The Portland Timbers ground out a 2-1 win over FC Dallas tonight in a game that was wide open in the first half and controlled in the second. The win, along with the rest of the night's results, puts the Timbers back into third place in the Western Conference with two games in hand on first place Real Salt Lake and three on the second place Colorado Rapids.
Ryan Johnson opened the scoring for the Timbers in the 26', leaping over George John and heading home an outswinging Diego Valeri corner to put the team up 1-0. The move started with a bit of hustle from Ben Zemanski as he ran down a long Diego Chara switch at the Dallas baseline, earning a corner kick off the shins of Michel.
The Timbers' lead was not long lived as Dallas streamed down the pitch from the restart and tore the Timbers defense to bits before Mauro Diaz slipped the ball past Donovan Ricketts to tie the game up in the 28'. The Dallas attack started with a quick wall pass between Fabian Castillo and Blas Perez that ended with Castillo receiving the ball at the top of the box. From there he found Diaz making a smart run past an out of position Alvas Powell and in on goal.
However, the Timbers were not to be outdone by Dallas's quick response. In the 33' Chara headed the ball upfield to Valeri who immediately turned to start the counter. With Darlington Nagbe to his right and Johnson to his left, Valeri went at the Dallas back line before passing the ball behind the defense to Nagbe who rifled the ball past Raul Fernandez for the game winner, his fourth goal against Dallas in four matches this year. Valeri's assist was his tenth of the season, making him the first player to reach double-digit assists for the Timbers since joining MLS.
After the seven minute span in which all three goals were scored, the game quickly changed from a track meet into a chess match. Coming into the second half the Timbers reigned in their quick counters, instead aiming for a slower build up that left them less open at the back. With Dallas still throwing men forward and trying desperately to get the ball back, the game got chippy.
The match's four yellow cards, like its goals, came in rapid succession. Each team picked up two yellows between the 53' and 59' before referee Alan Chapman managed to get the proceedings under control. Thankfully for the Timbers, Chara and Pa Modou Kah both managed to avoid yellow cards and will be available for this Wednesday's match against Real Salt Lake.