Timbers win home opener
The Timbers' home opener looked a lot like the team's recent road performances — with one very significant difference: They managed to hold on for a victory.
Saturday's 3-2 win over Minnesota United at a rollicking Providence Park was the first of the season and the first in MLS for first-year Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese.
Portland (1-3-2, 5 points) remained 11th in the 12-team Western Conference. But the Timbers can feel a lot better because — despite watching Minnesota (2-4-0, 6 come at them for most of the second half — this time they held onto a second-half lead.
Alvas Powell, Diego Valeri and Fanendo Adi scored the goals and Portland twice held two-goal leads.
Darwin Quintero, Minnesota's new designated player who impressed in his MLS debut, scored for Minnesota. The second goal for the visitors was put in by Portland defender Bill Tuiloma in the 81st minute, which made for a tense final 13 minutes.
"We've been working hard to achieve this result," Savarese said. "The last two games away we felt we did a good job … but the energy tonight from the fans gave us what we needed to fight all the way to the end and get the result we needed.
"It was a very good first half and then (the Timbers) never gave up and continued to work. It was a very important win for us."
Powell generated the two first-half goals.
In the 20th minute, the Jamaican right back dribbled from the center line to the 6-yard box and smashed a shot into the top of the net.
"A fantastic goal," Savarese said. "To find the space, to find the shot and to score the goal, it was, for us, what we needed. It was great to see him find the space going forward."
Three minutes later, Powell delivered a cross from near the right sideline that deflected off of a Minnesota player to Valeri near the right post for a volley home.
"I think it was deflected. I just made a run and put my foot in a way that it would go to the goal," Valeri said.
Minnesota found the back of the net two minutes later, but Miguel Ibarra's goal was wiped out by video review that showed him a step offside.
Ibarra later in the half had a header from seven yards denied on a tremendous reaction stop by Portland goalkeeper Jake Gleeson.
As has been the case this season, the Timbers were shaky with a two-goal lead.
In the 64th minute, Quintero scored his first MLS goal. Spinning away from Diego Chara, Quintero moved into the right side of the penalty area from a sharp angle for a shot that got past Zarek Valentin, Tulioma and under a diving Gleeson.
"At that angle, I can't get beat," Gleeson said.
Portland went up two again 10 minutes later on Adi's first goal of the season.
On a counterattack, Sebastian Blanco moved up the left wing and sent a cross to Valeri on the right side of the penalty area. Valeri headed the ball back toward the top of the 18-yard box, where teammate Cristhian Paredes struck a half-volley. Adi, in the center of the area, lunged to get his head to the ball.
Adi said the coaches have been emphasizing that he should stay between the goal posts when inside the box.
"I saw the ball going to Valeri and I knew probably he was going to head it back to the center," Adi said. "He headed it back to Paredes. He hit the shot, and luckily for me I was in the right position and I just hit the ball with my head."
Quintero set up the second Minnesota goal, lofting a ball out of midfield toward the penalty spot for Abu Danladi. A retreating Tuiloma got his foot on the ball before it reached Danladi, but the ball floated into his own goal.
Gleeson said he decided not to come off his line because center backs Larrys Mabiala and Tuiloma had Danladi bracketed.
"Rather than try to run through traffic and maybe not get there I decided I would just drop in and if it skips through I'll be there to get the ball," Gleeson said. "It was unfortunate. We'll look at it. What can I do better? What can we do better?"
The Timbers can do a lot better, and will need to beginning with an April 22 visit from New York City FC, a team that enters a Sunday showdown at Atlanta unbeaten and atop the Eastern Conference.