Group F looked to be the group of death when the teams were drawn into it. The likes of Portland and LAFC coupled with the scrappy Houston and LA Galaxy sides made this group very intriguing. Who made it out of the group and who will be going home?
Portland Timbers: 7 Points
Portland was one of the top teams in this group, but not many thought they’d finish higher than LAFC. Portland’s opening match win against LA Galaxy showed they were here to compete. A second win over Houston gave the timbers a huge advantage over LAFC. In the final match of the group, the Timbers rested some key starters and took a lead over LA. Once LAFC came back and took the lead from Portland, the Timbers rallied to find an equalizer and secure the top finish.
This was no small feat from Portland, who have looked great in their attacking buildup and defensive organization in this tournament. Getting the top spot was huge as it ensured they’d play Cincinnati rather than their rivals Seattle Sounders in the knockout rounds.
LAFC: 5 Points
LAFC started the MLS is Back Tournament on shaky ground. They were without their superstar attacker Carlos Vela, who opted out of the tournament. A wild 3-3 draw with Houston was the only slip this team had in the tournament. They wiped their rivals LA Galaxy out of contention with a 6-2 win and followed it up with a draw against a very solid Portland side.
While this club finished in second they look to have the most depth across the board. LAFC are set for a deep run in this tournament and have to get by 2019 MLS champions in their first knockout round match.
Houston Dynamo: 2 Points
Houston is a team that has been able to make runs in tournaments before. They started this one off in flying fashion scoring three goals and splitting points with LAFC. They then ran into the hot Timbers side that beat them, but they knew if they could get a win over LA Galaxy, that they would make it to the knockout rounds as a wildcard. They had the lead up until second-half stoppage time when the Galaxy were given adn scored a penalty to tie the match.
This crushed Houston’s dreams and knocked them out of the tournament. Now Houston will be able to go home and really learn from their experience playing against some of the best teams in the western conference.
LA Galaxy: 1 Point
LA Galaxy have fallen far from what they used to be. The old dynasty of MLS is gone, and now this team scraps to win games even when they have superstars on their team. LA Galaxy was not ready for this competition from the start. They lost to Portland in their first match, were embarrassed by LAFC in their second, and barely drew Houston in their third match. This side has a lot to work on moving forward if they want to avoid another year of mediocrity.
Now with even more time off, the Galaxy will need to find a way to revamp themselves to compete for a western conference playoff spot once the regular-season starts back up. Will they be able to, or will they continue to slide and lose recognition and attention?
On to the Knockout Rounds
With Group F finishing the knockout round field was set. Portland will face off against the surprise of the tournament FC Cincinnati. LAFC take on the Sounders in what will be a very fun match. With the bracket set and the teams getting ready to play, it’s time for some win-or-go-home soccer!
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Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports