Jimmy Maurer blocks a penalty kick by Jorge Villafana during the shootout. (Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports)
PORTLAND, Ore. – As the shootout wore on against the Portland Timbers Sunday night, FC Dallas goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer was getting more and more frustrated that he was unable to save a penalty kick.
“I was frustrated,” he said. “I felt like I was getting good reads on the PKs, I got really close on a few, even the one that went down the middle I thought I was going to be able to get my foot on it. It went just barely over like my shoelaces but I just knew that the guys were taking their shots so well that I was like ‘I just got to get one, just got to get one and we’re going to win it.’
“I was pissed, to be honest. I was like ‘I’m saving this next one’ and that will do it.’
The next one turned out to be an attempt by Jorge Villafana, whose shot he blocked.
It was the only penalty kick save by the former Cosmos keeper, but it was enough to sixth-seeded FC Dallas over No. 3 Portland and to an 8-7 shootout win after playing to a 1-1 draw in the first round of the MLS Cup Playoffs at Providence Park.
As it turned out, Maurer helped eliminate the team guided by Giovanni Savarese, for whom he played for three North American Soccer League championship teams on the Cosmos.
FC Dallas will play the winner of Tuesday’s match between Seattle Sounders FC and the Los Angeles Football Club.
Ema Twumasi scored what proved to be the winning shootout goal, but the spotlight was on Maurer.
Luchi Gonzalez also gave credit to Dallas goalkeeping coach Drew Keeshan, who “is so prepared and such a great professional.”
“He sits with all the keepers and goes over some habits,” he said. “He doesn’t necessarily tell Jimmy which way to go but these are some trends, trust your instincts but notice these timings and steps. Jimmy made the save later on but he was close on a few. He guessed the right side on a few but some of those PKs were very well taken by Portland and we were fortunate to get that one at the end.”
Maurer, who finished with seven saves over 120 minutes of regulation and extratime, had some close encounters. On the last play of the second extratime, Diego Valeri’s shot hit the woodwork.
“Thank God it didn’t go in,” he said. “After that whole game, if that would have gone in and ended the game off of a mis-hit cross where he was trying to find Jeremy [Ebobisse] on the back post that would have been absolutely our breaking point.”
Villafaña had given Portland the lead in the 82nd minute before Ricardo Pepi scored three minutes into second-half stoppage time to send the game into extratime.
Pepi became the youngest player in FC Dallas postseason history (third youngest in MLS Cup playoffs history) to score a postseason goal at 17 years, 318 days old. He was also the youngest to make his MLS postseason debut for the club.