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Timbers thrash Chivas USA to push unbeaten streak to nine

DiegoValeri2 (getty)


PORTLAND, Ore.- One team came into Sunday’s match on a franchise-long unbeaten streak, while the other came in reeling. And after 90 minutes of play, it was easy to see which team was ascending and which finds itself in the conference basement.

The Portland Timbers dominated Chivas USA on their way to a 3-0 victory, in front of a sellout Mother’s Day crowd at Jeld-Wen Field. Rodney Wallace, Diego Valeri and Will Johnson scored the goals, while Donovan Ricketts earned his fourth-straight home shutout for Portland.

Chivas USA (3-5-2, 11 points) continued to showcase their 3-4-3 formation, but it was no match for Portland’s style of high pressure and crisp passing. Caleb Porter’s side has now gone nine straight matches without a defeat.

“It’s another positive step in the right direction. We continue to be on a very good path toward our ultimate goal,” Porter said. “The reason we’ve been on a nine-game run without losing is because we’ve stayed humble & hungry. We don’t get complacent or overconfident.”

After controlling play in the first half, the Timbers (4-1-6, 18 points) breakthrough came when Wallace put the team ahead 34 minutes in. The play started when Ricketts threw a 30-yard outlet pass to Valeri and ended when Wallace chipped Chivas goalkeeper Patrick McLain.

McLain, who was making his first MLS start with Dan Kennedy suspended for the match, had four saves but could do little against the three Portland goals.

Wallace also had a part in the second goal, when his nifty pass combined with a failed offside trap, left Diego Valeri one-on-one with McLain. The Argentine DP left no doubt and knotted his fourth goal of the season. In his last four matches, Wallace has two goals and two assists.

“Rodney Wallace is having a breakout year. I’m not sure why he hasn’t had a breakout year up to this point,” Porter said. “I think clearly he’s one of the better wingers in the league, and he’s really flourishing.”

The Costa Rican International is playing his best soccer since coming into the MLS in 2009 as a first-round pick of DC United. His three goals this season already tie his career-high, which he set in the rookie season. Despite his recent success, Wallace deflected credit to his team.

“We have good chemistry, we’re on form right now. The thing about this group is we like winning and it shows on the field,” Wallace said. “We are well connected. Every guy out there is giving their all.”

While Wallace had a part in the first two goals, it was Will Johnson who completed the win with a stoppage-time goal that saw his curling shot go around a diving McLain. The goal was a cap to the impressive effort put forward by Johnson and his partner in the central midfield, Diego Chara. While Chara failed to get on the scoresheet, his play on both ends of the field was a important part to his club’s victory.

The Timbers controlled the possession throughout the match, completing 443 passes to Chivas USA’s 305. Porter, however, cared little about his team’s possession advantage.

“I couldn’t care less how much possession we have. I want to go to goal and get goals,” Porter said. “We’re not just going to be a possession team to a fault. We’re not going to die of beauty. We’re going to win games, that’s it.”

After a good start to the season, Chivas USA now finds itself at the bottom of the Western Conference standings and has lost the last two matches by a combined score of 7-0. And the Goats will be shorthanded heading into their next match due to Mario de Luna collecting a yellow card late in the match.

While the Mexican defender will be suspended due to yellow card accumulation, he might be hearing from the MLS offices as he made contact with a ball boy while trying to get a quick restart on a throw-in. While de Luna did not seem to apologize to the boy, Chivas USA head coach Jose Luis Sanchez Sola did approach him to make sure he was all right.

The shutout continued an impressive run of play for Ricketts and the Timbers defense. But unlike previous matches, Ricketts was not forced to bail out his backline at any time during the match and made three saves, all-of-which were right at the Jamaican International.

“I like nights like this when I do nothing and still get the clean sheet,” Ricketts said.

The Timbers might be in the midst of a franchise-record run, but Porter isn’t completely satisfied yet.

“We’re not where we want to be yet, which is what makes it scary. We can be even better,” Porter said.

Next up for last-place Chivas USA is a road match with Real Salt Lake on Sunday.  Portland now embarks on a three-game road trip that begins Saturday against Cascadian rival Vancouver Whitecaps.


    • Hard to disagree with that. Impresses the heck out of me that Porter took the plunge into the pro game after the Olympic disaster and appears to be have bounced back quite strongly. Makes me wonder about Shane’s comment above, about Klinsmann holding the first U23 camp in Germany when Porter could not be there. Interesting.

      • Wasn’t Porter who opted not to go. He made it sound like his commitments to Akron were greater than U23. Other players got time off for their club to attend. At least he could have done the same. However, I am also one of those guys impressed with what he has accomplished.

  1. LOL … relax fellas. It’s not like my idea was a novel thought. The VAST majority of leagues around the globe have some sort of restriction on foreign players whether it be game day roster or overall registered players with the club. Some countries are clearly more strict than others.

    • well MLS has rules for a required number of domestic players; it just doesnt apply to the game day roster. Is there any league in the world that does extend those requirements to the game day roster?

      • Yes … Brazil is one … probably one of the strictest … no team can have more than three foreign players on the field or on the bench in a single match.

      • Then everyone realizes that Brasil hasn’t won the World Cup since 2002 and basically its entire first (and second) team benefits from playing in leagues outside of Brasil. Yes, it’ll increase the amount of domestic players playing, but not necessarily the quality.

    • Also MLS’s domestic player rules give an advantage to US players over Canadian players. A US player counts as a domestic player for Canadian teams, but a Canadian counts as a foreign player for a US team.

  2. To further my previous post …

    Only 2 Americans started for Portland yesterday. To me, that is a crime in the sense that if we really want the US player base to get better, there must be a league wide policy of fielding a certain # of Americans.

    • This is absurd. The MLS is not going to continue growing if it begins pandering to American players. The best players should play, regardless of nationality.

    • I consider Darlington Nagbe American. He’s lived here since he was 10 years old so most of his development was within the US system. He’s married to an American and will surely soon have his US citizenship. Will Johnson said in an interview that his biggest soccer influence was the time he played youth ball in Chicago.

      Also, remember that the coach responsible for the exciting play we see on the pitch is entirely American. MLS should also be about developing and showcasing American coaching – then maybe we wont have as many young American prospects think they have to play abroad to develop their game.

      • Same with Rodney Wallace. Dude is basically from Maryland. Will Johnson is Canadian, and Canada is surely apart of MLS as much as America is.

    • This is a myopic view, and the MLS needs quality, not Amerikun kick ball to advance in stature.
      Shane’s post is dead on

    • There’s clearly only one solution to this. Invade and annex Canada so we can put Will Johnson and his flapping head in the American column.

    • Perhaps things would’ve been helped if Klinsmann hadnt required the first U23 camp to be held in Germany when Porter couldnt be there.

      • He lost the game due to horrible starting XIs, terrible substitutions, and an over reliance on players from Akron. The team was cohesive.

    • Same here. Porter seems extremely intelligent about the game and it appears that his players believe in and work hard for him.

    • I seem to recall that that crap college coach Porter won an NCAA title and he has sent a number of players to the pros. Not surprised by Chivas. Their management doesn’t seem to have a clue.

      • the sarcasm could’ve been expressed a little better. Gary, I’m as big of a Caleb Porter fan as you’ll find. Just giving a jab to all those who predicted he would fail because they look down on the college game.

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