Fernandez scores again, Timbers win again
Brian Fernandez set a MLS record by scoring in his fifth game in a row as a newcomer and the Portland Timbers survived more than a few close calls to beat FC Dallas 1-0 on Sunday at Providence Park.
At 6-8-2 (20 points) Portland is ninth in the 12-team Western Conference, but a second consecutive home shutout win and the continued brilliance of Fernandez means growing confidence for the Timbers.
FC Dallas pushed hard for a goal over the final 20 minutes, but left Portland in fourth place at 7-7-5 (26).
It was another well-executed counterattack that netted the goal just before halftime.
The Timbers won position deep on their defensive left side and sprung out with Diego Valeri finding Sebastian Blanco on the right wing.
Blanco sent a low drive to the top of the 18-yard box. Both Jorge Moreira and Diego Chara let the ball go, and Fernandez struck in full stride. His shot glanced off defender Matt Hedges and into the goal for his sixth goal in five MLS games — and ninth in seven games, including the U.S. Open Cup.
Portland carried that momentum into the second half and nearly doubled the lead a couple of times in the first 10 minutes after halftime, the best of those a close-range shot for Jeremy Ebobisse on a Sebastian Blanco cross that slid just wide of the post.
But Dallas found its footing and had two chances in the 55th minute. In the 75th minute, Dallas had three good looks. The best of those fell to Jesus Ferreira, who was off balance just enough to miss wide from six yards in front of the goal.
Portland goalkeeper Steve Clark was credited with two saves, but he also made a couple of key plays to cut off potentially dangerous passes
The Dallas push was helped by the insertion of two designated players, Bryan Acosta came on in the 56th minute, and Santiago Mosquera entered in the 70th. The visitors had four homegrown players in the starting lineup, and for much of the game were disciplined on and off the ball.
Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese said his team gutted out the win as fatigue built through the second half.
"We did a good job starting the second half, pressuring every ball, winning every ball, controlling the ball, creating opportunities. At some point, the guys paid for that pressure and not finding the second goal," Savarese said. "They were difficult the last few minutes of the game. But credit to the guys. They performed well. We were compact (defensively) toward the end."
Center back Larrys Mabiala chalked up the second home shutout to growing confidence.
"When you get this mentality of not conceding goals, it's like scoring goals. Sometimes like on Brian's goal he just shoots and it deflects and goes in. When you're playing this way, defending well, sometimes you're going to have this bit of luck that lets you keep the shutout."
Portland will try to keep the momentum going on a visit to Yankee Stadium for a game against New York City FC next Sunday (3:30 p.m. PT). That match kicks off a stretch of five over 15 days, with three of those on the road — including the U.S. Open Cup game on July 10 at Los Angeles FC.
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