The Portland Timbers extended their winning streak to five straight matches today as they took down expansion side Los Angeles FC 2-1. Both Cristhian Paredes and Samuel Armenteros opened their scoring accounts in the Timbers win.
From the outset, the game played out like a chess match. With both sides switching between creating through possession and looking to draw out their opponents to hit on the counter, there was rarely a moment to breathe for either.
The Timbers were dealt a blow early in the match, however, as Liam Ridgewell pulled up lame in just the third minute after clearing away a long ball deep in the Timbers half. Ridgewell went down holding his leg and was substituted off immediately, bringing on Julio Cascante for his first appearance as a Timber.
Early in the match the Timbers managed a series of strong chances, culminating in a move in the 9th minute that put Fanendo Adi through on goal. A well played through ball from Andy Polo found Adi making a run through the LAFC back line. The Timbers’ big man collected the ball and took a touch before hitting a hard shot on goal only for the attempt to slam off the near post and bounce away. Alvas Powell was on hand to redirect the ball back into the box, but the Timbers were not able to put a follow-up on goal.
In the 30th minute LAFC found a strong chance of their own. A darting, diagonal run through the Timbers’ box saw Latif Blessing get in on goal. Blessing touched the ball around Jeff Attinella as the Timbers keeper rushed out to meet him, but the move took him too wide and Blessing could only put a shot into the side netting.
As the match wore on, what had been a breakneck pace slowed due to to a series of fouls and injury stoppages, breaking up the flow of the match. After the half, however, both sides came out raring and ready to go.
The Timbers came close to opening their account in the 50th minute, finding Adi with a long ball over the top that the forward chested down in the LAFC box. Adi managed to get off a shot, but LAFC keeper Tyler Miller was there to block the ball away.
Two minute later, the Timbers would get their breakthrough. After Sebastian Blanco was taken down on the edge of the LAFC box, Diego Valeri stepped up to take the free kick, sending a curling ball in that Miller was able to knock down before it snuck inside the far post. As the ball skittered away from goal Cristhian Paredes was the first on the scene and the youngster calmly slotted the ball home to give the Timbers a 1-0 lead.
Now down a goal, the visitors committed to the attack, pressing the Timbers high up the pitch and attacking in waves.
The visitors finally pulled even in the 74th minute as designated player Carlos Vela got on the ball on the flank just inside the Timbers box. With space around him, Vela took a touch inside and hit a curling ball that arched over Attinella before hitting the back of the net to put the sides at one goal apiece.
The even scoreline would not last, however, and it was Samuel Armenteros who pulled the Timbers back into the lead in the 81st minute. Picking up the ball in the midfield, Armenteros dribbled forward, letting his teammates around him make runs to draw off defenders before unleashing a thunderous shot that skipped past the dive of Tyler Miller before rippling the back of the net.
With the Timbers back in the lead, LAFC doubled down on the attack, giving the Timbers several nervy minutes as they pushed for their second equalizer only to see time run out with the home side still ahead.
The Timbers end the match in third place in the Western Conference. They are on the road next Saturday when they will take on the last place Colorado Rapids.