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Timbers Opened Up, Shut Down in Philadelphia

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The dam broke on the Portland Timbers in Philadelphia on Saturday evening, as three second-half goals from the Philadelphia Union were more than enough to bury Portland’s hopes at moving to the top of the Western Conference.

It took nearly 70 minutes for the Union to find the key, but with the Timbers missing both fullbacks and Diego Chara, the Union eventually unlocked Portland’s left flank. Over and over again.

Andrew Wenger found the opener in the 69th minute when Jeanderson was caught upfield and Cristian Maidana found Andrew Wenger on the touchline. Wenger drove at the exposed Timbers backline and bent a left footer inside the far post.

For the first 20 minutes of the first half it looked like the Union would open the scoring much earlier, but the Philadelphia spoiled multiple golden opportunities. In the 13th minute Sebastien Le Toux found space at the top of the box and hit a shot from 20 yards that glanced off the bar. Six minutes later it was C.J. Sapong doing the work for himself, as he won a header near midfield and set himself free down the left, but the Timbers defense recovered just in time to deflect his shot over the bar.

The Timbers grew into the game, however, and had created some opportunities for themselves as the half went along. In the 36th minute, Diego Valeri bent a free kick off the bar from 25 yards off the bar.

But, despite creating a respectable collection of half chances in the last 20 minutes of the half, the Timbers couldn’t find an opener.

And in the second half the Union wasted no time going to Jeanderson at left back.

Wenger’s opener decisively turned the tide on a sleepy, relatively even game after intermission, and it didn’t take long for Philadelphia to get their second. Just two minutes later it was Maidana who opened up the Timbers’ left flank and cut the ball back to the penalty spot where Vincent Noguiera hammered it past Andrew Weber.

In just two minutes the Timbers went from resilient to defeated. And it was only a matter of time until the Union found their third. Sure enough, it came in the 82nd minute after Maidana and Nogiuera used a clever flurry of combinations to open up the Timbers’ left side for a third time, and Maidana played Noguiera through to hammer the ball home from the right edge of the six-yard box.

Absences notwithstanding, with the loss in Philadelphia the Timbers have now dropped four of their last five MLS road fixtures by a combined score of 13-3. And at the end of the day, it’s simple: Performances like the Timbers have put in on the road recently won’t be good enough to capitalize on their torrid midseason run.