NYCFC, Timbers advance in MLS Cup playoffs

David Villa was on the scoresheet for New York City, FC, which beat Philadelphia 3-1 to advance to the quarterfinals.

New York City captain, David Villa scored for New York City in its 3-1 win over Philadelphia.   -  Twitter: @NYCFC

New York City qualified for the quarterfinals of the MLS Cup playoffs on Wednesday with a 3-1 victory over Philadelphia in the opening knockout round.

The New York club seized control at Yankee Stadium in the first half thanks to Ismael Tajouri-Shradi's 10th-minute strike and a 26th-minute goal from inexhaustible captain David Villa.

Spain's Villa, 36, scored his 15th goal of the season.

In the other knockout game Wednesday, Diego Valeri scored twice as the 10-man Portland Timbers beat FC Dallas 2-1 on the road.

Under attack early in the second half, City, coached by Domenec Torrent since the departure of Patrick Vieira for Nice in August, sealed the victory with a 78th minute strike by Maximiliano Moralez.

“He was fantastic,” Torrent said of Moralez. “Maxi is one of the best players in the conference.

“Not just because he was able to score. The performance was very good, because when we decide to play in between the lines, he played fantastic.”

The victory put City into an Eastern Conference semifinal clash with Atlanta, which was able to skip the knockout round after finishing second in the conference in the regular season.

City, which beat Philadelphia for the second time in four days, reached the conference semifinals for the third straight year.

Villa's flick set up Tajouri-Shradi for the early lead, and the Spaniard doubled the score with a well-placed shot past Philadelphia keeper Andre Blake after a crisp pass from Moralez.

Moralez clinched it with a chip over Blake after he was freed by a long pass from Anton Tinnerholm.

The Union, which fell to 0-4 in playoff games, didn't register a shot until Ilsinho made his way through a cutch of defenders to set up an 83rd minute goal from Cory Burke.

In Frisco, Texas, Valeri scored on a 25-yard free kick in the 23rd minute and on a shot into the lower right corner in the 71st in front of a crowd of 10,100 at Toyota Stadium.

Portland will square off against either top-seeded Sporting Kansas City or the second-seeded Seattle Sounders in the opener of a two-game, semi-final series on Sunday.

On Thursday, Wayne Rooney's DC United takes on Columbus and Los Angeles FC take on Real Salt Lake to complete the conference semifinal lineups.

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