The Portland Timbers broke their losing streak today, beating Toronto FC 2-0 and moving back above the red line in the Western Conference. The Timbers win was built with a strong defensive performance and capped off by goals from David Guzman and Diego Chara.
The Timbers were quick out of the gate, looking dangerous on the break in the early going. As the heavily rotated Toronto side looked to find their footing, the Timbers found success by switching the field and bringing their full backs into the play.
The first real chance of the match came in the 8th minute as the Timbers passed the ball around the left wing before a chipped ball into the box from Sebastian Blanco found Samuel Armenteros in the box. Although Armenteros’s run carried him away from goal, the Timbers forward was able to spin on his man, sending the Toronto defender sprawling to the ground. With reinforcements arriving, Armenteros elected to do it himself, shooting at the near post from a tight angle only for his shot to splash into the side-netting.
The chance shook the visitors awake and, in the 10th minute, Toronto found a chance of their own. Receiving the ball at the edge of the Timbers box, Jozy Altidore turned and sent a through ball to the end line for the overlapping run of Ryan Telfer. Telfer played in a waist-level cross that found Toronto forward Lucas Janson for the redirection toward goal. The ball spun forward, out of the reach of Jeff Attinella, before bouncing off the post and being cleared away by Jorge Villafana.
With play now shifting from end to end, both teams threatened, but chances remained hard to come by.
In the 23rd minute, however, the Timbers had a pair of ripe opportunities as they broke forward through Zarek Valentin on the right flank. Receiving a through ball, Valentin took a touch forward before hitting a low, hard pass to Diego Valeri at the near post. Valeri was able to touch the ball toward goal, but could not redirect it around keeper Clint Irwin who was able to make the save.
Moments later, it was Blanco carrying the ball toward the end line before cutting a pass back into the path of Armenteros. The striker hit a hard, first time shot only to see it slam into the torso of Toronto captain Michael Bradley and deflect away from goal.
In the 38th minute, the Timbers found reason to complain as Diego Chara was taken down with a body check from Marky Delgado, who was already on a yellow card, as he started to break down the pitch. After consulting with the assistant referee and the fourth official, referee Fotis Bazakos declined to issue the second yellow, much to the displeasure of the Timbers.
The call seemed to rob the Timbers of the momentum that they had been building as the half wore on and neither side was able to mount much of an attack before heading into the locker room for half time.
The second half saw both sides looking to reassert themselves and it took until the 57th minute for the Timbers to put together something dangerous. When they did it came on the break as Andy Polo picked up the ball deep in the Timbers half and went forward before playing a long pass along the ground to Blanco on the run. Carrying the ball into the Toronto box, Blanco created space for himself with a quick shimmy of the hips and took a low shot that Irwin was able to parry away.
Revitalized, the chances began to come for the Timbers and in the 62nd minute they came close once again. As the Timbers pushed forward quickly on the break, Armenteros slipped the ball forward to Blanco as the Argentine entered the Toronto box. Dribbling his way around a pair of Toronto defenders, Blanco found himself in on goal but off balance and could only look away in frustration after blazing his close-range shot over the bar.
The frustration would not last long, however, as the Timbers finally found the back of the net in the 64th minute. Again hitting out on the break, this time the Timbers found Blanco floating out wide to the right. Receiving the ball in space, Blanco was able to lift his head and send a rolling pass behind the Toronto back line and into the path of Diego Chara at the back post. With Irwin scrambling one way, Chara sent the ball the other, picking out the back of the net with a simple touch forward and giving the Timbers a 1-0 lead.
Toronto pushed back and, in the 80th minute, Bradley played substitute Jay Chapman into the Timbers box. From a tight angle, Chapman unloaded a heavy-footed shot on goal that forced Attinella into a strong punch to steer the ball away from goal.
The Timbers were able to grab an insurance goal in the 83rd minute when David Guzman put the Toronto back line under pressure high up the pitch. Taking the ball off the foot of Michael Bradley on the edge of the box, Guzman took a touch and shot, picking out the near post to give the Timbers a 2-0 lead.
The Timbers came close to getting their third in the 86th minute, when Valeri slipped a through ball into the Toronto box for returning forward Lucas Melano to run onto. Melano shot, looking for the far post, but Irwin was able to stick out a boot and knock the ball wide.
There was one final nervy moment for the Timbers when, in the 89th minute, Toronto were able to put a headed ball off the cross bar on a corner kick, then Altidore slammed the rebound up into the 200-level stands of Providence Park.
The Timbers are on the road for their next match when they will take on the New England Revolution this Saturday, September 1st.