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.
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.
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.
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.
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.