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WEDNESDAY MLS RECAP/Portland leaves many starters at home, falls 2-1 at Montreal

Playing with a heavily-rotated lineup, the Portland Timbers dropped 2-1 match at on Wednesday at Montreal.

Tomas Conechny scored his first MLS goal for Portland, which falls to 5-8-2 (17 points).

The good news for the Timbers, who remain 11th in the Western Conference, is they play 15 of their 19 remaining matches at home — beginning with an 8 p.m. Sunday match at Providence Park against FC Dallas.

Orji Okwonkwo scored both goals for Montreal, which improved to 9-7-3 (30 points). The Impact have played the most games in MLS and are second in the Eastern Conference on points.

The Timbers lineup featured young players, many of whom have featured mostly for Timbers 2. The only field player in the starting lineup with significant MLS minutes was midfielder Cristhian Paredes.

Portland coach Giovanni Savarese said leaving starters, including Diego Valeri, Diego Chara, Sebastian Blanco and Brian Fernandez, at home was necessary given the busy schedule.

"We couldn't play four matches in two weeks, especially traveling to Montreal. So now we're ready to be able to be able to play this coming weekend," Savarese said.

The Timbers took only 16 players on the trip. Portland started a back four of Marco Farfan, Claude Dielna, Julio Cascante and Modou Jadama; Paredes and Renzo Zambrano were at holding midfield, Eryk Williamson in attacking central midfield flanked by Conechny and Marvin Loria with Dairon Asprilla up top.

Lucas Melano, Jeremy Ebobisse and Foster Langsdorf came off the bench as Portland chased a late equalizer. But the Timbers struggled to possess the ball and didn't threaten the goal after Okwonkwo scored a quality goal in the 66th minute to give Montreal the lead.

Conechny tied the match 1-1 in the 53rd minute.

Loria looped a free kick into the penalty area. Cascante got inside his mark and headed the ball across the 6-yard box when Conechny connected.

Portland had two chances to take the lead, but Williamson mis-hit a high-quality opportunity on the counter and Asprilla mis-hit a shot instead of finding an open Williamson on another opportunity.

Okwonkwo, a 21-year-old Nigerian scored in the 28th minute, getting behind the defense after a turnover of possession in midfield.

His winner came when he collected the ball with his back to goal sna surprised the defense with a quick spinning shot that glanced off of Cascante and gave goalkeeper Jeff Attinella no chance.

Attinlla made three saves and Montreal keeper Even Bush two saves as the Impact outshot the Timbers 13-7 (4-3 on goal). Former Timber Maxi Urruti took two shots, one on goal.

Montreal played a strong lineup, though the Impact are missing several players to international duty and star midfielder Ignacio Piatti to injury.

The match at Stade Saputo in Montreal was delayed about 40 minutes because of lightning. Announced attendance was 15,167.


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