PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Timbers took advantage of one of their few opportunities on the night to produce a 1-0 victory Friday over the Colorado Rapids in a crucial matchup for both teams’ playoff positioning.
It was a 13th-minute Colorado giveaway in their own half that led to a classy Diego Valeri chip over goalkeeper Clint Irwin for the game’s only goal of the night in front of an enthusiastic crowd at JELD-WEN Field.
And a somewhat disjointed Timbers side, playing with nearly all their first-choice players for the first time in more than a month, was able to hold on against a furious Rapids attack throughout the remainder of the match.
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With the victory, Portland leapfrogs not only previously third-place Colorado but the idle LA Galaxy, as well. The Timbers are now in third place in the Western Conference with 46 points from 29 games.
Colorado, which continued to experiment with their lineup with midfielders Martin Rivero and Nick LaBrocca back in the starting XI, fall to fourth with 45 points from 30 games.
The Rapids came close to the equalizer in the 62nd minute when Edson Buddle fired off a shot from the middle of the box that narrowly missed to the left. Dillon Powers also fired cleanly from the middle of the box in the 88th minute, but it went wide and the ensuing corner kick was cleaned up by Portland.
Ultimately, Portland applied just enough late pressure – firing off four shots in the final 20 minutes – to salt away the victory.
Earlier in the night, it was a choppy start for both teams.
And it cost the Rapids the game when a bad clearance by veteran Drew Moor was deflected by Timbers forward Rodney Wallace right to Valeri. And the Argentine knew just what to do with an open look at the goal, flipping a perfectly placed chip over Irwin.
Portland’s sloppiness – completing just more than 70 percent of their passes – was exemplified in the 38th minute when a bad clearance by Mamadou “Futty” Danso in front of the goal gave Buddle his own open look at the goal. But Portland breathed a sigh of relief when Buddle’s shot banged off the post. He was also whistled offside, though that ruling was not without controversy.
Portland get another shot to improve their playoff positioning next Sunday when they play host to the Galaxy. Colorado have next weekend off before returning home Oct. 5 to play host to the Seattle Sounders.
POR - Diego Valeri (Rodney Wallace) 13'
COL - Atiba Harris (caution) 3'
POR - Maximiliano Urruti (caution) 45'
POR - Kalif Alhassan (caution) 91+
Colorado Rapids lineup: Clint Irwin, Marvell Wynne, Drew Moor, Shane O'Neill, Chris Klute, Hendry Thomas, Dillon Powers, Nick LaBrocca (Jaime Castrillon 84), Martin Rivero (Gabriel Torres 55'), Atiba Harris (Deshorn Brown 72), Edson Buddle
Subs not used: Matt Pickens, German Mera, Anthony Wallace, Danny Mwanga
Portland Timbers lineup: Donovan Ricketts, Jack Jewsbury, Pa-Modou Kah, Michael Harrington, Mamadou Danso, Diego Charra, Will Johnson, Diego Valeri (Kalif Alhassan 73), Rodney Wallace, Maximiliano Urruti (Ryan Johnson 61), Darlington Nagbe (Ben Zemanski 89)
Subs not used: Milos Kocic, Sal Zizzo, José Adolfo Valencia, Andrew Jean-Baptiste
Referee: Hilario Grajeda
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Diego Chara||It always felt like the dam was about to burst for Portland. And every time the Rapids looked like they'd get there, Chara was there to clean it up.|
|2||Shane O'Neill||Monster performance from the young central defender, as he made intervention after intervention after intervention.|
|3||Diego Valeri||Keeps climbing up the MVP charts. He's put the Timbers on his back the past two months, and has them comfortably - finally - in playoff position.|