Timbers Shift Into Playoff Contention
Sunday, August 31, 2014
Though it wasn’t just the defense that showed up.
Including Saturday’s game, Portland ranks tied for third in Major League Soccer with 44 goals, according to the league's website. Portland also extends a 5-game unbeaten streak at Vancouver, dating back to 2011 when both teams were introduced into the league.
After a scoreless first half, Alvas Powell headed in the game’s first goal in the 51’.
An easy pass out wide from Fanendo Adi led the ball to the feet of Diego Valeri, who whipped in a well-timed cross allowing Powell to slot in a near-post header, and his first MLS career goal.
Vancouver applied the pressure with a couple viable scoring opportunities early on in the second half, as Donovan Ricketts denied multiple point-blank shots.
Then came the gem of the match in the 75’.
Michael Harrington came flying down towards the right corner, leaving a cut back pass just right of the penalty line for Maximiliano Urruti. After a first touch that left the ball dead under his feet, Maxi managed to dig out a shot whiling fading away.
The Timbers continued establishing their offensive presence, forcing Vancouver to commit some defensive lapses. One could argue that the night’s take-away point was Vancouver’s lack of defensive capability. Powell’s goal came as a result of him being unchecked as he came through the eighteen yard box. Urruti’s shot was undoubtedly difficult, but a stumbling Vancouver defender is what created his opportunity.
Timbers Head Coach Caleb Porter would disagree in the post-game press conference:
“I thought from start to finish, both sides of the ball, it was the most complete performance of the year. Maybe the most complete performance since I’ve been here, against a very good team on the road.”
Offensive midfield and forward play looked comfortable throughout the second half, leading to multiple scoring opportunities.
Darlington Nagbe trotted into the top left corner of the box, then splitting the defense with a no-look pass to Rodney Wallace, slotted a shot past the Vancouver goalkeeper, while guaranteeing three momentum-shifting points.
“This was a real statement game,” Porter declared. “I think it was an important one to get confidence from as well. It was an important one to get a clean sheet…I thought Alvas Powell, Jorge Villafaña and [Pa Modou] Kah were tremendous. And Rodney Wallace is back. It’s the first game I can honestly say he’s back 100 percent. He showed what he’s capable of doing in terms of goal production. It was a team effort.”
With a win against Vancouver, Portland overtakes the Whitecaps’ fifth-place position in the West, and controls their own destiny with only eight games left in the regular season.
The Timbers play host to the San Jose Earthquakes on September 7 at 2pm.
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