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Houston Dynamo score 5; defeat Portland 4-1

MLS: Portland Timbers at Houston Dynamo Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

On a hot night in Houston, the Portland Timbers looked to get a quick start in their first of three games over the next eight days. Diego Valeri and Sebastian Blanco combined quickly down the middle of the field off the kickoff to get Blanco into the box. Blanco was forced out, but off of an ensuing throw, the Timbers nearly created a shot for Jeremy Ebobisse after Valeri attempted a square pass across the six yard box.

The Timbers continued to control the match for the first several minutes, and in the 10th minute created a goal from an Alvas Powell cross which deflected off Alejandro Fuenmayor’s boot to chip Joe Willis. 1-0 for the Timbers.

In the 17th minute, the Dynamo almost benefited from an own goal the other way. On a Houston corner kick, Steve Clark came out to try and swat the ball away, but didn’t make good contact and the ball fell to Larrys Mabiala on the far post. Mabiala took an awkward touch that looked destined for the side netting until Julio Cascante made an acrobatic clearance off the goal line to save the own goal.

After that close call, the Timbers looked frazzled for the next few minutes, almost giving up a dangerous free kick on the edge of the box, and seeing a cross from DaMarcus Beasley sail just wide of the far corner of the goal.

In the 31st minute, the Dynamo win the ball in midfield and start a quick counter attack which forces Zarek Valentin to foul Alberth Elis and earn himself a yellow card. Taking the ensuing free kick, Tomas Martinez chipped a ball to the near post, which Elis was able to head off the post and into the goal, leveling the score at one a piece.

Just seven minutes later, Willis launches another counter with a roll out to Martinez who finds Elis wide in the right corner. Elis fires a cross towards the back post of the Timbers goal where Mauro Manotas had just slipped past Mabiala and was able to tap in the goal. 2-1 Dynamo.

In the dying minutes of the half, the Timbers thought they had leveled the game after a slick series of passes involving Diego Chara, Jeremy Ebobisse, and Blanco resulted in Valeri playing a cross along the ground to Chara on the far post, where he was able to easily tap in the tying goal. However, after a brief video review, Valeri was called offside and the goal was called off.

The second half began similarly to the first, with the Timbers largely controlling the match, and the Dynamo occasionally looking dangerous on the counter. In the 55th minute, Jared Watts was forced off by injury and replaced by Kevin Garcia. The Timbers also took the opportunity to substitute Zarek Valentin off and bring on Jorge Villafana.

In the 65th minute, Manotas received a pass just behind the Timbers’ back line inside the penalty area. Clark came out to make the challenge, but apparently missed the ball, took out Manotas, and conceded a penalty. However, this, too, was not to be as both the Assistant Referee’s flag went up to call Manotas offside, and Referee Marrufo brandished a yellow card to punish Manotas for what he had ruled (and replay confirmed) was a total dive.

In the 71st minute, Houston had another dangerous attack, getting Elis into the right corner, one on one with the substitute, Jorge Villafana. Elis was able to create just enough space to send in a high cross towards goal which Clark can only parry up and into the center of the penalty area. Unfortunately for the Timbers, the ball fell straight to Manotas who took a well-struck side volley to widen the lead to 3-1.

Off a corner in the 76th minutes, the Timbers were almost able to pull one back. Ebobisse lost his mark in the center of the box and rose up well to meet Valeri’s service. Unfortunately, he was only able to head the ball straight down off the ground and into Willis’ chest.

Over the next few minutes, the Timbers continued to create chances and almost looked like they would change the momentum of the match. However, it was not to be, and in the 81st minute, Houston widened their lead even farther after Fuenmayor was able to score at the far post off a flicked-on corner.

Four minutes into stoppage time, the Timbers had another promising opportunity when Valeri sent a penetrating through ball into the Dynamo box for Blanco who got their, but was just unable to put his shot on target, instead firing it inches wide of the far post. The score remained 4-1, which would become the final scoreline seconds afterward.

The Timbers return to action this Wednesday night in Portland when they host the Columbus Crew for what may be the last time ever.