The Portland Timbers staged a dramatic comeback today, beating the Houston Dynamo 3-2 on three second half goals, including a stoppage time game winner.
Things started out badly for the Timbers and only got worse as the first half wore on with the team giving up two goals in quick succession in the 28th and 30th minutes.
The Dynamo struck first from the Timbers’ left as Andrew Wenger got on the ball and drove at Jermaine Taylor. Cutting inside then back toward the touch line, Wenger was able to create the space he needed to hit a hard, low shot that beat Jake Gleeson to the far post, putting Houston up 1-0.
Moments later the Dynamo were again pressing forward in the Timbers half, but this time the goal started out on the Timbers’ right. With Will Bruin toeing the offside line, Boniek Garcia hit a chipped in pass over the head of Nat Borchers for his forward to run onto. It looked like Liam Ridgewell was on hand to cover, but the ball somehow skipped past the Timbers’ captain and found the foot of Bruin. The Dynamo forward, one on one with Gleeson, played a simple, poked shot at the near post, finding the back of the net and putting Houston up 2-0.
Pushing forward hard in the second half, the Timbers would pull one back in the 64th minute as Diego Valeri found space in which to operate. Looking up, Valeri was able to pick out a long through ball, finding Lucas Melano in stride as the Timbers’ winger made a diagonal run into the Houston box. In behind the Dynamo back line, Melano found himself one on one with keeper Joe Willis, subbed in for Tyler Deric at the half, and slipped a ball under the onrushing keeper to pull the Timbers back within one.
From there the Timbers only ramped up the pressure, putting the Houston defense under constant pressure. Finally, in the 82nd minute, the Timbers would get their equalizer as Melano got on the ball and played a chipped ball into the Houston box. Former Timber David Horst was the first to the ball, but the big Houston defender controlled it with his arm and referee Hilario Grajeda had not trouble pointing to the spot. From there it was Valeri who stepped up to the spot and bury the penalty past Willis to even things up.
With momentum firmly on their side, the Timbers kept it up and again found themselves at the spot in the 90th minute and again it was Melano who got them there. With the ball in the Houston box, Melano and Willis found themselves in a footrace for it and it was the Argentine who was faster, getting his feet clipped by the Houston keeper. After some discussion it with his lineman — replay would later show that Willis got the ball first — Grajeda pointed to the spot and again Valeri stepped up. After hammering the ball into the back of the net for his first penalty of the night, the Maestro played a chipped shot in for his second, again beating Willis and this time giving the Timbers the lead.
The win moves the Timbers above the red line as they go into their second U.S. Open Cup match, hosting the LA Galaxy on Wednesday.