The Portland Timbers and Chivas USA came into the game going in opposite directions in the table. Chivas were plummeting down the table, thanks to a four-game winless streak, while Portland was riding an 8 game unbeaten streak. The confidence, or lack thereof, that comes with both of the streaks was apparent from the opening kickoff, as Portland dominated possession, while Chivas looked like they weren't sure what to do in front of such a large crowd.
Portland's possession was orchestrated by a dominating midfield which included Will Johnson, Diego Chara, and Diego Valeri. It was like they were three parts of an engine working together to run rough shod over Chivas USA. Or maybe it was like they were the Wonder Twins, except they were triplets, and just ran around the field yelling "Wonder Triplets powers activate!" Maybe before they game they got some rings from some Motherly type and then said in unison "With our powers combined we are Portland's Midfield!"
The chemistry among the midfielders led to 7 shots inside Chivas USA's box, four of them coming within the first 10 minutes of the game. Portland's offense did go through some lulls without shots, as it did for 15 minutes after their initial burst of energy, but they kept up the pressure and dominated to the tune of 72% possession in the early going. Their high pressure lead to turnovers and a very low passing accuracy (59.1% in the first half) for Chivas.
Portland may have dominated stats in every way, but they were still unable to find the back of the net for the first 30 minutes of the game. All of that changed with a perfect throw from Donovan "Man Child" Ricketts. Ricketts caught a free kick launched into Portland's box and then took two steps and threw a perfect pass to Valeri at about midfield. Valeri played the ball centrally to Ryan Johnson who hit a first time ball looping over the defense to a streaking Rodney Wallace.
Wallace showed his great skills by settling the ball with a header as he was running full speed, fought off the defender and then volleyed the ball past the onrushing keeper. The ball traveled the length of the field in 11 seconds, with Portland Timbers taking six touches, involving 4 players, and beating 11 Chivas players. It was the perfect example of a counter-attacking goal.
El Chelis made one change at the half, looking to energize the Goats. Portland saw their dominating possession take a hit as Chivas looked to get physical and not allow Portland's dominating trio to play their game in the middle. Chivas' new energy carried them through until the 60th minute, at which point they began to wilt. Portland took advantage and once again took over the game.
Portland's second goal once again involved Wallace and Valeri. After an attack up the right flank lost its steam, Ryan Johnson brought the ball out from the corner and passed it back to Darlington Nagbe, who then played it centrally to Rodney Wallace. Wallace then hit a through ball to a wide open Valeri right near the penalty spot. He was so wide open it seemed he must have been offside, but Ryan Johnson's run had drawn Steve Purdy back towards his own goal, keeping Valeri onside. The finish was textbook.
After the second goal Portland took their foot off the gas and were happy enough to just possess the ball and take their chances on a counter. Even with their foot off the gas, though, Portland still seemed to have a third goal in them. The third did come off of a short corner kick in stoppage time.
Valeri played the ball short to Kalif Alhassan, who played the ball past the two defenders expecting him to turn to the corner flag to kill the final couple of minutes of stoppage time. Alhassan passed to Will Johnson, who just seconds earlier had a shot parried by the Chivas keeper to win the corner. He would not be denied his fourth goal of the season again. Johnson beat his defender with a deft touch towards the top of the box took a shot -- a perfectly curled ball around the keeper's outstretched hand and into the back of the net for Portland's third.
Porter's post game media conference, worth a listen.
- Portland has now gone 390 minutes at home without giving up a goal. (last goal was in the 60th minute against Montreal)
- Portland has now matched Seattle's longest unbeaten run of 9 in MLS play
- As Andy pointed out in the match thread, it was Cascadia teams 10 and California teams 1 this weekend
- Three games involving Portland sports teams this weekend and three wins! Both PTFC teams won and congrats to the Winterhawks on their WHL championship.
- Portland's subs have earned three assists this year, which is more than both 2011 and 2012 combined.
- Remember to keep this high low, people!
- Caleb Porter felt this game was not their most dominant and thinks this team is just scratching the surface of their potential.
- Caleb Porter is just two-and-a-half years older than Donovan Ricketts. Porter must therefore also be considered a man-child.
- Love seeing the Rodney Wallace Costa Rica is used to seeing.