Galaxy II substitute Jose Hernandez stole the show as his 94th minute winner undid a lackluster T2 side Saturday night at Providence Park.
Los Dos were playing their third match in eight days, but started things on the front foot with an early goal from Ethan Zubak, his fourth of the season. Winger Nate Shultz whipped in a delightful ball to the poorly marked Zubak who easily nodded his header past the helpless Kendall McIntosh.
Ten minutes later, Schulz would be the catalyst again when he found himself in a good bit of space twelve yards from goal, but McIntosh was up to the challenge as he got down quickly to his right to save the low, driven shot.
T2’s first real foray into the attacking third came in the 21st minute when referee Alejandro Aguilera awarded what could charitably be called a soft penalty after an aggressive run down the right flank from Dairon Asprilla. Tomas Conechny, fresh off inking a permanent deal with the MLS Timbers, stepped up to take the kick, but his tame effort was easily saved by LA goalkeeper Eric Lopez.
Portland wouldn’t truly find their footing in the match until leveling things in the 32nd minute after Roy Miller won a fifty-fifty challenge near midfield. The ensuing ricochet played Asprilla in down the left and he was afforded ample time by the LA defense to pick his head up and stroke his attempt to the far side netting for a tidy finish from a tight angle.
T2 had several wonderful chances to take the lead in the closing stages of the first half, but it was not to be as Eryk Williamson’s chipped effort bounced just wide of Lopez’s goal and Asprilla sent his first time chance well over the bar.
The home side controlled the match for the entirety of the second half and, despite a noticeable lack of sharpness in the final third, they managed to force Lopez into a number of fine saves. The first came in the 63rd minute, when Conechny deftly controlled with his chest and unleashed a vicious side volley that was surely destined for the bottom corner, only to see Lopez palm it wide. The LA netminder was up the task yet again when Ryan Sierakowski sent a lofted ball to the far post for Foster Langsdorf who saw his close range effort snuffed out by the impeccable Lopez.
T2 continued to ramp up the pressure in the final moments of the match, desperate to pick up what would’ve been a vital three points. However, it was LA who would send the home fans home unhappy in what must be called a truly smash-and-grab style. After being played in over the top, Carlos Harvey was able to beat his man and hit a cleanly struck shot that battered off the crossbar. Any hope of Portland being saved from blushes was extinguished as the ball fell kindly to the feet of Jose Hernandez, who’s shot deflected off the outstretched leg of Bill Tuiloma and trickled over the line to hand Los Dos the most unlikely of victories.
The result sees LA climb into the playoff picture whilst sending T2 tumbling to 10th place--precipitously poised in the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Looking forward, Galaxy 2 will return home to take on league-leading Phoenix Rising, while Portland will head out on the road for a key matchup against El Paso Locomotive, with the two sides now separated by just one point.