Timbers advance in MLS return tournament

Miami (AFP) – The Portland Timbers punched their ticket to the round of 16 in Major League Soccer’s restart tournament Saturday with a 2-1 win over the Houston Dynamo.

Jeremy Ebobisse put Portland up 1-0 in the 35th minute, collecting a penetrating pass from Sebastian Blanco and firing an angled left-footed shot past Houston goalkeeper Marko Maric.

The Timbers doubled their lead in the 61st when Diego Valeri’s left-footed shot hit the post and rolled in.

Houston pulled a goal back in the 86th with Alberth Elis’s penalty conversion. That followed a video review that judged Portland’s Jorge Villafana handled the ball in the penalty area.

But Houston’s hopes of mounting a charge dimmed two minutes later when Elis was sent off after receiving two yellow cards in as many minutes.

The first was for a challenge on Villafana, and the second came after he got tangled with Portland’s Bill Tuiloma.

The victory gave Portland six points in Group F and put them through to the knockout stages of the World Cup-style MLS is Back tournament that marks the league’s return from a coronavirus shutdown in a locked-down environment at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

– Rossi fireworks secure LA win –

Los Angeles FC, fueled by four goals from Uruguayan forward Diego Rossi, moved to second in the group on four points with a wild 6-2 win over the Los Angeles Galaxy.

LAFC rallied from a 2-1 deficit, scoring five unanswered goals.

Bradley Wright-Phillips and Mohamed El-Munir also scored for LAFC, who are playing in Orlando without 2019 MLS Most Valuable Player Carlos Vela — who opted out of the event to remain at home with his pregnant wife.

The clash of LA rivals suffered another loss of star power with the mid-week training injury to the Galaxy’s Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez.

But Rossi provided plenty of fireworks.

Rossi scored in the 13th, 45th, 75th and in the second minute of stoppage time to give LAFC the most lopsided result in the history of the cross-city rivalry dubbed “El Trafico”.

His first goal of the night came from the penalty spot after Wright-Phillips was pulled down by Perry Kitchen in the box.

That pulled LAFC level after the Galaxy opened a 1-0 lead in the fifth minute via an own-goal from LAFC’s Latif Blessing.

The Galaxy regained a 2-1 lead in the 31st through Cristian Pavon’s penalty conversion, but Rossi struck in first-half stoppage time to make it 2-2 and LAFC pulled away relentlessly after the break.

After Wright-Phillips scored in the 56th, Rossi completed his hat-trick in the 75th when a counter-attack sprung by substitute Jose Cifuentes was capped by the Uruguayan’s tap-in goal.

After El-Munir fired in a left-footed shot in the 80th, Rossi added one more flourish in in the second minute of injury time.

With a second defeat in as many matches the Galaxy are almost certainly eliminated from advancing in the tournament.

LAFC will try to lock up a round of 16 place when they take on the Timbers on Thursday.