Portland finished with a flourish, gaining momentum for ahead of the team’s first MLS playoff appearance with a comprehensive 5-0 win late Saturday over Chivas USA.
With the win, the Timbers claimed the Major League Soccer’s regular season Western Conference crown – and the conference’s best chance to host MLS Cup.
Diego Valeri (pictured from Saturday), apparently healthy again after recent injury struggles, led the way with two goals and an assist. More impressively, all of his good work at the StubHub Center came before the break. Valeri figured into all three goals as the visitors, pressing high and aggressively against Chivas USA, took a 3-0 lead into the break.
Timbers manager Caleb Porter elected to subtract his playmaking midfielder at intermission, saving him for the Timbers conference semifinal playoff series, which will begin on the road Saturday or Sunday. Portland will host the second leg on the following weekend.
It seems unlikely that Valeri did enough to make a compelling league MVP case; a little breeze of chatter was growing before Valeri missed time down the stretch due to an adductor strain. If Chicago gets into the playoffs, Mike Magee is probably a shoe-in for the award. Plus, Robbie Keane, Marco Di Vaio and Camilo have good cases, too. But Valeri certainly put other playoff teams on notice.
As for the club’s showy turnaround: Portland improved by six wins and 23 total points over its 2012 finish, but the most meaningful turnabout was in regular season positioning. The Timbers finished eighth last year, three spots out of the playoffs. This year, the club from the Rose City finished atop the West.
- Man City leads all-time 22W-4D-7L
- Swans winless in 11 vs. Man City
- Last Swans win: 2012 at home
Manchester City can set the Premier League record for consecutive wins in a single season when it visits Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium on Wednesday (Watch live at 2:45 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).
Each side has scored in the last eight meetings between the two in all competitions, which is about the only bit of good news for Paul Clement‘s side outside of their weekend win over West Brom. Man City has dominated the series in recent memory, and really all time.
[ MORE: Pep on post-derby celebrations ]
And some good news for Man City, too: There won’t be any problem with what they do in their own changing room.
“Like any club, Manchester City are able to play music in their dressing room,” a Swansea City spokesman said following the fracas at the Manchester Derby.
Wilfried Bony will be fired up to face his former club, and he’s coming off a big goal to sink West Brom. He’s going to have a lot in the tank. From the Manchester Evening News:
“Every game I look forward to but it is special to play against your old team. Injuries had an impact on my time at City. When you come from a club where you play every game and then you are playing maybe once a month or two games a month it is completely different.”
Vincent Kompany is out for Man City.
What they’re saying
Swansea City back Alfie Mawson on slowing Man City: “I’m very fortunate to test myself against the highest calibre of footballer there is. City are flying this season. They’ve got one of the best managers in the world. We’ve got to find a way to combat them. Every team is finding it hard and I’m sure it’s going to be a very tough game because of the quality and depth they have. We’ve got to be switched on for the entire game, as they’ll punish one lapse in concentration.”
Man City’s Kevin De Bruyne on the 11-point table lead: “Lots of teams lost points this weekend so it is a big one for us [the win] just to put more pressure on the rest. We have to enjoy it and then focus again for Wednesday. It is a big gap. If we slip up we are still in the lead. We can’t be complacent. We need to do what we have all year. I prefer to be 11 points ahead than 11 points behind that’s for sure.”
The run continues, as Paul Clement prioritizes Saturday’s trip to Everton and City cruises to a 3-0 win.
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola was the first to be asked about the post-match incident between his victorious visitors at Manchester United at Old Trafford.
United boss Jose Mourinho is alleged to have charged into the City dressing room, enraged at the volume of celebrations coming from within the visitors’ quarters.
[ MORE: Klopp responds to interview hubbub ]
What followed, again allegedly, was a brawl which included milk being thrown at Mourinho and a bloodied City assistant in the form of Mikel Arteta.
Mourinho said the incident is in the past, only offering this response to Guardiola’s assertion that the celebrations weren’t over the top. From the BBC:
“He says he says, I’m not here to comment on his words the only thing I can say is that for me was just a question of diversity. Diversity in behaviors, diversity in education, just that and nothing more.”
In other words, Mourinho thinks he’s a bit classier. That and a bag of chips gets you a bag of chips on the table.
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Pep Guardiola is staying as close-lipped as possible when it comes to the post-match derby dust-up between his Manchester City and Manchester United on Sunday.
Reports say United boss Mourinho charged into the visitors locker room to protest loud celebrations following City’s 2-1 win at Old Trafford. For his troubles, he allegedly got milk thrown at him and City assistant Mikel Arteta ended up with a cut face.
[ MORE: Klopp responds to interview hubbub ]
Guardiola said the celebrations were his idea, and he doesn’t want to say much more about United’s reactions. From Sky Sports:
“I am the guy who encouraged each other to celebrate. What happened, happened. We will make statement to the FA. I am not going to comment about that. Celebrations were’t too much.”
“Everybody fought hard to win. We could have scored more goals. After the game we celebrated with the fans and went to the changing room and celebrated the win.”
He’d only elaborate by saying, in essence, you celebrate when you win and don’t when you lose, and that other teams celebrate winning in similar rivalries in similar fashion.
Now we await Mourinho. He’s a wild card, but with legal entities involved we wouldn’t be surprised to get little to nothing.