There’s no stopping the team with Major League Soccer’s best record at the moment.
Caleb Porter’s Portland Timbers moved on top of the Western Conference and Supporters’ Shield standings with an electric 4-2 victory over the Houston Dynamo at Providence Park on Saturday night.
Diego Valeri, the catalyst of almost every host streak the Timbers have been on in recent years, struck twice for goals in the 11th and 58th minutes. David Guzman’s first MLS goal turned out to be game-winning goal, and Fanendo Adi added a fourth for insurance in the 88th.
The Timbers struck first blood in the 11th minute after DaMarcus Beasley was whistled for a handball in the corner of the penalty area. Valeri took advantage of the penalty call and slotted home his third goal of the season.
Houston returned fire with an equalizer on a penalty of its own in the 38th minute. Erick “Cubo” Torres blistered a spot kick past Jake Gleeson after Diego Chara was called for a handball in the wall on a Torres free kick. The Dynamo took a one-goal advantage into the half behind Romell Quioto’s 45th-minute strike off an excellent cross-field pass from Alberth Elis.
Portland’s second-half scoring surge began in the 58th, when Adi held the ball up at the top of the box and dished a pass out to Zarek Valentin. The defender’s cross from the left wing found the head of Valeri for the Argentine’s fourth tally of the young season.
Darlington Nagbe produced a marvelous assist in the buildup to Guzman’s game-winner in the 66th minute. After Guzman collected a poor clearance, he fed Nagbe, who spiraled around a defender to return the ball to the Costa Rican, who fired his strike into the goal.
Adi danced around Tyler Deric and a few other orange shirts in the 88th minute before finishing into the bottom-left part of the net to trigger more celebrations inside an already jubilant Providence Park.
The Timbers will look to stay perfect in a week’s time at Mapfre Stadium against the Columbus Crew in one of the three MLS games being played during the international break. Houston returns to action on April 1 at BBVA Compass Stadium against the New York Red Bulls.
Man of the Match
This could go to any member of the Portland front four, but Valeri deserves the honor for placing a pair of strikes into the back of the net.
Moment of the Match
Nagbe’s brilliant pass to Guzman to set up the third Timbers goal took the wind out of Houston’s sail. Up until that point, the Dynamo were hanging around hoping that a counter would spring a third strike.
Match to Forget
The Houston center back pairing of Adolfo Machado and Leonardo did not look stable for long against the Portland attack. The Dynamo defenders left Tyler Deric hanging out to dry on too many occasions in the second half.