What a difference a week makes.
A week ago, the Timbers limped on to the team plane in Toronto in last place and with their talisman Diego Valeri nursing a freshly sprained ankle. Although it was only the third week of May, the Timbers’ season looked very much on the brink.
Fast forward two games and seven days, and the Timbers are sitting above the red line after two potentially season-turning wins. And it’s all thanks to Jack Jewsbury, the Timbers’ original MLS captain, who slotted home a Ishmael Yartey layoff in the final minute of second-half stoppage time to secure the win in Colorado.
Portland went ahead in the 38th minute when Maximiliano Urruti took a throw in, held off Rapids centerback Axel Sjoberg, and fed Gaston Fernandez into the left side of the box where La Gata struck the ball past Clint Irwin and inside the far post for the opener.
The Timbers’ breakthrough had been coming over the course of the previous 20 minutes, in which the Timbers wrested control of the first half from the hosts.
After the break the heavy legs began to take their toll, but with Colorado pushing numbers forward in search of the equalizer, the Timbers found opportunities on the break. But despite multiple opportunities to notch an insurance goal, the Timbers couldn’t put themselves into placid waters.
In the 55th minute Urruti worked his way through on goal on the right side of the box with Darlington Nagbe running freely into the center, but Urruti couldn’t find Nagbe and let the chance pass by. Urruti wiggled into space again in the 69th minute and tested Irwin from the top of the box, but the Colorado keeper went to full stretch to palm the ball wide. Finally, Urruti (who, if you couldn’t tell had quite an outing) laid the ball off for Rodney Wallace on the left side of the box in the 82nd minute, but James Riley slid in at the last moment to deflect Wallace’s goal-bound shot.
As the second half progressed, however, the Rapids began to find opportunities. Three minutes after Riley deflected Wallace’s shot, the ball fell to Sam Cronin in the center of the box, but Wallace took the opportunity to earn revenge and blocked Cronin’s sure equalizer over the bar.
There would be no blocking Cronin four minutes later, however. After Luis Solignac chested a ball into Cronin’s path, the former Earthquake volleyed home the equalizer. Finally the Timbers’ inability to find their insurance goal came back to haunt them.
Or so it seemed.
Three minutes into the three minutes of second-half stoppage time, with Colorado pushing numbers forward for a winner, Yartey got just enough of a foot to a Wallace pass to push it into the path of an onrushing Jewsbury on the right side of the box. The Salty Dog made no mistake and drove the ball with his left foot through Irwin’s legs for the winner.
What a difference a week makes, indeed.