Portland Timbers hold off Houston Dynamo
Santiago Moreno scored two minutes apart in the first half and the Portland Timbers survived going down a man in the 75th minute to earn an important 2-1 win over the Houston Dash on Wednesday in front of an announced crowd of 22,932 at Providence Park.
Timbers, 34th minute — Santiago Moreno converts a penalty after Yimmi Chara draws a foul in the penalty area. Houston defender Daniel Steres was called for going through the back of Chara as Chara tried to make a play on a cross from Sebastian Blanco.
Timbers, 36th minute — Moreno with a clinical left-footed finish from 16 yards after a quick series of one-touch passes in the left side of the area. Blanco passed to Yimmi Chara, who touched a that Eryk Williamson let run through to Moreno. 2-0 Timbers.
Dynamo, 60th minute — At the end of a crisp, four-pass counter, Darwin Quintero lofted a perfect 23-yard half-volley beyond the reach of goalkeeper Aljaz Ivacic. Timbers 2-1.
Big picture — The Timbers secured a second win in five days to jump past Houston into eighth place in the Western Conference with a record of 5-6-7 (22 points). Despite their struggles over the first half of the season, Portland is only one point back of seventh-place Seattle, though the Sounders have played two fewer games.
In terms of turning the season around, this was a significant result. It wasn't the Timbers best performance, but it might have been their grittiest. Portland survived the final 20 minutes down a man after Bill Tuiloma was shown a second yellow card. Late goals have cost the Timbers points on multiple occasions this season, and goalkeeper Aljaz Ivacic admitted that fact crossed his mind as Houston pushed for a late equalizer.
"I said, 'if they score on us, I'm going to get crazy.' Cause, I'm tired of late goals conceded. But it's a team effort and it paid off at the end," Ivacic said.
Opportunities go Timbers way — At times this season, coach Giovanni Savarese has lamented an inability to convert chances. On this night, it was Houston who felt it left chances. The Dynamo outshot the Timbers 24-11 (6-4 on goal), had a 9-5 edge in corner kicks and put 31 crosses into the box.
Seeing yellow — Second-year MLS referee Lukasz Szpala was busy, showing 10 yellow cards, six of them to Timbers players — including two to defender Bill Tuiloma who drew his second and was ejected in the 75th minute. The weird stat of the night, though, was that Diego Chara wasn't among the Timbers who went into Szpala's book. … The match was intense and at times frenetic early. Szpala tried to rein things in with some early cards, but the chippy play spilled over into the second half. Ultimately, it's up to players to adjust to the way a match is being officiated. Tuiloma's second yellow was a case of a player being more aggressive than prudent on a yellow card and paying the price.
Steve Clark's return — Steve Clark finished with two saves for Houston and didn't have a chance to stop either goal. He showed his appreciation to the Timbers fans by clapping to the Timbers Army before the first half and raising his arms and clapping to the fans at the final whistle.
Moreno's brace — Moreno scored his second and third goals of the season 97 seconds apart, the second fastest two goals from the same player in Timbers MLS history (Fanendo Adi, 86 seconds apart). Moreno showed confidence in grabbing the ball and stepping to the penalty spot for the first time as a member of the Timbers. His PK came after Sebastian Blanco converted a PK in Saturday's win over Colorado.
Moreno's second goal was a thing of beauty, with short one-touch passes from Blanco to Yimmi Chara, who laid the ball back into the path of Moreno with help from a dummy run by Eryk Williamson. Clark made a save in the 63rd minute on a Moreno shot, denying the Colombian the first hat trick in Timbers MLS history.
Mora's return — Felipe Mora played a half-hour, longer than planned because Jaroslaw Niezgoda felt some quad tightness. Mora's header off a corner kick delivered by Moreno caught the crossbar.
Ivacic big again — Of his five stops, three of them were terrific reaction plays on a free kick across the goal mouth in the 60th minute.
Van Rankin's future — The loan that returned Mexican right back Josecarlos Van Rankin to Portland for the first half of this season expires this week. Coach Giovanni Savarese said postgame: "We've been talking and conversing to try to figure out how everything's going to move forward. So we'll see how this is going to end."
Next Timbers match — Portland at Nashville, 5:30 p.m. Sunday, July 3 (FOX 12 PLUS).
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