SATURDAY MLS RECAP/Diego Valeri's 88th-minute free kick is the only goal as Portland wins at San Jose for its first road victory of the season

A match that lacked attacking verve most of the night came down to one special strike from the MVP.

Diego Valeri's swerving free kick in the 88th minute on Saturday earned the Portland Timbers their first away win of 2018, a 1-0 win at San Jose that pushed Portland into a share of sixth place in the MLS Western Conference.

On a straightaway free kick 25 yards from goal, Valeri struck a ball that curved wide of the right post and curled back inside the post, giving goalkeeper Andrew Tarbell no chance to make a save.

It was the fourth goal of the season for Valeri, last season's league Most Valuable Player.

Samuel Armenteros, a late substitute for Fanendo Adi, drew the foul as he made a quick touch with his back to goal.

With their third win in a row, the Timbers are 3-3-2 (11 points). They are tied with Houston for sixth in the West, two points out of third place.

Next is a visit from Seattle to Providence Park at 1 p.m., Sunday May 13. The Sounders (1-4-2) and San Jose (1-5-2) share last place in the West with five points.

Portland's 1.38 points per game is better than seven of the 12 conference teams.

Saturday's game at San Jose was played at a sluggish pace for long stretches — after a fast start from Portland created several near chances for the Timbers, including a Adi shot from 18 yards that caught the post.

Portland goalkeeper Jeff Attinella made four saves for his second consecutive shutout. His best were a 32nd-minute diving stop of a drive from 19 yards in front of goal by Valeri Qazaishvili and on a 54th-minute header by Danny Hoesen from a Qazaishvili free kick.

Much of the match was played outside the two 18-yard boxes as both teams appeared focused on maintaining defensive positions and making it difficult for the opponent to find quality space in the center of the field.

The only change to the Portland lineup from its win over New York City FC two weeks ago was Andy Polo returning to the left of Diego Chara, with Cristhian Paredes in the three-man defensive midfield.

Five Timbers were given yellow cards: Paredes, Chara, Larrys Mabiala, Liam Ridgewell and Polo.

Portland has played six of its eight matches on the road. The Timbers now play four of their next five at Providence Park, all against Western Conference opponents.

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