FanPost

Adi, Adi, Adi! Oi, Oi, Oi!

It was a picture hard to imagine at the beginning of the year: The Portland Timbers went to Chivas USA on a Wednesday night and rotated almost their entire squad.

Caleb Porter fielded a second team that included major offseason acquisitions Gaston Fernandez and Norberto Paparatto, along with Kalif Alhassan, plus grizzled veteran Danny O'Rourke being thrown in to the team just a day after being officially signed, and Nigerian striker Fanendo Adi making his fist MLS start.

And this was the team that, thirteen games into the season, would post Portland's first clean-sheet and first multi-goal win.

There was something very satisfying about Portland's stopgap 2-0 victory over beleaguered Chivas.

The Timbers finally played and were treated like the overwhelming favorites they should have been. Chivas, at home, sunk players into defense, trying to suffocate the game.

Portland were patient - they dominated possession to the tune of 66% of the ball at halftime. They probed and prodded Chivas' defense, trying to figure out how to break through.

In the end, the most satisfying component of all was Adi, the 6'4 striker on loan from Copenhagen who played one of the best games by a Timbers forward in the MLS era.

His two goals were fantastic. Adi swept the opener home when a terrific left-wing cross from Jorge Villafana found him streaking into the six-yard box, and his second was taken with calculated panache after a classy through-ball from substitute Diego Valeri.

Adi's movement off the ball was tremendous. His effective running and use of space up top smacked of experience as a top center forward. In fact, it was a classic center forward's game. Two chances, two goals. One red card created. A whole lot of knockdowns, and by the end of the night, Adi was playing like he was 7'0.

It was a beautiful thing. A real, bonafide #9. Due respect to Maxi Urruti, who is playing the best soccer of his MLS career, but he can't hold a candle to Adi when he's in the kind of form he was in Wednesday night.

Adi is playing for his job right now. He was brought in on a three-month loan with rumors swirling that the Timbers swung and missed on bringing in a forward with a bigger name and pedigree. Gavin Wilkinson's comments - that Portland could target a DP forward in the summer - suggest that the team's brass isn't sold on Adi longterm.

But there will be no getting rid of him if he continues to play like this.

This was the kind of win a top team gets. On the road, with a depleted team, on short rest. Easy. It harkened back to Portland's 2-0 win over DC United at RFK Stadium early in 2013.

Of course, this game is not a fix-all. Chivas were an abomination. I feel so very sorry for their 1,000 or so fans, but the countdown to their rebrand and sale cannot happen fast enough.

Part of the reason it's so depressing going to Chivas these days is because the team is so bad. This was a game between the two worst teams in the Western Conference, and Chivas were coming off eleven days of rest while the Timbers were playing on three days of rest after beating New York.

Chivas' dire tactics made for an excruciatingly boring first 60 minutes. But it was sweet when the Timbers broke through.

It was interesting that the Goats were markedly worse at home in this match than they were in Portland in April, when they played to a very even 1-1 draw. But the Timbers also were better.

It was big for Portland that Futty Danso and Norberto Paparatto got a clean-sheet. They're going to need those two defenders in the future, and if Paparatto is indeed concussed, the Great Wall of Gambia could be reunited much sooner than expected against Vancouver.

Soccer is a strange sport. The Timbers could not get a win to save their lives at the beginning of the year, and now, after two relatively low-profile road games in which the Timbers did not play their best soccer, the team comes home to Portland with six potentially season-defining points.

The Timbers are quickly moving up the table, and could conceivably be in third by next Monday morning. Things are undoubtably looking up.

Porter does have lineup decisions to make against Vancouver, and that game should be a much better litmus test of where the Timbers are and how much they have improved since the beginning of the year.

Will Johnson still doesn't look quite right - it's possible that that perception is clouded slightly by the weight of expectations in accord with his career year last year - but he's not having the impact on games he should be having. In truth, he looks very average.

Getting Darlington Nagbe going will also be a key. Nagbe's draught is troubling because the production Portland has gotten from Fernandez (five goals, three on tap-ins), can't be expected to continue, and Urruti's form won't hold either.

It's interesting that twelve of Portland's 19 goals have been scored by forwards, even though forward has been targeted as a problem area all year - though that may change with the addition of Adi.

It was a classic hang-in-there road-trip for the Timbers. After a while, they got lucky against New York. Eventually, they got good against Chivas.

Don't look now, but someone forgot to tell the Timbers that the season is over.

Alright guys, I don't believe I have to say this but, just in case, please do not submit anything racist, homophobic, sexist or otherwise not appropriate for even the younger Timbers fans.

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