In one of the most exciting matches of the 2020 season so far for the Portland Timbers, the lads in green took down the LA Galaxy 6-3. It was the second time this season the Timbers scored six goals in a match.
The Timbers went with a 4-2-3-1 to start this one. Felipe Mora started at the coveted number nine spot, while Jeremy Ebobisse played on the wing. The Galaxy were notably without Chicharito, who was with his wife for the birth of their second child.
Portland was looking great early on, especially in the final third. The midfield was delivering crosses right into the box. Not every opportunity translated into goals for Portland, but the drought wouldn’t last long.
Diego Chara put a ball forward to Yimmi Chara from the left wing in the 14th minute. Yimmi sprinted at the ball — which looked almost out of reach for him — and delivered a cut back to Mora. The Chilean striker sent it right to the back of the goal, giving Portland a 1-0 lead. They’ve been one of the best teams at scoring first, with this being the 12th time they scored first in a match.
The Timbers didn’t wait long to get another phenomenal goal. Valeri delivered a beautiful pass to Mora, who tried to flick it back and instead kicked into the arm of Nicholas DePuy for a handball. Valeri and Ebobisse set up for a close free kick, lining up side-by-side to keep the Galaxy guessing. Ebobisse took the shot and lasered right into the top of the goal right out of the keeper’s reach, making it 2-0 Portland in the 22nd minute. It was the first time in his MLS career that he’s taken a shot from a free kick.
LA Galaxy found their way into the final third often as well, but Portland’s back line was strong enough to start. Larrys Mabiala and Dario Zuparic looked engaged defensively. They weren’t perfect, but they were able to quickly make up for mistakes to make life more difficult for the Galaxy. That did not last forever.
The Galaxy eventually broke through in the 34th minute. They earned the corner off the foul by Pablo Bonilla, which was headed out of the box and right into the feet of Julian Araujo. The right back kicked a defense-splitting shot that rolled right into the bottom-left corner of the goal. It was Araujo’s first MLS goal. The Timbers still led 2-1.
The offensive pressure from the Galaxy was consistent through the end of the half. Portland was able to sit deep enough to not get destroyed, but the Galaxy just kept finding opportunity after opportunity in the final third. The Galaxy ended the half with 11 shots to Portland’s five. Despite some scares, the Timbers were able to hold on to a 2-1 lead heading going into halftime.
The second half started, and Portland decided that they really liked the whole scoring unbelievable goals thing and decided to do it again. The Timbers quickly got the ball into the box. Yimmi Chara delivered a ball to Felipe Mora, who then pushed it ahead to Diego Valeri. El Maestro took the ball and chipped it beautifully over both DePuy and Bingham. It seemingly dropped right into the goal, and very quickly it was 3-1 Portland.
If this were a normal match, Portland would have just held on and not given the Galaxy any chances to come in. But then again, the match would’ve been way more boring! Instead, in the 54th minute after the referee almost gave the Galaxy a penalty from a potential Valeri handball, Christian Pavon placed a beautiful cross right where Ethan Zubak could head it into the goal. The Timbers once again lost their cushion as the Galaxy cut their lead to one.
Writing recaps is hard. You think have a hold on a match and then something like Zubak’s goal happens. Little did this recapper know that the Timbers were about to open the floodgates very quickly.
It started with Mora’s second goal of the night in the 60th minute. Yimmi Chara pushed it slightly ahead to Jorge Villafana down the left side of the box. Villafana took the ball and made the short cross to Mora, who perfectly found the space and netted an easy goal in the process. Mora had the brace and the Timbers had a two-goal lead.
And the Timbers once again decided that they liked scoring goals off of free kicks, so in the 63rd minute Valeri launched one into the box where the center backs Zuparic and Mabiala happened to be. Zuparic’s initial header didn’t make it past Bingham, but Mabiala was right there for the follow. He waited for the ball to get in the perfect position to head it in, and then did so promptly. Mabiala’s first goal of the year also put the Timbers up 5-2.
But of course it would be too easy if the Timbers just maintained a safe lead. Instead, Pavon took a ball that was initially deflected but poorly cleared by Bonilla and launched it into the back of the net for his seventh goal of the season. The Galaxy just wouldn’t quit, and the toughness Portland had defensively in the first 30 minutes of the match was now nonexistent.
But while bad defense is not exactly ideal, it doesn’t matter quite as much when you just keep scoring goals. This seems to be what the Timbers figured out. In the 80th minute, although it looked momentarily like Villafana was offsides, it was not called and the defender was able to head it to Eryk Williamson. Williamson got an easy ball to Ebobisse, who took a quick dribble to his right before launching it into the goal. Before 2020, the Timbers had never scored six goals in an MLS match. They’ve now done so twice in the course of three weeks. Portland led 6-3.
2020 has been a strange year, and as I wrote this final paragraph, I was sure that something would happen. I didn’t know if it would be a goal from either side or a giant meteor crashing in Carson, California, but I figured something strange would occur with such an exciting game before us. But instead, the game stayed at 6-3, with Portland earning their fourth win in a row.
Portland will face off against the San Jose Earthquakes next. That match will take place in Providence Park on Sunday. Kickoff will be at 7 p.m. PT.