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Dallas clinches playoff spot with 0-0 tie against Timbers

September 30, 2018
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Portland Timbers' Diego Valeri (8) jumps for the ball between Dallas FC players, including Victor Ulloa, right, during an MLS soccer match Saturday, Sept. 29, 2019, in Portland, Ore. (Sean Meagher/The Oregonian via AP)

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — FC Dallas clinched a spot in the playoffs with a 0-0 draw with the Portland Timbers on Saturday night.

Dallas sits in first place in the Western Conference with four matches left. The team needed a win or a tie against Portland to solidify a postseason berth as rumors swirl that coach Oscar Pareja could be a candidate for head coach of the U.S. men’s national team.

“I want to congratulate the players, who have done a terrific job so far. It’s not easy to qualify (for the playoffs) especially in this league that is very competitive and the differences are very tight,” Pareja said. “So, well-deserved for the club, we’re back into the playoffs after a very tough year obviously with the competition, and we’re very, very happy to achieve that.”

The Timbers (13-9-9) are fourth in the West and in playoff contention but just three points ahead of sixth-place Real Salt Lake with three matches left.

“We tried everything we could to get the three points,” Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese said.

The Timbers saw the return of goalkeeper Jeff Attinella, who had missed the last four games because of a thigh injury. It was Attinella’s birthday, as well as teammate Andy Polo’s.

Portland was without Sebastian Blanco because of yellow card accumulation. Blanco ranks third on the team with seven goals and second with nine assists.

Dallas (15-6-9) had one of the best chances of the first half in the 44th minute, when Carlos Gruezo’s shot from outside the box hit the right post. Gruezo also had a close shot in the 10th minute that went just wide right.

Portland was hurt early in the second half when Alvas Powell collided with Dallas captain Matt Hedges and remained prone on the field for several moments before he was helped off the field and into the locker room. Zarek Valentin was subbed into the match to replace him.

Attinella stopped a shot from Cristian Colman in the 73rd minute. Colman was making his sixth start for FC Dallas.

Lucas Melano had a good look at Dallas’ goal from out front in the 81st minute, but his shot went straight into the arms of goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez.

A short time later Attinella had to be looked at by trainers after it appeared he injured his shoulder. He stayed in the game but a short time later he left the game with what looked like a dislocated shoulder. He was replaced by Steve Clark, who played while Attinella was out with the thigh injury.

Timbers defender Liam Ridgewell was sent off with a straight red card in stoppage time, leaving Portland with just 10 for the final crucial moments of the game.

“It’s something you get used to: The officials called it and you’ve just got to bite your tongue and get on with it,” he said afterward.

Portland was coming off a 3-2 loss at Minnesota, while Dallas beat the Whitecaps 2-1 in Vancouver last weekend.

“It is great knowing that we clinched after we didn’t clinch last year,” Gonzalez said. “It’s great knowing that we’re in already, but we can’t let our guard down. We have to keep working.”

Portland and Dallas played to a 1-1 draw in their previous meeting this season at Toyota Stadium in March.

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