The Portland Timbers notched their first shutout of the season Saturday night and did so in style, beating the Houston Dynamo 4-0 at Providence Park. Despite a debut goal from Marvin Loria and yet another tally from goal-machine Brian Fernandez, it was Diego Valeri’s night with the Maestro notching a goal and three assists.
Right off the starting whistle, the Timbers found a series of chances for Fernandez, putting the visitors under pressure and keeping play in the attacking end. Fernandez managed a volley and a header within the first ten minutes, each flying just over the bar. In the 11th minute, however, he finally managed to test Dynamo keeper Joe Willis, bringing down a pass from Jeremy Ebobisse at the top of the box, cutting around his man, and hitting a curling, left-footed shot that Willis dove at full stretch to push wide of goal.
The save proved a turning point for the Dynamo, shifting the momentum of the match in their favor and breaking the Timbers’ early stranglehold on the ball. From there, the match opened up, with both sides enjoying stretches of control, but neither managing to make much of it.
The Dynamo came close to open the scoring in the 38th minute when a Timbers give away in the defensive end gave the visitors a three on two break on goal. The Dynamo found wide midfielder Marlon Hairston on the right side of the box for a quick shot that deflected off Julio Cascante and wrong-footed Steve Clark before clanging off the post.
Moments later, it was the Timbers on the break and they would make their chance count. A quick hit down the pitch found Valeri out on the right wing where the Maestro curled a looping ball for the run of Jorge Moreira at the back post. As the ball dropped to his head, Moreira nodded it down and into the path of first-team debutant Loria. With the ball bouncing in front of him, Loria threw himself into an acrobatic scissor-kick, hitting it on the volley and sending a shot skipping along the pitch, below Willis, and into the back of the net.
The Timbers had a chance to extend their lead in the 58th minute when Fernandez played a rolling ball to Valeri, who kept it going into the Dynamo box for the run of Loria. As he arrived at the ball, Loria touched it forward past a tackle from DeMarcus Beasley and was taken down. After a quick review, referee Alan Kelly pointed to the spot. Valeri stepped up to the spot for the Timbers and, sending Willis the wrong way, struck the ball home, putting the Timbers up 2-0 in the 61st.
The goals kept coming when, just two minutes later, the Timbers broke down the pitch after foiling a Dynamo free kick. Again it was Valeri orchestrating play when he received the ball in the center of the pitch, pulled up to let a defender run by him, then served a ball over the top for Fernandez in space on the left flank. Bringing the ball down, Fernandez charged in on goal and cracked a low shot to the far post that gave Willis no chance at a save and the Timbers a 3-0 lead. The goal, Fernandez’s fifth in four league matches since joining the Timbers, tied the forward for the most consecutive games with a goal to start an MLS career.
In the 75th minute, it was Ebobisse’s turn to score and again it was Valeri providing the service. A pass from Valeri found his striker out wide on the left where Ebobisse corralled the ball, cut inside onto his right boot, and hit a curling shot that perfectly picked out the far post.
The Timbers are on the road with a quick turnaround for their next match when they will take on the Montreal Impact this Wednesday, June 26th.