Fernandez, Timbers roll past Galaxy
Brian Fernandez continued his production and the Portland Timbers eased past the Los Angeles Galaxy to reach the quarterfinals of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup with a 4-0 Wednesday win in front of 16,235 fans at Providence Park.
The Timbers will go on the road to face Los Angeles FC or San Jose in the quarterfinals on July 10. San Jose and LAFC will meet Thursday in the round of 16.
Except for a few sloppy plays late that nearly led to a Galaxy goal, Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese said he liked the possession (64 percent), passing (85.5 percent), chances created and the clean sheet produced by his Timbers in just their second home match of 2019.
"It was a great performance," Savarese said. "We needed a performance like that at home. Our first win in the new stadium."
Fernandez scored one goal and contributed to two others as the Timbers dominated a Galaxy team of mostly reserves. Sebastian Blanco and Jorge Moreira also scored for Portland, which took the lead from an own goal in the 28th minute.
Portland's Steve Clark made four saves, including a big one late.
Fernandez has three goals in two Open Cup matches, and seven in five games since his mid-May arrival in Portland. His fiery on-field personality matches that of fellow Argentine Blanco.
"We need a forward to score and score and score and feel confident," Blanco said. "We need this temperment, so I've been happy to (see) him continue to score."
Fernandez made a near-post run on a Blanco free kick, and his flick header led directly to the own goal. In the 82nd minute, his pass across the top of the 18-yard box was driven home by Moreira for the fourth goal.
Fernandez's goal made the score 2-0 in the 34th minute. He poked a loose rebound over the line while off balance after the Galaxy's Dave Romney had recovered to keep out a Jeremy Ebobisse chip attempt over goalkeeper Matt Lampson.
Three minutes later, it was Blanco's turn. He took a touch around the Galaxy's Servando Carrasco and ripped a 21-yard shot from left of the arc into the right-side netting.
Blanco, who is suspended for Saturday's MLS 8 p.m. home match against Houston, also contributed to the first two goals.
First, he delivered a free kick from the left wing that Fernandez grazed with his head into the path of retreating Perry Kitchen, whose foot put the ball into the goal.
On the second goal, Blanco delivered the forward ball that sent Ebobisse in behind the defense.
Blanco said his suspension is a chance to rest a painful knee that he's been playing through since the Timbers' April 6 game at San Jose.
The Timbers' Wednesday lineup featured mostly players who have started MLS matches this season, the exceptions being Tomas Conechny in Diego Valeri's regular attacking midfield role and Claude Dielna at left center back alongside Larrys Mabiala.
"Dielna had a great match today. He showed the reason why we brought him in," Savarese said. "He was very solid. He helped to make sure we kept (a shutout). Very good performance. He's been always a professional. This was his opportunity to come, enjoy playing the 90 minutes."
Conechny's previous action had come in small sample sizes.
"We've seen moments and minutes here and there, but we decided to give him the opportunity to start today, and he played very well," Savarese said. "He had a lot of good moments. He moved the ball. He did many good things."
Valeri played the last 13 minutes, and Marco Farfan replaced Jorge Villafana at right back for the final 27 minutes. Diego Chara and Cristhian Paredes held down the midfield for Portland, with Eryk Williamson coming on late for Paredes.
The Galaxy brought a reserve-heavy squad to Providence Park, choosing to rest players ahead of a weekend trip to Cincinnati.
For the Timbers, a midweek trip to Montreal will follow Saturday's game as Wednesday's Open Cup match kicked off a stretch of four games over 12 days.
The Timbers are 17-14 all-time in U.S. Open Cup play dating to 2004.
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