The Portland Timbers played Los Angeles FC tough for 44 minute, but a late goal from the home side to close out the first half marked the beginning of the end for the Timbers in Sunday night’s 4-1 loss. A goal and two assists from Carlos Vela plus a red card for Diego Chara was enough to give LAFC all three points and the leave the Timbers with a clutch of questions when the night was through.
The Black and Gold had a chance to open the scoring in the 13th minute when a quick break down the field found Steven Beitashour deep on the Timbers’ left. Beitashour brought the ball down and fired a low cross into the box, finding winger Diego Rossi at the spot for a first time shot that forced Jeff Attinella into a brilliant reaction save to push the ball wide and out for a corner kick.
The Timbers’ relief was short lived, however, as the home side struck off the ensuing corner. A curled in ball from Vela found the head of youngster Mark-Anthony Kaye as he fought his way out of a bear-hug from David Guzman, jumped away from goal, and flicked a looping header inside the far post to put LA up 1-0.
After some fitful moments in the midfield, the Timbers were able to pull themselves back into the match in the 29th minute. After Diego Valeri earned a foul in the LA half, the Maestro whipped a curling free kick into the box, finding Jeremy Ebobisse free for a diving header that skipped the ball off the pitch and past LAFC keeper Tyler Miller to bring the scoreline even at 1-1.
Just as the match entered added time in the first half, LAFC struck again. Working his way across the field with the ball at his feet, Vela picked out Jordan Harvey making an overlapping run down the Timbers’ right. Receiving the ball on the side of the box, Harvey played a low cross into space between the back line and Attinella, forcing Julio Cascante to slide toward his goal and ultimately — after a touch from Cristian Ramirez — bundle the ball into his own net, giving LA their second lead of the match.
Things got worse for the Timbers in the 65th minute when substitute Latif Blessing rolled a ball toward the end line for Vela, finding the designated player on the run down the flank. With no pressure on him, Vela hit a low ball across the face of goal that Attinella laid out to block, but could only deflect slightly into the path of another LA sub, Adama Diomande, who touched the ball home into an open net.
Diomande picked up an assist as well just three minute later when he played a through ball in behind the Timbers’ back line, finding Vela in space and in on goal. With only Attinella between him and a three goal lead, Vela calmly hit a curling ball that left the Timbers keeper with no chance at a save and put the home team up 4-1.
Things went from bad to dumb in the 72nd minute when Diego Chara picked up his second yellow of the match for a truly remarkable offense: flicking the ear of Rossi directly in front of referee Jair Marrufo. The red will leave the Timbers without their midfield engine for next week’s match against FC Cincinnati, when the Eastern Conference expansion side will play their first home match in Major League Soccer.
Pressure continued to come from LA as the match wound down, but the Timbers managed to keep them from piling on further before the final whistle put them out of their misery.