MLS Snapshot: Portland Timbers 2-1 Colorado Rapids

1 Comment

PORTLAND, Ore. —

One game, 100 words (or less): Poor marking on an early corner kick allowed Deshorn Brown and the visiting Rapids to claim the early lead, an edge they’d hold through halftime.

Despite Portland controlled play coming out of the locker rooms, but it took 27 minutes for that control to pay off. After Will Johnson cut through the Colorado defense with a 72nd minute pass for Jack Jewsbury, the Portland right back was able to find Maxi Urruti near-post, setting up the equalizing goal.

Five minutes later, another Argentine snatched took full points for the home team, with Diego Valeri’s 26-yard shot into Clint Irwin’s upper-left corner giving the Timbers a 2-1 win at Providence Park.

Goals:

Portland: Urruti 72′, Valeri 77′
Colorado: Brown 16′

Three moments that mattered:

16′ – Cashing in on chaos – Left unmarked by Fanendo Adi on a corner kick, Drew Moor’s header creates chaos in front of goal – a maelstrom that eventually comes good for the Rapids. Getting his foot to a ball that barely crosses the line, Deshorn Brown sends the first assistant’s flag in the air, putting the visitors in front.

source: Getty Images
Deshorn Brown’s early goal gave Colorado a lead in Portland, but an off-the-ball injury forced Pablo Mastroeni to pull him in Friday’s first half. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

72′ – A rare glimpse of Porterball – It was the type of goal implied in the name Porterball, a moniker Portland’s head coach abhors, yet when Johnson played a perfectly timed diagonal through the right of Colorado’s defense, the movement and possession the Timbers try to leverage finally paid off. Cutting a ball back from the byline to the near post, Jewsbury found Urruti, who lifted the ball over Irwin to make it 1-1.

77′ – Valeri’s payoff – During the first half, before Portland came into the game, there was one Timber who was already clicking on all cylinders. Then again, that’s a description you could apply to almost any Timbers games this season. On Friday, Valeri took his chance to step into the spotlight, making his All-Star case with a 26-yard bomb that delivered two extra points.

Lineups:

Portland: Donovan Ricketts; Jack Jewsbury, Danny O’Rourke, Liam Ridgewell, Michael Harrington; Diego Chara, Will Johnson; Darlington Nagbe (Rodney Wallace 90′), Diego Valeri, Steve Zakuani (Gastón Fernández 61′); Fanendo Adi (Maxi Urruti 61′)
Colorado: Clint Irwin; Chris Klute, Marvell Wynne, Drew Moor, Thomas Piermayr; Dillon Serna, José Mari, Jared Watts, Dillon Powers; Dillon Serna (Kamani Hill 83′), Marlon Harrison (Gabriel Torres 65′), Carlos Alvarez; Deshorn Brown (Danny Mwanga 24′)

Three lessons going forward:

1. Portland takes itself off life support – There would have been huge symbolic meaning if Colorado came into Providence Park, converted an early corner, and held out for full points. Between the poor marking and an inability to break through an opponent’s block, the night would have checked off all the “These Are Your 2014 Timbers” tropes.

source: AP
Diego Valeri’s fourth goal of the season was Friday’s game winning, moving the Timbers up one place in the Western Conference. (Source: AP.)

Instead, Valeri’s goal allowed Portland to claim a vital win, and while there are still 14 games left in their season, another competitive race in the middle of the West makes intra-conference points all the more valuable.

2. Losing Deshorn Brown hurt – Even before his goal, Brown was causing problems for the Timbers’ defense. Whether it was running across Danny O’Rourke for an early chance or pulling Liam Ridgewell wide, the Colorado striker was his normal, attention-drawing self.

When he had to leave the game half-way through the first half, the Rapids turned to Danny Mwanga (not Gabriel Torres, who’s still unable to win more time from Pablo Mastroeni). The former top pick had a decent night, but he’s no Deshorn Brown.

Without the Jamaican’s threat up top (and without the suspended Vicente Sánchez), Colorado lost their way, putting only one shot on target in the second half. If Brown’s out of a prolonged period of time, Pablo Mastroeni will have to re-think how his team operates going forward.

3. Liam Ridgewell: So far, so good – It spoke to the depths Portland has sunk: A defender being praised for merely doing his job. That Ridgewell, after one week’s training, was able to do that could be a huge boost to the Timbers. Portland’s spent a whole season searching for someone who can do the basics in the middle

Asked about his performance post-match, head coach Caleb Porter alluded to a late match block on Dillon Powers, with Ridgewell standing his ground at the top of the box before meeting the ball. Porter explained it wasn’t glamorous but emphasized the importance of the little things. He may not have stood out, but Ridgewell was getting those little things done.

Though he’s a Designated Player, Portland only needs “decent” from its new center back for its defense to improve. Nights with 62 percent possession can do the rest.

What this leaves them:

  • With the win, the Timbers leap over Chivas USA to claim seventh in the West, leaving them two points behind fifth place.
  • Had the 1-0 held up, Colorado would have temporarily moved second. Instead they remain tied for third with the Galaxy, one point behind Real Salt Lake.

Barcelona plan Cruyff tribute at club’s training center

Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images
Leave a comment

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) One year after his death, Barcelona says it will name the future stadium at its training center after Dutch great Johan Cruyff.

The new stadium at Barcelona’s training center just outside the Catalan city will be called “Johan Cruyff Stadium” in honor of the club’s former player and coach.

Barcelona says in a statement that “the most emblematic building in the facility where future Barca players are coached is to be named after somebody who played such a central role in fostering youth talent at the club.”

