Timbers forward scores winning goal vs. FC Dallas

NAGBEPortland Timbers forward Darlington Nagbe, a native of Liberia, rarely has had the opportunity to play in front of his mother. She has seen him play live only a couple of times.

But she flew in from West Africa on Friday night to watch her son as the Timbers played host to FC Dallas on Saturday. She would have been perfectly happy just to see him on the field, but he gave her a memory she is likely to cherish forever.

Seven minutes into the second half, Nagbe netted the winning goal that lifted Portland over FC Dallas 1-0 at Jeld-Wen Field.

“It was a good goal. She was in town, so that made it even more special, and I’m happy we got away with the win,” Nagbe said. “She has never seen me score in person, so this is special.”

Nagbe’s goal, his fifth of the season, seemed to catch the FC Dallas defense on its heels. He received the ball on a pass from Kalif Alhassan with a defender on him. With his back to the goal, Nagbe spun to his right and kicked without looking up at the goal. FC Dallas goalkeeper Raul Fernandez either didn’t see the shot or thought it was off the mark, because he didn’t make a play on the ball as it sailed into the top-right corner of the net.

“It was a tremendous goal. He’s the type of the player who can pull off a play like that,” Portland coach Caleb Porter said. “You wish he would do it more, but he is capable of that type of goal. I’ve seen him do it plenty of times.”

The game’s only goal gave Portland a jolt of energy and increased its aggressiveness. Instead of falling back into a defensive, keep-away mode, the Timbers attacked with more fervor and had a handful of near-goals.

In the 59th minute, Portland midfielder Will Johnson found Frederic Piquionne streaking for the net on the right side. Piquionne booted a laser that clanged off the right post.

Later in the half, midfielders Diego Valeri and Diego Chara each had good looks from close range, but Valeri’s shot was knocked away by Fernandez and Chara’s attempt skipped a few feet right.

Porter acknowledged that the Timbers would have loved to score another goal and get more breathing room. They didn’t get that second goal, but because they kept the pressure on offensively, FC Dallas was very limited in its chances to secure the equalizer.

FC Dallas’ best opportunity came in the 71st minute, when midfielder Jackson stole the ball near the center line and went on a breakaway down the field. His one-on-one shot against Portland goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts was too strong and floated over the crossbar.

Ricketts collected seven saves. His most critical save came in the final seconds of first half stoppage time, when he made a diving deflection to his right on a ball that would have squeaked just inside the left post.

Portland earned three points with the victory and pulled to within two points of FC Dallas for the top spot in the MLS Western Conference.

The Timbers improved to 6-1-8 (26 points), while Dallas dropped to 8-3-4 (28). Real Salt Lake is second in the conference with an 8-5-3 record and 27 points.

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