Tonight’s match at Providence Park is as close to a must-win as you can have in May, but for the winless Portland Timbers, the night couldn’t have gotten off to a better start. After Darlington Nagbe put Diego Valeri behind the defense on the right, the Timbers got a sublimely driven cross from their playmaker, with Gastón Fernández taking advantage of Bill Hamid’s indecisiveness to put Portland up 34 seconds into D.C. United’s visit to Cascadia.
The teams would exchange goals before halftime — a long-range Davy Arnaud goal evening the scales before Futty Danso converted a corner — but the opening score will give Caleb Porter’s team a needed boost of confidence. Portland has struggled to replicate the fluidity that helped finish first in the West last season, but in the opening moments against D.C., the team looked like its 2013 self. And with Fernández’s finish, the Timbers finally found way to make work like Nagbe and Valeri’s pay off.
Going into the second half, Portland’s lead has D.C. United’s five-match unbeaten run in danger. It also has the Timbers on the brink of their first win of the season.