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Portland defeats Colorado 3-0 on Saturday in first home match in more than a month; Niezgoda scores twice.

PMG PHOTO: DIEGO G. DIAZ - Portland Timbers forward Jaroslaw Niezgoda lines up his shot for his first goal, giving Portland a 2-0 lead early in the second half on Saturday, June 25, at Providence Park.The Portland Timbers reached the midpoint of their Major League Soccer season Saturday with an encouraging performance that produced a 3-0 win over the Colorado Rapids in front of 23,448 at Providence Park.

Sebastian Blanco converted his first MLS penalty kick and Jaroslaw Niezgoda scored twice in the second half.


Timbers, 45+8 — Sebastian Blanco converts a penalty after Colorado goalkeeper William Yarbrough clattered into Portland's Santiago Moreno at the top of the penalty area. Video replays showed the foul occurred just inside the penalty area. Yarbrough was a split second late getting to the ball and Moreno touched the ball around the keeper the instant before the collision. Yarbrough took a hard fall and suffered an apparent head injury. Abraham Rodriguez first action was to face Blanco's PK, which Seba struck well into the left side of the goal.

Timbers, 54th minute — Jaroslaw Nizgoda ran into space behind defender Auston Trusty, chested down a lofted ball from Bill Tuiloma in his defensive third and deftly finished with his right foot.

Timbers, 62nd minute — Niezgoda scores from the doorstep after Eryk Williamson makes a strong move on the right wing and delivers a great ball across the mouth of the goal.

• Big picture — In their 17th match of the season, the Timbers won for only the fourth time. At 4-6-7, Portland is tied with Colorado with 19 points, though the Rapids have played only 16 games so the Timbers are 11th in the Western Conference, four spots (and four points) below the seventh-place playoff line.

The Timbers played a solid second half after an inconsistent first 45 minutes highlighted by both teams misplaying promising opportunities. A moment of hustle from Santiago Moreno created the nasty collision that resulted in a penalty kick converted by Blanco.

That lead seemed to help Portland's confidence, though goalkeeper Aljaz Iavcic made two big saves on a Colorado free kick chance just after halftime.

• Blanco's PK — Sebastian Blanco had not attempted a regular-season PK. Keeper Rodriguez, a 19-year-old rookie, was making his MLS debut when he stepped in to face Blanco's penalty. Blanco said Rodriguez told him it was his debut and that Blanco should tell him which side he was shooting to. "I said, 'It's my first penalty in the regular season, so we are in the same way,'" Blanco said.

PMG PHOTO: DIEGO G. DIAZ - Eryk Williamson, left, who assisted on the play, celebrates with Jaroslaw Niezgoda and Yimmi Chara after Niezgoda scored his second goal of the night to give the Timbers a 3-0 lead in their win over the Colorado Rapids on Saturday at Providence Park.• Getting well — Eryk Williamson looked like pre-injury Williamson in the second half; Niezgoda's two goals — his first at home this season — should build confidence in the striker. Claudio Bravo, while troubled a couple times by the speed of Michael Barrios, is a vital piece at right back.

Williamson's willingness to dribble forward, particularly in the second half, was noticeable as he gained confidence.

"The second half was a phenomenal second half for him. In he looked more like himself," Savarese said.

A hamstring injury forced Cristhian Paredes from the game, and for Williamson to enter without warming up. Coach Giovanni Savarese said the injury is not believed to be serious. "He said that he wasn't deep, but as soon as he felt that he wanted to be very cautious," Savarese said.

PMG PHOTO: DIEGO G. DIAZ - Portland Timbers goalkeeper Aljaz Ivacic dives to his left to save a free kick from Colorado's Diego Rubio early in the second half Saturday at Providence Park. Ivacic came up big with five saves in the shutout win.• Keeping it clean — The shutout was the fourth of the season for the Timbers, and goalkeeper Aljaz Ivacic was tested. He made five saves, four of them high-quality stops.

• Next Timbers match — Houston at Portland, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 29.

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