Three games in and the Portland Timbers are still perfect after knocking off the Houston Dynamo in a 4-2 win. A Diego Valeri brace was the cornerstone of a comprehensive attacking effort to improve the team to 3-0-0.
The Timbers grabbed an early lead in the 11th minute as they kept Houston pinned back. Finding space down the right flank, the Timbers got the ball on the foot of winger Sebastian Blanco and the new designated player hit a cross into the Dynamo box only to see his attempt blocked by DeMarcus Beasley. The chance was not lost for the Timbers, however, as referee Alan Chapman stopped play and pointed to the spot, awarding a penalty kick for a hand ball against Beasley after the ball deflected off his elbow.
Diego Valeri stepped up to the spot for the Timbers and took his penalty well, sending a hard shot straight down the middle as Dynamo keeper Tyler Deric dove to the side. With the penalty converted, the Timbers were up 1-0 and looked to be in the driver’s seat.
The Dynamo, however, had other ideas and continued to look for chances on the break as the Timbers pressed forward in possession. Late in the first half, Houston’s ability to break quickly down the field would pay dividends.
In the 38th minute, the Dynamo were awarded a penalty of their own. After a quick break down the pitch was ended by a foul just outside the Timbers’ box, Erick Torres hit a hard free kick into the Timbers’ wall, only for the ball to hit the arm of Diego Chara and Kelly to point to the penalty spot once again. After some confusion, Torres stepped up and hit a hard shot to the right of Jake Gleeson. The Timbers’ keeper dove the correct direction, but the penalty kick had too much power and hit the back of the net to bring the Dynamo even at one apiece.
The Dynamo would strike again before the half ended, getting the ball quickly down the pitch in the second minute of first half stoppage time. Finding Elis charging down the Timbers’ left, the young Dynamo winger carried the ball forward then played a long diagonal ball to Romell Quioto at the back post. With no defender near him, Quioto was able to slip a side-footed shot past Gleeson and give Houston the 2-1 lead.
The Timbers would come charging back to start the second half, however, evening things up in the 58th minute. After a long period of possession around the Houston box, the ball fell to Zarek Valentin pushed high up the Timbers’ left. The left back hit a beautifully placed cross into the path of Valeri, charing through the heart of the Houston box. As the ball dropped into his path, Valeri flung himself forward, hammering home a header past Deric and into the back of the net.
In the 66th minute the Timbers retook the lead, this time breaking through the center of the Dynamo line. With David Guzman driving into the box, the Timbers’ No. 6 played a quick pass to Darlington Nagbe. As defenders swarmed him, Nagbe spun on the ball and somehow managed to slide it back into the path of Guzman. Now one on one with Deric, Guzman flicked the ball up and over the slide of the keeper, hurdled him, and touched the ball home to give the Timbers a 3-2 lead.
The Timbers would finish the game off in the 88th minute as Houston pressed forward, looking for an equalizer. Off a bouncing clearance to Guzman, the Timbers midfielder played Adi in on goal and the big man dribbled past the slide of Deric before pulling up and hitting a placed shot between a pair of defenders to give the Timbers a 4-2 lead.
The Timbers are on the road next week, heading to Columbus for their next match on Saturday, March 25th.