The Portland Timbers brought the big guns to Wednesday night’s U.S. Open Cup match against the LA Galaxy, blowing away the California club 4-0 thanks to big nights from Brian Fernandez, Sebastian Blanco, and Jeremy Ebobisse.
After an early smattering of attacks from the Galaxy put the Timbers under pressure and forced Steve Clark into an early save, the Timbers took control of the match and pinned the Galaxy back for long stretches of the early going.
The visitors looked to break out and hit the Timbers on the counter, utilizing the speed of Emma Boateng up top and, in the 10th minute, they came close to opening the scoring doing just that. A long ball down the Timbers’ right found Boateng in space and the crafty attacker cut inside and hit a strong shot at goal, but right at Clark who knocked the ball down and gathered it up before another Galaxy player could pounce.
The chance had an immediate evening effect on play, giving the Galaxy a shot of confidence that had previously been lacking from their play.
That confidence did them no good when, in the 28th minute, the Timbers broke the deadlock. After Sebastian Blanco was taken down in the LA end, Tomas Conechny stepped up and served a curling free kick into the box, finding the run of none-other than Brian Fernandez. Fernandez nodded a header toward goal, but it was Galaxy enforcer Perry Kitchen who put it into the back of the net, toe-poking the ball past Matt Lampson to put the Timbers up 1-0.
The Timbers extended their lead in the 33rd minute when Blanco spotted a streaking run out of the midfield from Jeremy Ebobisse and found him with a perfectly placed ball over the Galaxy back line. As he ran onto the ball, Ebobisse took its measure and waited for Lampson to commit to closing him down before flicking the ball on and into the path of Fernandez. For a brief moment it looked as though a Galaxy defender would have a chance to break up the play, but a favorable bounce carried the ball past his recovery run and to Fernandez who simply poked it over the line to give the Timbers a two goal lead.
The goals continued to come for the Timbers when, just three minutes later, Jorge Moreira found Blanco in space outside the box. After taking a touch, Blanco slashed a cutting shot toward goal. As the ball dipped down under the crossbar, Lampson was able to get a finger to it, but could not stop the flight of the ball before it splashed into the back of the net.
With their lead looking solid coming into the second half, the Timbers took their foot off the gas while seeming to remain in firm control of the match. Despite the Galaxy coming out of the locker rooms with something to prove, the visitors still struggled to make their mark.
As the half wore on and the Galaxy introduced a bevy of fresh legs into the match, the visitors were able to earn a series of free kicks and corners, but never managed to threaten the Timbers goal.
Despite the match slowing down, the Timbers were not done yet and, in the 82nd minute, they grabbed their fourth. After a quick break and some sharp passing down the left flank, Brian Fernandez hit a long ball across the top of the box that skipped behind second half substitute Diego Valeri and into the path of Moreira. As the ball hopped up off the turf, Moreira struck on the half volley, deflecting the ball off Galaxy full back Dave Romney and into the back of the net.
The Galaxy came tantalizingly close to grabbing a consolation goal off a pair of chances in the 85th minute. First, homegrown forward Ethan Zubak found himself one on one with Clark before the Timbers keeper stopped his shot with a smart kick-save, then youngster Efrain Alvarez sent a follow up shot off the post moments later. The ball stayed out of the net, however, and the the Timbers held on to the shutout as they advance past the Galaxy 4 to 0.
The Timbers are back in action on Saturday when they will host the Houston Dynamo in league play.