The Portland Timbers took all three points in unnecessarily unnerving fashion in tonight’s 2-1 win over the Colorado Rapids, riding two first half goals to victory but letting the Rapids back into the match with the team’s usual sloppy play on the back line.
The Timbers struck first and second, notching a pair of quick goals in the 21st and 23rd minutes as they worked the ball around and through a Rapids lineup that started the match dedicated to keeping ten men behind the ball.
With the Timbers pressing forward and working the ball around the pitch, it was Diego Valeri who opened the scoring. Making a forceful run to the penalty spot, Valeri rose up and put a head on a cross from Vytas Andriuškevičius, nodding the ball down and off the pitch to beat Rapids Keeper and USMNT Legend Tim Howard. The goal was Valeri’s 52nd for the club, moving him past Fanendo Adi and into sole possession of the All-Time Leading Scorer record for the Timbers.
The Timbers were emboldened by the goal and just two minutes later, Darlington Nagbe showed some of the audacity that won him the 2011 MLS Goal of the Year as he roasted Howard and the Colorado defense for the Timbers’ second. Receiving a Vytas pass inside the Rapids’ box, Nagbe turned on a dime and sent a chipped in shot curling over Howard, who was stranded in no man’s land, and just under the bar to put the Timbers up 2-0.
Smelling blood in the water, the Timbers continued to circle, looking for their third, but it was the Rapids who would strike next, capitalizing on some typical Timbers defending. As the Timbers back line passed the ball around to reset play, Rapids midfielder Mohammed Saeid stepped up and caught Lawrence Olum napping, intercepting a pass out of the back with room to run. With the Timbers’ defense backpedaling, Saeid dribbled forward to the edge of the box before hitting a low rolling shot that picked out the far post and squeezed in past the dive of Jeff Attinella.
The Timbers had a chance to restore their two goal lead in the 31st minute as Diego Valeri was hauled down in the Rapids box by full back Mike de Fonte. Although the call did not initially go the way of the Timbers, it was brought to referee David Gantar’s attention for video review and after a moment’s pause, he pointed to the spot. Up stepped midfielder David Guzman to take, eager to make his mark on the match, but the Costa Rican international perhaps felt the pressure of a one goal Timbers lead and hit his spot kick low, hard, and wide past the post leaving the score at 2-1.
The possession stayed with the Timbers as the match wore on, but in grabbing their goal the Rapids had found a wide crack in the home side's defense: fast, intense pressure, disrupting the Timbers’ passing out of the back. With speedsters like Marlon Hairston and Dominic Badji coming off the bench, the Rapids went hard after every errant pass from Olum and his center back partner Roy Miller, coming close to opening up the Timbers on several occasions.
It was not to be for the visitors, however, as the Timbers were able to shut down the Rapids’ regular forays forward while only conceding a single shot on target in the second half.
The Timbers are on the road for their next match, heading up north to take on their rivals the Seattle Sounders in a pivotal Cascadia Cup match on Sunday, August 27th.