Timbers keep rolling
Samuel Armenteros delivered a 23-yard strike and the Portland Timbers limited the chances for one of MLS' most dangerous attack as Portland notched its fifth consecutive win on Saturday.
Cristhian Paredes also scored his first MLS goal in a riveting 2-1 win at Providence Park over Los Angeles FC.
The result improved Portland to 5-3-2 (17 points). The Timbers are third in the Western Conference. Expansion LAFC is 6-3-2 (20), second in the West.
The deciding goal came in the 81st minute as Armenteros, in his role as the Timbers' late-match attacking substitute, found space to dribble up field before delivering a 23-yard shot that beat LAFC goalkeeper Tyler Miller.
The Swedish striker celebrated by climbing onto the capo platform in front of the Timbers Army.
Armenteros, who replaced Fanendo Adi in the 75th minute to provide a different look to the attack, said he saw a defender move to cover Diego Chara, who was running to his left.
"Their central defender was after (Chara), and then I flicked it to my left and I just took off and place it hard in the far corner," Armenteros said. "To tell you the truth, I didn't even look at the ball -- I just focused on the shot. It went so fast that I just reacted, and when I saw the fans screaming I thought it was a hit."
Armenteros' goal restored a Portland lead that disappeared
in the 74th minute when Carlos Vela curved in his seventh goal of the season from just inside the 18-yard box.
Paredes opened the scoring in the 54th minute, pouncing on a rebound after Miller dove to his left to knock away a Diego Valeri free kick.
Saturday's game was much different from last week's tight win over Seattle, with both teams looking to create with quick transition and switching opportunities.
In the moments before Armenteros scored the winner, Alvas Powell had two close-range chances denied on a Timbers corner kick.
At the other end, a hard shot from LAFC's Diego Rossi was parried away by goalkeeper Jeff Attinella.
"I just saw that he caught it pretty well on the volley," Attinella said of Rossi's attempt. "I just tried to make the save and got pretty lucky that the ball ended up going where it went. Sometimes you need luck to get wins."
Portland's string of three shutouts in a row ended, but against one of the more potent attacks in the league the Timbers handled adversity when Liam Ridgewell was forced to leave five minutes into the game with a quad injury.
Julio Cascante came on and played a strong match to the left of Larrys Mabiala and to the right of left back Zarek Valentin.
"We all know that anyone who steps onto the field is going to do a good job because we're working together. We have the right mentality," Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese said. "We all care about each other, and that's the most important part. That's why he did so well coming in, because he had the confidence to be able to do the job."
Valentin and Antinella said they were not surprised to see Cascante play with confidence and composure. Valentin noted he played alongside Cascante on the right side of the defense during preseason.
"Credit to Julio. He's been the ultimate professional," Valentin said. "I told him, whenever you get your moment you're going to take it and you're going to shine. Today, he came in and did not miss a beat."
The Timbers' best chance of the first half came early when Fanendo Adi was free behind the defense and sent his left-footed shot off the crossbar.
Portland created a few more promising chances off transition — and was credited with eight first-half chances — but none resulted in clean looks.
LAFC created several dangerous chances. Latif Blessing missed an open net from a tough angle after taking a touch around Attinella, who had come off his line to try to cut off an entry pass.
In first-half stoppage time, Portland blocked shots from inside the penalty area from Diego Rossi and Dejan Jakovic after Attinella came out to punch away a ball and only made partial contact.
Savarese called the win another positive step.
"Extremely proud of how they worked so hard to make sure we didn't allow (LAFC) to create too many things," Savarese said. "It's a good (LAFC) team, a difficult team. Our guys did a fantastic job to make sure we forced them where we wanted to, and we handled the better players in a good way. When we had the chance of having the ball, we created a lot of opportunities and were dangerous offensively. I'm very pleased, very happy with the performance."
Next for the Timbers is a road game at 6 PT Saturday at Colorado.
Portland returns to Providence Park for home matches against the LA Galaxy on June 2 and Sporting Kansas City on June 9.