Mason Toye scored the game winner in the 64th minute. (David Berding-USA TODAY Sports)
ST. PAUL, Minn. – Minnesota United FC advanced to the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final with a 2-1 win over the Portland Timbers in front of of 15,073 at Allianz Field Wednesday night.
Darwin Quintero’s 21st-minute penalty kick gave the home side the lead before 20-year-old Mason Toye put home the winner in the 64th minute to send the club to its first tournament final.
Minnesota United FC will face Atlanta United FC in the Open Cup final Tuesday, Aug. 27 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta (8 p.m. ET; ESPN+). The Georgia-based club earned a hard-fought 2-0 victory at Orlando City SC in Tuesday’s other Semifinal at Exploria Stadium, setting up the first final since 2001 in which both participants will contest U.S. Soccer’s national championship for the first time.
Having met only three days prior in league play, a later kickoff allowed for a frantic pace from the start, and it was the visitors from Portland who created danger early on. Diego Chara threaded through the middle of the park before laying off to Sebastian Blanco at the top of the area. The Argentine attacker switched the ball to his left, curling an effort to the back post which Minnesota goalkeeper Vito Mannone did well to parry away to his right in the seventh minute.
Gathering more control after the early chance conceded, Minnesota United FC struck first thanks to a 21st minute penalty from captain Darwin Quintero. The spot kick came when Quintero’s free kick from 25 yards out was handled in the box by Portland defender Claude Dielna, forcing referee Ismael Elfath to point to the spot. Already leading the tournament’s Golden Boot race, Quintero stepped up and buried his sixth goal of the 2019 edition to the left of Steve Clark to give the hosts the 1-0 lead.
While Minnesota looked destined to take the advantage into the locker room, Portland had other ideas. A late first-half corner kick was kept alive by the Timbers, with defender Jorge Moreira lobbing a ball back in for Jeremy Ebobisse. The Portland attacker played a brilliant one-touch pass into the box for Brian Fernandez, where the striker pounced and placed his fourth goal of the tournament inside the left post in the second minute of first half stoppage time.
Feeding off the late first-half goal, Portland kept the momentum on the other side of halftime. Switching to the right side, Ebobisse penetrated down his wing before laying back for Blanco. Putting the ball on his left again, the striker rifled a blistering 22-yard effort that caught Mannone off guard but saw the Minnesota keeper push it over the bar for a corner kick in the 52nd minute.
Portland continued knocking on the door seven minutes later when Dairon Asprilla got on the end of a ball on the left. The Colombian cut inside towards the top of the area before bending a right-footed effort that was destined for the inside netting, only to see Mannone come up with another acrobatic stop to keep things level in the 59th minute.
After surviving the early second-half pressure, Minnesota hit back against the run of play to retake the lead in the 64th minute. Center back Kevin Molino alertly played a long ball over the top, putting striker Mason Toye into a footrace with Dielna. Toye sped past the Portland defender, taking a touch into the box before measuring his effort inside the right post to give Minnesota the 2-1 advantage.
Trying to pull things back, Timbers head coach Gio Savarese inserted enterprising attacker Diego Valeri in the 72nd minute. While Portland failed to string much together before the final whistle, the visitors did provide one last-gasp moment in the fourth minute of second half stoppage time. Blanco’s cross from the right deflected off Manone and into the path of Valeri and careened off the post before being cleared.