The Portland Timbers came close to taking all three points from the Houston Dynamo in today’s difficult road match, but in the end will have to be happy with a 2-2 draw thanks to goals from Diego Valeri and Sebastian Blanco.
After some shaky early moments, the Timbers were quick to assert themselves on the match, grabbing the opening goal in just the 13th minute. The move started with returned Gold Cup champion Darlington Nagbe driving down the center of the pitch before sending a simple ball wide right and into the path of Zarek Valentin. With defenders scrambling to close him down, Valentin hit a low, sharp ball into the box which skipped past the boot of Houston center back Leonardo and found Diego Valeri. As the Dynamo defense looked on, Valeri only had to take a quick touch before hammering a shot up and over the waving arms of Tyler Deric, which deflected off the underside of the bar and bounced down over the line to open the scoring.
The Dynamo would not be shut out and as the oppressive heat and humidity of mid-summer Houston wore at the Timbers, the home side struck back. In the 37th minute, a probing cross into the Timbers box looked destined for Erick Torres at the back post only for Jake Gleeson to go up and knock the ball away at full stretch. Unfortunately for the Timbers, Gleeson’s intervention was not strong enough and the ball fell neatly to Houston forward Mauro Manotas just inside the box who hit a sharp volley down and off the pitch, sending the ball skipping into the net to even up the score at one apiece.
Despite the conditions at BBVA, the Dynamo goal seemed to energize the Timbers, and the visitors regained their lead just before the half. This time, the goal came from the left flank as Sebastian Blanco played Valeri into the Dynamo box then set off on a charging run toward the penalty spot. The Dynamo defense stepped to Valeri, but lost track of Blanco, allowing the Maestro to slip a return ball to his fellow Argentine. In space Blanco took a quick touch then placed a side-footed shot past Deric for the 2-1 lead.
The Timbers thought they had extended their lead in the 54th minute when Diego Chara and Fanendo Adi broke down the pitch, getting the ball past the Dynamo back line before Chara headed the ball past Tyler Deric to Adi who touched the ball home for the finish. Although the referee initially called the play a goal, after a brief chat with his assistant the goal was overturned due to offside interference from Adi during the buildup.
The Dynamo would find another answer to a Timbers lead in the 81st minute. Pushing forward for an equalizer, the Dynamo earned a free kick when Chara took down Houston substitute Alberth Elis wide on the Timbers’ left. Dynamo homegrown Memo Rodriguez stepped up and sent a curling ball to the Timbers’ back post. Cutting in from the outside, Juan Cabezas got free of Valentin and headed the ball hard off the pitch, bouncing it up and over the dive of Gleeson. Cabezas’s header brought the score even at 2-2, where it would stand until full time.
The Timbers are back home for their next match, where they will host Sigi Schmidt and the LA Galaxy on Sunday, August 6th.