The Portland Timbers got an early goal from Maximiliano Urruti in their midweek match against the former top team in MLS, D.C. United, and held on for the 1-0 win. The match also featured the return of Timbers' captain Will Johnson to the side as he went 84 minutes in his first appearance with the first team since breaking his leg in Toronto last year.
After giving up two early goals in their last two games, it was the Timbers putting pressure on their opponents with an early goal this time as they pushed hard up the pitch from the opening whistle. With the Timbers sending the ball down the right flank in the 5th minute, Gaston Fernandez got on a bouncing ball, taking it off a D.C. defender, and threaded a pinpoint pass to Urruti at the back post, who simply knocked it home for the game's only goal.
From there the Timbers looked like the better team for much of the first half, controlling the tempo of the match and generally holding possession of the ball as United increasingly threw men forward in search of an equalizer. The Timbers were able to create a number of chances out of their possession advantage in the first half, putting in nine shots in the first half and forcing a pair of saves out of D.C.'s keeper Bill Hamid.
Late in the first half and extending into the second, however, United seemed to push further and further forward as they looked for the tying goal. The Timbers, now in a similar defensive position to their last two opponents, Toronto FC and the Houston Dynamo, looked for the counter and found it repeatedly.
As the Timbers' grew more compact on defense, they found the field opening up for them and players like Dairon Asprilla and second half substitute Rodney Wallace were primed to take advantage. The Timbers hit D.C. on the break repeatedly, getting only seven shots off in the second half, but forcing six saves out of Hamid, including several point blank efforts that he had no business getting a finger to.
Headers, snap shots, and volleys were all turned aside by Hamid as D.C. hung on to a slim hope that they could break the Timbers down, even bringing on defender Bobby Boswell to join in the attack as they pumped balls down the pitch. Still, the Timbers' defensive shell held and, despite Kwarasey having to make a pair of saves in the second half, the most dangerous moments were consistently on the other end of the pitch.
There was a downside to the Timbers' performance, however, in that Diego Chara will miss Saturday's match due to yellow card accumulation.
The game is the Timbers' fourth win of the year and their fifth shutout. The three points move the Timbers' back even with the Houston Dynamo in the Western Conference, although they remain in 9th place on tiebreakers.
The Timbers play the Colorado Rapids on Saturday at Dick's Sporting Good Park at 6:00 p.m. pacific.