Portland takes first in Group F with 2-2 draw against LAFC

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — Jeremy Ebobisse scored his third goal of the MLS is Back tournament and the Portland Timbers played to a 2-2 draw against the Los Angeles Football Club on Thursday night in the final group stage match.

Both teams had clinched spots in the knockout round coming into the game. The draw allowed Portland to take the top spot in Group F with seven points. The Timbers came into the match with a pair of 2-1 wins over the LA Galaxy and Houston.

“Winning the group is a very important part of what we came here for,” Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese said. “We knew it was going to be a very difficult group for us. We are very content to have done that against three difficult teams. I think we can continue to grow to be better.”

Ebobisse came on as a substitute in the 58th minute. The striker evened the game in the 81st minute with a header into the back of the net after a corner kick by Diego Valeri.

Jaroslaw Niezgoda also scored for Portland, who will face FC Cincinnati on Tuesday in the round of 16.

Bradley Wright-Phillips and Mark-Anthony Kaye scored four minutes apart in the first half for LAFC, which gets defending league champion Seattle on Monday in a rematch of last season’s Western Conference final. LAFC, which had five points to take second in the group, beat the Galaxy 6-2 and had a draw against the Dynamo.

“We started the game slow, but then we had a good response, and I thought we picked things up in most of the second half,” coach Bob Bradley said. “I thought we had control. We didn’t do a good enough job of finding the third goal, being sharp in the right moments and finishing the game that way.”

Portland opened the scoring in the seventh minute when Sebastian Blanco found Niezgoda with a crossing pass. The Polish striker ran past LAFC midfielder Latif Blessing and beat LAFC goalkeeper Pablo Sisniega, who was playing out of position, for his first MLS goal.

Niezgoda is the third Timbers’ player in the past two seasons to score in his first club start.

Wright-Phillips evened it in the 36th minute with a laser off his right foot from just outside the box. He was acquired from the New York Red Bulls during the offseason and is the first player to score in his first three LAFC games. It is Wright-Phillips’ 111th MLS goal, which is eighth all time.

Kaye then put LAFC on top in the 40th minute when he scored on a header off Brian Rodríguez’s corner kick. It is the midfielder’s first goal of the season and his second in five games against Portland.

Portland (3-1-1) is unbeaten in its four straight regular season games after dropping its opener. LAFC remains unbeaten at 3-0-2.

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