Wednesday, June 23: Timbers 2, Dynamo 2
The goals: Fafa Picault converted off a rebound chance on a play that started from a corner kick (1-0 Dynamo, 15th minute).
Tyler Pasher scored from 16 yards in front of goal after Houston's pressure forced a Timbers giveaway on the wing (2-0 Dynamo, 33rd minute).
Dairon Asprilla with a beautiful chip over goalkeeper Marko Maric at the end of a play that started with a Houston corner kick. Asprilla made a big run with the ball out of the defensive third and Claudio Bravo supported him with a perfect return pass (2-1 Houston, 50th minute).
Jeremy Ebobisse converted a strong header from six yards on a cross from center back Larrys Mabiala, who delivered a perfect cross from near the right touchline (2-2, 90+1 minute).
What it means: Portland is 4-4-1 (13 points). The Timbers have come from behind in consecutive games after losing the first four times this season it fell behind. Houston is 3-3-4 (13 points).
The skinny: Portland has never won at Houston, but this result will feel like a victory. After struggling to execute a new formation for much of the first half, the Timbers gained some momentum from a Eryk Williamson shot off the crossbar and began carrying the play.
The insertion of Diego Valeri at halftime, earlier than planned, helped Portland keep possession in the attacking half, something that was a struggle in the 5-2-3 formation Portland opened with (in part, according to coach Giovanni Savarese, because he had more defenders than attackers available to play 90 minutes).
Asprilla's goal — his career-high third of the regular season, already — was a picture of effort and technical beauty. He burst out of his defensive position on a Houston corner kick and dribbled at speed into the attacking third, He and Bravo then executed a great exchange and, finally, Asprilla chipped the ball over the keeper and just inside the far post.
That goal significantly changed momentum.
With a heavily rotated lineup and playing a new formation, the Timbers were slow to warm to the task in hot and humid Texas. Goalkeeper Aljaz Ivacic, in his first start of 2021, misplayed a corner kick on Houston's first goal. The lack of decisive movement with and without the ball led to the second Dynamo goal, but once Portland became more proactive, the game turned.
Lineup notes: Sebastian Blanco played 17 minutes off the bench but was replaced late by Blake Bodily. Savarese said Blanco "felt a little bit of something in the muscle. … it was more prevention-oriented than anything else."
Marvin Loria, who was replaced by Valeri at halftime, experienced some dizziness after a clash of heads initiated by Houston defender Adam Lundkvist trying to challenge for a ball.
Giovanni Savarese: "We played very well in the second half. The conditions were tough, as always here. Very hot. Very humid. Against a (Houston) team that works very hard."
Savarese on the tying goal: "The quality of the cross that Mabiala put in was of top level. The way he went forward, got into the space … and from a tough angle put that cross in, and then a great header (from Ebobisse) … a wonderful goal at a very important moment for him and for us."
Up next: Portland plays host to Minnesota United at 8 p.m. Saturday, June 26 (ROOT Sports TV).
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