Timbers advance to CCL quarterfinals
The Portland Timbers' first step up the Concacaf Champions League ladder was all about their attack.
Yimmi Chara scored three goals, two in the first half, and Portland beat Honduran side Club Deportivo Marathon 5-0 on Tuesday, April 13.
Portland took the two-leg contest by a 7-2 score and advances to the quarterfinals against either Mexico City's Club America or Olimpia of Honduras. Club America leads that matchup 2-1 and will host leg two on Wednesday. The first quarterfinal leg is set for April 27, 28 or 29, with the second leg to be played May 4, 5 or 6.
Playing in front of fans at Providence Park for the first time in 13 months — the crowd was limited to 15% of capacity (about 3,800 fans, though the Timbers are not releasing attendance figures) but was plenty invested in the match — the Timbers led 2-0 at the end of a choppy first half. A pair of powerful runs from Dairon Asprilla that created Chara goals, and a series of missed opportunities from Marathon meant those fans were happy at intermission.
"They were so loud. They were so passionate. They support us through the entire match," Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese said. "They enjoyed this result as much as we did and having them back, it was phenomenal."
The second half was especially enjoyable. Diego Valeri, Chara and Marvin Loria scored and Portland settled into the game after a choppy first half that featured 16 Timbers' fouls and, with better finishing on four quality looks from the visitors, could have been different than a 2-0 Portland lead.
Marathon's speed created issues for Portland in the first half, and the fouls presented some dangerous free kicks.
"When they play their long balls, they play very direct, they try to get in behind us and they had a few times, success," Savarese said. "But we defended very well, and we capitalized on the opportunities that we had in the first half. I think the second half was completely different. I think we dominated the entire half. I think we created good chances. We moved the ball well. And overall, I think a very strong performance from the guys."
Before Portland plays the CCL quarterfinal matches, it has its first two MLS games of 2021, beginning at 7 p.m. Sunday against the Vancouver Whitecaps in a match at Sandy, Utah.
This is the first time the Timbers have advanced in a Concacaf Champions League tournament, having exited in the group stage of the 2014 and 2016 tournaments.
Charging runs up the left wing and into the penalty area by Dairon Asprilla set up both Portland goals in the first half, the first in the 18th when Asprilla dribbled from his defensive half into the attacking 18. His attempt to square the ball to Felipe Mora deflected to Valeri, who touched a pass to the open Yimmi Chara.
The second goal, in the 36th minute, had a similar buildup, with Asprillla charging past defenders and sending a cross to that Chara, making a secondary run behind Eryk Williamson, redirected home from six yards out.
The first half featured 24 fouls, 16 whistled against Portland.
The Timbers were much more under control after halftime, and any mystery about the outcome disappeared in the 67th minute when Valeri scored off of a nice give-and-go combination with new right back Josecarlos Van Rankin, who has assists in his first two games with the Timbers.
Chara, on the 10th anniversary of the Timbers signing his older brother and club icon Diego Chara, completed his hat trick with a rebound finish from a Marvin Loria shot in the 78th minute. Loria capped the scoring in the 89th, chasing down a ball over the top from Cristhian Paredes.
"This is a result of all the hard work that we did during the week. We were very satisfied. We played with a lot of order and sacrifice," Yimmi Chara said through an interpreter. "We were able to take advantage of the conditions and this leaves us very happy with our overall effort."
Savarese said the two games against Marathon should help the Timbers in their MLS opener against a Vancouver side that played only three preseason matches.
Each team could have had four goals by halftime. Chara had a goal called back for being just offside at the end of a tremendous buildup and goalkeeper Denovan Torres made a solid stop on a Felipe Mora close-range chance (off another Asprilla pass).
Marathon missed the target on three excellent first-half chances and Portland defender Dario Zuparic cleared a ball from the goalmouth after Timbers goalkeeper Steve Clark dropped a floating free kick.
The second half was much cleaner, with only four fouls whistled against the Timbers (and six on Marathon) and with Portland controlling the ball for significant stretches in the attacking third.
The Timbers took 13 shots in the second half (seven on target) and finished with a 10-2 edge in shots on goal.
Goals from Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan led the United States to a 2-0 win over France on Tuesday, April 13, in an international women's soccer friendly at Le Havre, France.
Portland Thorns Becky Sauerbrunn and Crystal Dunn played the entire match on defense for the United States. Thorns midfielder Lindsey Horan was a 63rd-minute substitute and forward Sophia Smith a 75th-minute substitute.
Also on Tuesday, Canada defeated England 2-0. Portland's Christine Sinclair was not in the lineup after suffering an injury in Canada's April 9 win over Wales.
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