(Reuters) - A sensational, swerving strike from Dairon Asprilla helped Portland to a 3-1 win over Dallas in the first leg of Major League Soccer’s Western Conference final on Sunday, while Columbus beat the New York Red Bulls 2-0 in the East’s title game.
With Portland leading 1-0 through Liam Ridgewell’s 23rd minute goal, Asprilla jinked inside Victor Ulloa and unleashed a vicious curler from 25 yards out that found the far top corner of the Dallas net.
“I can’t believe that went in,” said Portland’s Nat Borchers, who added a third in added time to reestablish the home side’s two-goal cushion after David Texeira had pulled one back for Dallas.
“It’s big for us,” Borchers said. “You go (to Dallas) up 2-1 and you worry about giving up that first goal. A two-goal cushion means they have to come out and get after us.”
In the Eastern final, the Crew got off to a sensational start when Justin Meram scored with 10 seconds on the clock, then subdued the top scoring side in MLS before Kei Kamara made it 2-0 with five minutes remaining.
“It was a credit to everyone, we did well tonight,” Kamara told reporters after his third goal of the postseason. “We knew they were going to press us. We just kept pushing each other.”
Crew coach Gregg Berhalter said he had told his team not to sit back.
“We were urging the players to keep going and keep making those runs,” he said. “I thought there was space that we could exploit.”
The second legs of both games will be played next Sunday.
Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by Peter Rutherford