The Portland Timbers welcomed the LA Galaxy to town on Saturday night and proceeded to take their visitors apart, winning 4-0 on a brace from midfielder Cristhian Paredes. Despite being without Diego Chara, the Timbers were able to present a stout defense and explosive attack to take down their Western Confernece rivals.
The Timbers fired the first shot of the match in the 5th minute when Paredes corralled the ball in the center of the pitch before sending a through ball forward for Brian Fernandez. Taking the ball in stride, Fernandez took a touch into the box before firing a shot toward the near post only to see it go wide and hit the outside netting.
Again the Timbers threatened in the 16th minute after a quick series of passes through the center of the pitch saw Diego Valeri slip a ball into the Galaxy box for the run of Paredes. The young Paraguayan took a touch forward, but lost control and went to ground as the ball rolled past Galaxy keeper David Bingham and out for a goal kick. Although Bingham was close to Paredes when he went down, referee Alan Chapman had no hesitation in handing him a yellow card for simulation.
In the 21st minute, Valeri took the ball off the boot of Jonathan dos Santos in the Galaxy end, took a touch to the side to unbalance his defender, and hit a shot on goal that forced Bingham to parry the ball away.
Less than a minute later, Sebastian Blanco received the ball in the center of the pitch and hit a through ball for the streaking run of Fernandez down the left flank. Sprinting toward goal, Fernandez took a long touch forward then ran onto the ball and struck, forcing Bingham into a diving save across the face of goal to push the shot wide.
Finally, in the 38th minute, the Timbers broke the deadlock. After a quick break down the pitch, the Timbers found the feet of Jorge Moreira who hit a curling cross into the Galaxy box with a wave of attackers rushing toward goal. As the ball dropped in the center of the box, Paredes rose up out of the pack to put a head to it. Paredes nodded the ball forward, sending it skipping just out of Bingham’s reach and over the line, giving the Timbers a 1-0 lead.
In the 40th minute, the Galaxy tried to answer, working the ball into the Timbers box and finding fullback Diego Polenta committed forward on the Timbers’ right. Polenta served a ball into the box that found Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the big Swede got off a shot only to have it palmed away by a strong reaction save from Steve Clark.
With the Galaxy chance broken up, the Timbers immediately sent the ball forward and Blanco found Valeri on a streaking run down the left. Valeri brought the ball down and charged into the Galaxy box then cut toward the center of the pitch, nutmegging center back Daniel Steres in the process. With his defender dispatched, Valeri hit a perfectly placed shot past Bingham and into the far corner to give the Timbers a 2-0 lead.
Coming out of the locker room in the second half the Galaxy looked determined to get back in the game and, in the 47th minute, nearly did just that. After working the ball around the edge of the Timbers box, it was knocked down among a scrum of players and fell to Favio Alvarez inside the box. The Galaxy midfielder snapped off a quick shot, but his attempt was deflected up and into the body of Clark who stood strong to preserve the lead.
The Timbers were not back on their heels for long and in the 50th minute they were again on the break. This time Valeri found Blanco with a long, looping ball over the top of the Galaxy back line. Blanco brought the ball down and hit a curler toward the far post, but Bingham had time to react and make the diving save.
In the 59th minute, the Galaxy managed a break forward of their own, finding Uriel Antuna on the run down the Timbers’ right. Altuna clipped a ball in just behind the run of Ibrahimovic, but the big man was able to check himself and still put a snap header on goal; however without the power to trouble Clark, who easily snuffed out the chance.
The Galaxy came closer in the 75th minute, when a staggered Timbers back line allowed them to slip a ball in behind for Ibrahimovic, wide on the Timbers’ left. Picking his head up, Ibrahimovic slipped a smooth pass across the face of goal for the run of Antuna. As the ball arrived at his feet, Antuna powered a first-time shot on goal but Clark was there, scrambling across the face of goal and diving at full stretch to make the stop.
Another goal was coming in the match, but it was not for the visitors. In the 81st minute, the Timbers again broke down the pitch, this time through some stellar interplay from Jorge Villafana and substitute Marvin Loria down the left. After being played into space, Villafana hit a low, square pass to Paredes at the top of the box where the midfielder controlled the ball then hit it on the volley as it checked up on him, sending an arching ball just over the fingertips of the Galaxy keeper and into the back of the net to put the Timbers up 3-0.
As the match wound down, the proceedings got even worse for the Galaxy when substitute Efrain Alvarez was sent off with a straight red card from Chapman. As a collision sent Loria tumbling to the turf near the sideline, Alvarez unthinkingly struck the ball, sending it into the back of Loria’s head as it hit the ground.
Finally, in the 89th minute, the Timbers put the final nail in the Galaxy coffin. With the ball at his feet deep in the Galaxy end, Villafana chipped a cross up and over Bingham, finding Jeremy Ebobisse at the back post where the young striker rose up and finished off the move with a strong header into the back of the net.
Moments after the final whistle, two more red cards were shown as Dairon Asprilla and Galaxy full back Diego Polenta came together for some extra-curricular shoving. As the two players were pulled apart, Chapman was quick to show each a red in an attempt to diffuse the situation.
The Timbers are on the road for their next match when they will take on Minnesota United in league play on Sunday, August 4th. They will then stay in Minnesota for their second match of the week when they will again face the Loons on Wednesday, August 7th, for the semi-finals of the U.S. Open Cup.