Barcelona also says it will commission a “commemorative sculpture” of Cruyff, who died of lung cancer on March 24 last year at age 68. The statue will be placed at Barcelona’s main Camp Nou stadium.

Cruyff is largely credited with launching Barcelona’s era of trophy success, both as a player and a coach.

As a player, Cruyff joined Barcelona midseason in 1973 and led the middle-of-the-table team to its first national title in a decade.

He later returned as a coach and guided Barcelona to four consecutive Spanish leagues from 1991-94 and the club’s first European Cup in 1992.

“I think the tributes are very warming,” said Cruyff’s son, Jordi Cruyff. “It sort of changes the sadness that we might feel as family to lose a father, a husband and a grandfather. It changes to a certain kind of pride to understand that he left something behind.”

MLS Snapshot: Defense optional — Crew SC outlast Timbers, 3-2

AP Photo/Bryan Woolston
Leave a comment

The game in 100 words (or less): As far as teams who get out in the open field and score the lion’s share of their goals on the counter-attacking, there aren’t many MLS teams better than Columbus Crew SC and the Portland Timbers. The two sides met Saturday night at MAPFRE Stadium, site of their MLS Cup 2015 clash, and lived up to their reputations. Of the five goals scored, two were notched on flat-out counters and two more came to pass through quick transitional movements. Portland (9 points) dropped their first points of the season, falling 3-2 to goals scored by Justin Meram, Ola Kamara and Niko Hansen, while Crew SC have back-to-back wins and find themselves level on points (7) with the New York Red Bulls with each side having played four games.

[ MORE: Saturday’s MLS (afternoon) roundup ]

Three Four Five moments that mattered

4′ — Asprilla opens the scoring early on — 2017 Crew SC defending, same as 2016 Crew SC defending.

11′ — Meram fires home the rebound for 1-1 — One of Portland’s biggest weaknesses last season was their set-piece defending. Looks like not much has changed.

19′ — Higuain feeds Kamara for a 2-1 lead — The question mark that Portland will eventually have to answer is this: How much, if at all, have they improved defensively in the open field? Based on this Crew SC counter-attack, the answer might be “not much.”

45+3′ — Adi recovers to make it 2-2 — Everything Adi does these days (even the bad things, like this first touch) ends up being good.

84′ — Hansen cleans up at the back post for 3-2 — Jake Gleeson made a spectacular reaction save to deny Kamara his second goal of the game, but the rookie, making his MLS debut, was in the right place at the right time.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Men of the match: Wil Trapp

Goalscorers: Asprilla (4′), Meram (11′), Kamara (19′), Adi (45+3′), Hansen (84′)

Andorra’s 11-year, 58-game losing streak is over

Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images
Leave a comment

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Rarely has a scoreless stalemate in front of the home fans tasted so sweet.

But 11 years of nothing but losing will do that to a team.

Andorra’s 0-0 draw with fellow minnow Faroe Islands in World Cup qualifying on Saturday ended its run of 58 competitive defeats.

It was the first point in qualifying for the Pyrenees mountain principality, population 80,000, since a scoreless draw with Finland in 2005.

Faroe Islands finished with 10 men after Joan Edmundsson was booked a second time with 15 minutes to play.

World Cup qualifiers: Dutch disaster persists; Greece hold Belgium

AP Photo/Armando Franca
Leave a comment

A roundup of all of Saturday’s World Cup qualifying fixtures, as Groups A, B and H hit the halfway point in Europe…

[ MORE: USA 6-0 Honduras | Three things we learned | Player ratings ]

Bulgaria 2-0 Netherlands

Spas Delev scored both Bulgarian goals (5th and 20th minutes) to secure all three points and send Danny Blind’s Netherlands side (7 points) into fourth place in Group A, six points back of leaders France and three back of second-place (qualifying playoffs) Sweden.

17-year-old Matthijs de Ligt was handed his international debut for the Dutch; he was ultimately at fault for both of Delev’s goals; he was subbed off at halftime (as was Georginio Wijnaldum).

Luxembourg 1-3 France

Olivier Giroud scored twice (28th and 77th minutes) for France, and Antoine Griezmann added the other (37th minute – penalty kick), as Les Bleus maintained their three-point lead in Group A. Kylian Mbappe, Monaco’s 18-year-old rising star, made his international debut in the 78th minute, when he replaced Dimitri Payet.

Portugal 3-0 Hungary

Cristiano Ronaldo bagged the 69th and 70th goals of his international career (36th and 65th minutes), as Portugal (12 points) kept pace with an unbeaten Switzerland side (15 points) which managed a 1-0 victory over Latvia to keep their 100-percent record intact. Andre Silva scored the opener (32nd minute) for Portugal, the 21-year-old Porto striker’s fifth goal in six international appearances.

Belgium 1-1 Greece

Romelu Lukaku‘s 89th-minute rescued a point for Group H leaders Belgium (13 points), but it did little to mask an otherwise uninspiring performance from Roberto Martinez’s side. Kostas Mitroglu put Greece ahead in the first minute of the second half, but Panagiotis Tachtsidis saw his second yellow of the game in the 65th minute, and that was the start of Greece’s unraveling. The draw was just enough to keep Greece (11 points) in second, ahead of Bosnia-Herzegovina, whose 5-0 thrashing of Gibraltar moved them to 10 points with a superior goal differential.

Elsewhere in UEFA’s World Cup qualifying

Group A

Sweden 4-0 Belarus

Group B

Switzerland 1-0 Latvia
Andorra 0-0 Faroe Islands

Group H

Bosnia-Herzegovina 5-0 Gibraltar
Cyprus 0-0 Estonia