Saturday, May 1: FC Dallas 4, Timbers 1
The goals: It took less than two minutes for FC Dallas to lead as unmarked midfielder Andres Ricaurte converted a tap-in of a Ryan Hollingshead cross; the second goal came on a long ball that eluded Portland's Renzo Zambrano and led to a breakaway for Jader Obrian; the back-breaking third goal came from a corner kick in first-half stoppage time and was scored by defender Bressen, who converted a rebound chance from a corner kick.
Eryk Williamson teamed up with Diego Valeri for Portland's goal in the 62nd minute.
FC Dallas' 18-year-old Dante Sealy scored his first MLS goal on the counterattack in the 85th minute.
The skinny: Balancing the start of the MLS schedule with the opportunity to play in the Concacaf Champions League has been a challenge for all five MLS clubs in that competition. With the decisive second leg of the CCL quarterfinal against Club America coming Wednesday, May 5, at Mexico City, a heavily rotated starting XI had a tough first half against a hungry Dallas side. … That starting defensive midfielders Andy Polo and Zambrano struggled is hardly a surprise given that Polo just arrived from Peru and hasn't had much time to get into match shape or to train alongside Zambrano. Portland was the better side in the second half, when regular starters Valeri, Williamson and Dairon Asprilla entered the midfield.
It was a tough MLS debut for 19-year-old goalkeeper Hunter Sulte, though he had no chance on the first two Dallas shots and was beaten on a late breakaway for the fourth Dallas goal.
Man of the match: Eryk Williamson. In addition to his first goal of the season, Williamson's presence in the second half helped Portland make the match competitive after trailing 3-0 at halftime.
Lineup notes: At 19 years and six days, Hunter Sulte is the second youngest goalkeeper to start a MLS match. At 6-foot-7, he is the tallest keeper to play in the league and only the second native of Alaska to play in MLS. Sulte was 13 when he moved to Beaverton in March 2016 to join the Timbers Academy youth program. He is now the senior class president at Southridge High School. … Zac McGraw made his first MLS start at centerback and made it through 90 minutes despite cramping late … Diego Chara got the night off. Portland is 7-24-15 in MLS matches not started by Chara. … Polo, who arrived in Portland this week, gave the Timbers 45 minutes alongside Zambrano in the first half. … Claudio Bravo and Josecarlos Van Rankin each played a half at left back, the first time Van Rankin has appeared in a position other than right back. … Jeremy Ebobisse played the final 15 minutes, his first action since suffering an injury in preseason.
Coach Giovanni Savarese on the lineup decisions: "We have a limited roster right now. We have a lot of injuries. And our main focus is Club America."
Savarese on Sulte's debut: "When you have a chance to have an academy player play with the first team, that player already is a better player" for the experience.
Savarese on McGraw's debut: "McGraw had a phenomenal match for his first match in MLS. It was not easy because of some of the spaces that were open in the first half that he had to defend. … He endured and he gave everything that we needed."
Williamson on his goal: "Every day, me and Diego's connection's getting stronger. That's just one we're on the same page about, is combining for goals like that. We both love to see it. It's one we couldn't celebrate, but it's always good to get a goal, and the first of the year is good for confidence. Moving forward, we'll know we have plays like that to lift us."
Up next: One of the bigger matches in club history, dating to 1975. The Timbers travel to Mexico City to play Club America at 7:15 p.m. Wednesday, May 5 (FS1 television). A win over the storied club in that storied venue would advance the Timbers to the Concacaf Champions League semifinals. The teams are tied 1-1 after an intense first leg at Portland on April 28.
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