After a slow first half, the Portland Timbers turned it on late to run over expansion side Minnesota United in an emphatic 5-1 win. Diego Valeri and Fanendo Adi each scored a brace and Vytas notched a pair of assists in the season opener.
The Timbers got on top of Minnesota early, controlling possession in the opening minutes of the match and they would make that possession count in the 15th minute, as Sebastian Blanco fought his way through a pair of defenders to win a loose ball deep in the Minnesota end, only to be brought down for a free kick out by the corner flag. With the players packing the box, Diego Valeri stepped up and hit a hard free kick at the near post, finding the head of Vytas, who flicked the ball on, finding the foot of Lawrence Olum. As it dropped to him, Olum held off a defender and managed to get a touch to the ball, sending a looping, bouncing ball past Loons keeper John Alvbage for the opening goal.
Now up, the Timbers poured on the pressure and looked to have another chance in the 22nd minute as Vytas found Valeri with an early cross to the back post. The Maestro reached out a boot and connected on the volley only to see the outstretched arm of a Minnesota defender knock the ball away. The Timbers appealed for a penalty, but referee Chris Penso waved play on.
As the half wore on, the Timbers remained the more dangerous team, but Minnesota began to exert some control, holding the bulk of the possession going into the half.
Moments after the half, however, the Timbers extended their lead as, in the 47th minute, Alvas Powell drove down the pitch on the right flank before cutting side. As the defense collapsed on him, Powell slipped the ball back outside for Blanco in space. With room to breathe, Blanco dropped a well-weighted cross into the Loons box, finding the head of Valeri, who powered his header past Alvbage to make the score 2-0.
The Loons would pull one back late on in the match, getting on the scoreboard in the 79th minute. Getting on the ball wide on the right, Johan Venegas sent a quick pass to Christian Ramiriez at the top of the Timbers box. In space between the Timbers’ center backs, Ramirez was able to turn and fire a low shot past the dive of Jake Gleeson to make the score 2-1.
The Timbers would regain their two goal lead only moments later, however, as Fanendo Adi was dragged down in the Minnesota box, leaving Penso no choice but to point to the spot. It was the Maestro who would step up to the spot and Valeri buries the penalty past Alvbage for the goal.
As the match entered stoppage time the Timbers were not content with their lead and Adi took it upon himself to increase it. First the Timbers big man was on hand and in space as Darlington Nagbe drove at the Minnesota box before dishing to Adi. With the ball at his feet, Adi danced around the onrushing form of Alvbage, then coolly slotted home his shot between the late arriving Loons defense.
Moments later is was Adi again as a pass found him in space down the left flank. With Loons center back Vadim Demidov in front of him, Adi drove forward and shook off his man before hammering home a tight-angled shot to put the match to bed at 5-1.
The Timbers are back in action next Sunday when they travel to California to take on the LA Galaxy.