After securing the Cascadia Cup at the weekend, the Portland Timbers traveled down to Texas and took down second-in-the-Western Conference Austin FC 2-1. Bill Tuiloma opened the scoring in the first half, and Zac McGraw doubled the lead in the second, before Sebastian Driussi pulled a goal back for the hosts.
After a lengthy lightning delay, the Timbers deployed the same starting XI that put Seattle on top of the bonfire last weekend, with Dairon Asprilla and Zac McGraw retaining their places after herculean performances. New signing Juan David Mosquera travelled with the team to Austin, but wasn’t quite ready enough to claim a place in the 20-man matchday squad.
The first-half was one of the most exhilarating 45 minutes of soccer the Timbers have been involved in this season and a header from Bill Tuiloma off of an Eryk Williamson free-kick in the 17th minute separated the sides. Austin FC out-shot the Timbers 13-9 (!!!), and but for Aljaz Ivacic would have had at least one goal in their favor. The hosts also controlled 68.6 percent of the possession and dictated the run of play for the majority of the half. On the other end, Portland scored with their lone shot on target.
The second half largely played out as the first half did, with Austin controlling the tempo of the match and creating a multitude of dangerous chances. But as was the case in the first half, the Timbers would again find a goal against the run of play through one of their center backs, this time Zac McGraw for his first MLS goal in the 72nd minute.
Driussi would score for Austin seven minutes later to make the score 2-1, placing an intelligent header past Ivacic from close range. But in the end, the Timbers held on to secure a statement three points in the hunt for a playoff spot.
- 3’ Foreshadowing things to come, Bill Tuiloma got his noggin’ to a delightful deep free-kick from Eryk Williamson, but his header sailed well over the crossbar.
- 5’ Aljaz Ivacic made an incredible save to deny Ethan Finlay from scoring a diving header that would have opened the scoring for Austin FC.
- 11’ Alex Ring sent a flicked header off of the post from a deep set-piece for Austin FC. Luckily for the Timbers, the ball bounced to safety. From the resulting throw, Sebastian Driussi connected on a volley inside the box, but Dario Zuparic made a great block to quell the chance.
- 14’ Santiago Moreno chipped a beautiful pass into the path of Dairon Asprilla, whose loose touch fell to Yimmi Chara in the box. But Yimmi took one touch too many before letting off a shot, which allowed Gabrielsen to clear his shot off the line.
- 17’ GOAL TIMBERS, 1-0 After a frantic start to the match, it would be the Timbers who took the lead down in Austin. Dairon Asprilla was fouled on the left wing setting up another Eryk Williamson free-kick, and after another beautiful delivery, Bill Tuiloma was able to power a header past Brad Stuver for the game’s opening goal.
- 29’ The Timbers had about four chances to extend their lead in a matter of moments just before the half hour-mark, as Asprilla, Zac McGraw, and Santiago Moreno all had shots blocked inside the box following a low cross from Tuiloma.
- 30’ Asprilla again went close after being played into the box by Moreno, but snatched at his first-time shot and sent it wide of Stuver’s net.
- 41’ Diego Fagundez absolutely shredded both Claudio Bravo and Sebastian Blanco with a mazy run down the right wing, before delivering an inch-perfect cross to Sebastian Driussi, who put a header wide under pressure from Tuiloma.
- 43’ Dario Zuparic was shown a yellow card for stopping an Austin counter-attack in the middle of the field.
- 45’ Bill Tuiloma got a crucial header to a floated ball into the box from former Timber Julio Cascante to deny Alex Ring a chance in the box.
- 45+4’ Former Timber and fan-favorite Maxi Urruti sustained what looked to be a hamstring injury just before the end of the first half, and was unable to continue the match. Wishing Maxi a quick recovery and hope to see him fit again sometime soon.
At the end of a helter-skelter first half, the Timbers went into the locker room up 1-0 thanks to Tuiloma’s header.
- 57’ The first big chance of the second half came from Austin FC, who once again hit the crossbar following a corner kick this time through Driussi. After some hectic defending, Santiago Moreno was able to clear the ball from danger.
- 59’ Eryk Williamson won the ball back on the edge of the Timbers’ box, and sent a beautiful volley into space that Yimmi Chara was able to latch on to. Yimmi carried the ball forward into the box and sent a shot on goal that stung the palms of Stuver, but the chance was easily saved. On the play, Giovanni Savarese was shown a yellow for dissent after the officials didn’t allow Asprilla to re-enter the pitch after a foul required attention from the Timbers’ trainers. The caution means Savarese will miss the Timbers’ next match against Atlanta United.
- 67’ Eryk Williamson was shown a yellow card for ‘time-wasting’ on a free-kick which means he too will miss the Timbers’ match against Atlanta.
- 68’ Timbers’ athletic trainer Taichi Kitagawa became the next member of the Timbers to be cautioned, for what reason I’m not sure.
- 72’ GOAL TIMBERS, 2-0 After a shake and a shimmy and a shot from Eryk Williamson in the box, Zac McGraw tapped home his first-ever goal in MLS to extend the Timbers lead to 2-0. Stuver was able to save Williamson’s initial shot, but spilled it straight into the path of McGraw, who calmly slotted home.
- 75’ The Timbers made a double-substitution, replacing Yimmi Chara and Sebastian Blanco with Jaroslaw Niezgoda and Marvin Loria.
- 79’ GOAL AUSTIN FC, 2-1 The hosts pulled a goal back through MVP-candidate Sebastian Driussi on a snap-header in the middle of the box. Assisted by Felipe Martins.
- 81’ Marvin Loria nearly provided an immediate response to Austin’s goal with a wicked left-footed shot from distance that Stuver somehow got a hand to. From the resulting corner the ball made its way to Asprilla in the box, but his first touch forced a rushed shot that squirmed wide of the post.
- 83’ Cristhian Paredes entered the match for Eryk Williamson.
- 90+4’ Austin FC had a dangerous chance from a free-kick after referee Chris Penso called Zuparic for a foul on Driussi, but Felipe Martins sent the shot well over the bar.
- 90+5’ David Ayala entered the match for Santiago Moreno in the dying moments of the match.
The game finished 2-1 to the Timbers in what was their biggest win of the season, which seems strange to say just a few days after the team took down their most heated rivals and secured their first Cascadia Cup since 2017. But Austin FC are miles better than the Seattle Sounders, and a road win against a Supporter’s Shield chasing club is much more impressive than against a terrible Seattle team.
The Timbers return to Portland for a Sunday matinee against Atlanta United on September 4, with kickoff at Providence Park scheduled for 2:30 p.m. PST.