After securing a 1-0 win against Sporting Kansas City on opening weekend, the Portland Timbers (1-0-0) looked to play party crashers as they traveled to California to take on defending champions LAFC (0-0-0) in what was their first match of the season.
The Timbers cleared both Claudio Bravo and Aljaz Ivacic to return to play, both of whom were injured for the season opener, but Yimmi Chara’s hamstring injury against SKC added to an already lengthy injury list.
This week's Injury Report presented by Sports Medicine of Oregon #RCTID pic.twitter.com/wTp58VubtQ— Portland Timbers (@TimbersFC) March 3, 2023
Despite being cleared to play head coach Giovanni Savarese opted to start the same left back, Justin Rasmussen, and the same goalkeeper, David Bingham, as he did matchweek one. Santiago Moreno replaced the injured Yimmi Chara in the starting lineup.
That Timbers XI— Portland Timbers (@TimbersFC) March 4, 2023
▪️ Santi returns
▪️ Bingham between the sticks
▪️ Jaro leads the line #RCTID pic.twitter.com/UQpGHnUYRy
After a lengthy championship banner raising and ring ceremony the defending champions came out and, well, played like the defending champions, scoring two goals unanswered through the opening 45 minutes.
Long-time Italy and Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini opened the scoring for LAFC in the 24th minute with a side-footed shot following a scramble in the box, and Carlos Vela doubled the lead from the penalty spot after a foul from Moreno in the box.
LAFC would extend their lead further through Kwadwo Opoku in the 53rd minute following a giveaway from Diego Chara in midfield, but the Timbers newest talisman Evander was able to pull a goal back in the 62nd minute due to some great counter-attacking work from Juan Mosquera and Cristhian Paredes.
Second-half substitute Cristhian Paredes scored in the 82nd minute to make the end of the match interesting, but in the end LAFC’s dominant start to the match was too much for the Timbers to overcome, leaving BMO Stadium with a 3-2 defeat to take back to Portland.
1’ The Timbers get the game underway, and within seconds, Diego Chara landed awkwardly on his chest and needed medical assistance.
4’ LAFC gave the Timbers an early warning shot in the opening minutes of the game, as Bouanga curled a right-footed strike just past a helpless Bingham’s outstretched arm.
10’ LAFC countered after a giveaway from Niezgoda further up the field, cutting through the Timbers’ defense with relative ease, before testing Bingham’s reflexes with a hard, low cross. Bingham parried the cross, and the rebound was blocked and cleared to safety.
24’ GOAL LAFC, 1-0 The hosts would take the lead in the 24th minute through Giorgio Chiellini after the Timbers failed to clear a dangerous cross into the box, allowing the 38-year-old centerback to tap the ball into the net from close range.
30’ LAFC thought they had doubled their lead six minutes later, putting the ball past Bingham off of another corner. Thankfully for the Timbers referee Joseph Dickerson adjudged there to be a foul on the play and reversed the goal.
34’ GOAL LAFC, 2-0 Things would eventually go from bad to worse for Portland after a reckless foul from Santiago Moreno on Kwadwo Opoku in the box resulted in a penalty for LAFC. Carlos Vela stepped up and calmly slotted the ball into the net.
41’ Yellow Card McGraw received the game’s first caution just before halftime for a strong, late challenge on Denis Bouanga.
45’ Nine minutes of stoppage time were added to the end of the first half after lengthy treatments for both Diego Chara and Denis Bouanga.
45 + 1’ Yellow Card Illie Sanchez was given a yellow card for an intentional handball in the middle of the field.
45 + 5’ Marvin Loria had a glorious chance to pull a goal back in first-half stoppage time, getting his head to a right-footed cross from Justin Rasmussen inside the six-yard box. John McCarthy was able to stay big, and block the close-range header.
HALFTIME: LAFC 2 - 0 Timbers
48’ Carlos Vela kissed a wicked free-kick off the outside of the left-hand post, inches away from making the score 3-0.
53’ GOAL LAFC, 3-0 Chara was disposessed in midfield, which led to a 4 v 3 counterattack for LAFC spearheaded by Carlos Vela. Vela found Opoku in the box, and the striker slammed the ball past Bingham to put the game out of the Timbers’ reach.
60’ With the result all but put to bed Savarese opted to make a triple substitution, bringing Bravo, Larrys Mabiala, and Cristhian Paredes into the match for Loria, Moreno, and Rasmussen.
62’ GOAL TIMBERS, 3-1 Evander opened his Timbers account with an excellent strike from the edge of the box just after the hour mark! Mosquera drove the ball forward over half the length of the pitch, passed the ball to the left wing, and the Timbers’ club-record signing swept the ball into the net after a clever step-over from Paredes.
Off the mark in @MLS @OficialEvander x #RCTID pic.twitter.com/gfELi4C43b— Portland Timbers (@TimbersFC) March 4, 2023
71’ Yellow Card Juan Mosquera received a delayed yellow card for a foul.
72’ Nathan replaced Jaroslaw Niezgoda after another disappointing performance from the Timbers’ starting striker.
84’ GOAL TIMBERS, 3-2 Cristhian Paredes made things interesting with six minutes to go in the game, scoring after a wild sequence in the box that involved a Mosquera strike and Nathan bicycle kick.
84’ | Game ON‼️— Portland Timbers (@TimbersFC) March 4, 2023
Paredes bundles it home
2-3 ⚫️ x #RCTID pic.twitter.com/t8zA02NCBq
90’ Four minutes of stoppage time were added at the end of the second half.
90+1’ Yellow Card Nathan was shown a yellow card for a 50/50 challenge in midfield, Diego Gutierrez also entered the match for Mosquera.
FULL TIME: LAFC 3 - 2 Timbers
The Timbers will return to action at Providence Park against MLS newcomers St. Louis City SC, with kickoff scheduled for 7:30 p.m. next Saturday, March 11.