FC Dallas at Timbers
4:30 p.m. Saturday at Providence Park
TV/radio: Fox Sports 1 (cable Ch. 408) / AM 750.
Tickets: timbers.com. Very few tickets remained on Saturday.
At stake: This is the first of a home-and-away series with Dallas in the Western Conference Finals. The second leg is at FC Dallas on Nov. 29. The team with the most goals over the two games advances to the MLS Cup Final.
Tie-breakers: The first tie-breaker if the series ends in a tie is away goals. If those are also tied, 30 minutes of overtime will follow regulation of the second leg at Dallas. If it is still tied after the overtime, a penalty-kick shootout determines the winner.
In the East: New York Red Bulls and Columbus play the first game of their series at 2 p.m. today on ESPN.
Timbers notes: Portland reached the Western Conference finals for the second time in three seasons by surviving an 11-round penalty-kick tiebreaker to beat Sporting Kansas City in the knockout round, then eliminated the Vancouver Whitecaps 2-0 in the conference semifinals. … Portland will be without key attackers Diego Valeri and Rodney Wallace because each picked up his second yellow card of the playoffs in the 2-0 win at Vancouver on Nov. 8. … Given those suspensions, and the value a shutout would have given the away-goals tiebreaker, Timbers coach Caleb Porter is likely to go with two defensive midfielders, while inserting Lucas Melano on the left wing as a starter. Porter said he will have a tough decision picking who to slot alongside Diego Chara: Jack Jewsbury and George Fochive have seen the most playing time and are in flow with teammates more than Will Johnson. But the team captain showed in two recent appearances with Canada in World Cup qualifying that he is healthy and capable of contributing, Porter said. … Liam Ridgewell, Melano and George Fochive would be suspended for the second leg if they pick up a yellow card in this match. … Portland beat Dallas 3-1 at home on April 4, a game most remembered for Dallas coach Oscar Pareja throwing a tissue at Caleb Porter instead of shaking hands. Dallas beat Portland 4-1 in Texas on July 25.
FC Dallas notes: Dallas finished with the best record in the Western Conference. FCD was tied for most points in MLS with the New York Red Bulls. Dallas advanced by beating Seattle on penalty kicks after a wild conference semifinal ended all even. … The Dallas attack is built by orchestrator Mauro Diaz in midfield (10 assists, 8 goals) and wingers Fabian Castillo (9 goals, 9 assists) and Michael Barrios (7 goals). … Goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez, 20, was the hero of the shootout win over Seattle and is now on the radar of the Mexican national team. He is one of a core of Dallas players younger than 24 who have spearheaded this run to the conference finals. Speaking of which, this is the fourth time in 20 seasons that Dallas has reached the conference finals (compared with twice in five seasons for Portland). Dallas has never won an MLS Cup championship. … Dallas coach Oscar Pereja returned to Colombia to be with family after his mother died this week, but is expected to be in Portland to coach his team on Sunday.