PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Timbers got just about all they could ask for out of a two-week stretch that included four MLS games after Sunday’s 3-0 victory over the Colorado Rapids vaulted them into a tie atop the Western Conference standings with Real Salt Lake.
First-half goals by Frédéric Piquionne and Will Johnson and a late strike by Ryan Johnson, all three assisted by Rodney Wallace, were more than enough for the league’s highest-scoring offense.
The Timbers now enter a sustained break from MLS play having taken eight points in wins over Colorado and then-first-place FC Dallas and draws with Chicago and the LA Galaxy, extending their franchise-best unbeaten streak to 15 games.
The struggling Rapids have now lost three straight and fall to seventh place with 20 points from 17 games.
But before all that, the Rapids came out on their front foot, taking advantage of a sluggish start from the Timbers and nearly capitalizing with four dangerous attempts on goal in the first 11 minutes.
But the Timbers quickly awoke from their malaise in the 12th minute when Wallace broke free down the left flank off a restart and fired a cross into the box for Piquionne, whose header beat Colorado goalkeeper Clint Irwin to the top of the goal. It was the first MLS goal for Piquionne in his fifth start of the season, which also happened to be the Timbers’ 100th goal in their history as an MLS franchise.
Portland struck again right before halftime when Wallace came down with a goal kick, held the ball at the left corner of the box and found a charging Johnson. The Timbers captain took one flick to himself to get past the Colorado defense and then launched a left-footed shot past Irwin to the far corner.
The Rapids actually saw the best of the possession and outshot Portland by an overwhelming 18-6 margin. But after their opening flurry of shots, the Rapids never really threatened the Timbers goal, pressing Donovan Ricketts into just one save.
Colorado’s best chance at finding the back of the next came in the 58th minute when Deshorn Brown beat Timbers defender Ryan Miller to the left corner and sent a cross to Nick LaBrocca. But LaBrocca’s shot was cleared by Jack Jewsbury standing in front of an otherwise open net.
Portland then put the game away in the 84th minute when Johnson, who came on for Piquionne in the 60th minute, buried a Wallace cross into an open goal after a Rapids turnover high up the field.
Portland will play their eighth game in 31 days Wednesday with a US Open Cup quarterfinal match on the road against FC Dallas before returning to MLS play July 7 at Columbus. Colorado are back in action next weekend, facing Montreal on June 29.
POR - Frédéric Piquionne (Rodney Wallace, Will Johnson) 12'
POR - Will Johnson (Rodney Wallace, Frédéric Piquionne) 45'
POR - Will Johnson (Rodney Wallace, Frédéric Piquionne) 84'
Colorado Rapids lineup: Clint Irwin, Marvell Wynne, Drew Moor, German Mera, Chris Klute (Anthony Wallace 60'), Hendry Thomas (Tony Cascio 78'), Nathan Sturgis, Dillon Powers, Nick LaBrocca (Jaime Castrillon 62'), Deshorn Brown
Substitutes not used: Steward Ceus, Kevin Harbottle, Brenton Griffiths, Edson Buddle
Portland Timbers: Donovan Ricketts, Andrew Jean-Baptiste, Pa-Modou Kah, Jack Jewsbury, Ryan Miller, Will Johnson, Diego Valeri (Kalif Alhassan 84'), Diego Chara, Darlington Nagbe (Ben Zemanski 73'), Frédéric Piquionne (Ryan Johnson 60'), Rodney Wallace
Substitutes not used: Milos Kocic, Sal Zizzo, Mamadou Danso, Jose Valencia
Referee: Silviu Petrescu
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Will Johnson||Seemingly everywhere in the center of midfield, winning balls, facilitating the attack and scoring a highlight-reel goal to deal a huge blow to the Rapids before halftime|
|2||Rodney Wallace||Three assists on the day for the Costa Rican. Nothing fancy, but a smooth touch and and attacking enterprise made for a solid afternoon|
|3||Deshorn Brown||The Rapids' main instigator in attack. Will be disappointed not to have scored, but certainly made the Timbers defense work for the shutout and set up what should have been a goal for Nick LaBrocca|