The Portland Timbers handily beat Alpha United today in the team's first ever match in the CONCACAF Champions League, coming away with a 4-1 win and the top spot in their group thanks to goals from four different players.
The Timbers started things off early, going ahead in the 18' off a swift move down the pitch that split the Alpha defense wide open. After Ben Zemanski won the ball in the midfield and quickly offloaded it to Kalif Alhassn the Timbers quickly broke down the pitch. Getting into space on the Timbers' left flank, Steve Zakuani lead the charge and Alhassan was able to pick him out with a smooth pass through the midfield.
With the ball at his feet, Zakuani was in one on one with Alpha keeper Ronson Williams. Opening his hips, Zakuani hit a hard side-footed shot on goal, rolling it just around the keeper and into the back of the net to give the Timbers a 1-0 lead.
Although the game remained wide open, it was the Timbers who would strike again in the 33'. Once again it was the Timbers breaking down the field that took Alpha apart. With the ball falling to Michael Nanchoff in the cneter of the pitch, following some hard work from Alvas Powell on the defensive side of things, he picked out Alhassan and Maximiliano Urruti streaking toward the Alpha box.
Taking advantage of the quick break, Nanchoff hit a rolling pass to the feet of Alhassan, only to have the creative midfielder flick the ball on, redirecting it toward the run of Urruti. With a touch through the legs of the only defender between him and the goal, Urruti was free in the box. With more room in which to work than he has had at any point in his career, Urruti took a touch before firing a hard shot low and to the right of Williams, giving the keeper no time to react before the ball was rippling the back of the Alpha net.
Alpha were not out of it yet, however, and with only minutes left to go in the half, the home side managed to claw one back. In second half stoppage time, Alpha won a free kick just outside the Timbers' box. Positioned just close enough to put the ball on goal with power, but far enough away to bend the ball over the wall, Alpha's Barbosa Murillo did just that, tucking the ball into the upper-ninty, just out of the reach of Andrew Weber. The goal closed out the half on a high note for the home side, with the whistle blowing shortly thereafter.
Although it looked like Alpha might fight their way back into the game in the final minutes of the first half, the second half saw the Timbers once again grabbing the upper hand. With the introduction of Fanendo Adi in the 56', the Timbers suddenly had a weapon that Alpha's defense could not match up to.
In the 66' Adi made his presence felt, giving the Timbers' back their two goal lead. Alvas Powell started off the Timbers' attack, sending a low ball into the Alpha box after a hard run down the field from his right back spot. Powell's cross found the feet of just inside the six yard box where the big man showed some finesse, opening his feet and flicking the ball on with the back heel of his trailing leg to give the Timbers the 3-1 lead.
After scoring their third it looked like the Timbers might be tempted to coast to a two goal victory, but the Timbers' other attacking sub, Rodney Wallace, continued to push the pace, dragging the rest of the team along with him.
In the 83' the team's continued work paid off as this time it was Wallace carrying the ball down the left flank and firing in a beautiful curled cross that would have found the feet of Adi if Williams had not dove off his line to block it away. Unfortunately for the Alpha keeper, his block only went as far as the feet of Powell, who hit a first time shot with his right instep that nestled comfortably in the back of the net.
Now with a three goal lead, the Timbers ground out the rest of the match, taking the 4-1 victory and moving into the top spot in their group.