The Portland Timbers returned home with an emphatic win over D.C. United, beating the Eastern Conference basement dwellers in a comprehensive 4-0 victory. Featuring a brace for Sebastian Blanco and a goal and two assists for Diego Valeri, the Timbers attack looks to be in fine form as they close out the season.
With D.C. in full damage control mode and looking to bunker from the opening whistle, the Timbers pressed forward in search of the opening goal. A gritty performance from the visitors combined with poor passing from the Timbers made for rough going for much of the first half, however.
The breakthrough finally came in the final minute of the first half as Darren Mattocks put the D.C. back line under pressure deep in their half. Full back Chris Korb touched a light pass back toward United keeper Steve Clark, only for Mattocks to steam past him and beat Clark to the ball. Mattocks took a touch past Clark before tapping the ball around the sliding form of the keeper and going to ground under contact. With the play broken up, referee Mark Geiger had no choice but to point to the spot. Naturally, it was the Maestro, Diego Valeri, who stepped up and buried the penalty past the dive of Clark, picking out the lower left hand corner to give the Timbers the 1-0 lead with his 21st goal of the season.
United came close to answering just four minutes into the half when Luciano Acosta put a strong header on a cross into the box from USMNT winger Paul Arriola. Acosta’s header had Jeff Attinella sprawling across the face of goal to knock it away before springing up and making himself big for the follow up save on Patrick Mullins from point blank range.
However, it was Portland who would grab the second goal in the match moments later, as Diego Valeri played a long switch to Alvas Powell on the right wing in the 50th minute. Powell drove forward to the edge of the D.C. box before cutting inside and letting loose a curling, left-footed shot that just picked out the far post to make the match 2-0. The assist was Valeri’s 10th of the season, making him just the second player in MLS history to score twenty goals and ten assists in a season.
Ten minutes later the Timbers struck again, this time through an outstanding combination from Valeri and Sebastian Blanco on the edge of the box. After Valeri took down a long ball on the juggle, the Maestro found the run of Blanco down the wing before peeling off toward the top of the box. Blanco played a quick ball Valeri’s feet and cut inside for the return pass, which Valeri put directly into his path. Running onto the ball, Blanco fired off a curling shot from distance that left Clark waving at air as it rippled the back of the net.
Late pressure from D.C. saw Attinella forced into a series of acrobatic saves, working hard to preserve the shutout as the match wound down; but again it was the Timbers who got on the scoresheet in the 87th minute. After getting on the ball in the midfield, Blanco drove forward, juking his way past one defender in the box, then another, and finally taking a touch past the United keeper and tucking the ball home.
The Timbers close out the regular season next week with a home match against the Vancouver Whitecaps that could see either side take first place in the Western Conference thanks to dropped points this weekend from Vancouver and Sporting Kansas City.