By JUSTIN FERGUSON
With the league’s top team coming into town and a national television audience watching, the Portland Timbers knew that Saturday’s match was a perfect opportunity to show everyone that they are now a serious contender in the Western Conference.
And when the final whistle sounded, the Timbers and their fans celebrated a hard-fought victory and the survival of two outstanding streaks.
Portland extended its impressive home shutout streak to 450 minutes and its overall unbeaten streak to 13 matches with a 1-0 win over league leaders FC Dallas at JELD-WEN Field on a picture-perfect Saturday afternoon.
Darlington Nagbe was the offensive hero for a Timbers offense that had a hard time getting past Dallas goalkeeper Raul Fernandez. The Peruvian international matched opposite number Donovan Ricketts with seven saves, but he could do nothing about Nagbe’s 52nd-minute wonder goal.
The 23-year-old winger, who has had some of his best matches against FC Dallas, picked up a pass from Kalif Alhassan just inside the box. Nagbe quickly turned and tucked an unstoppable shot perfectly into the far corner of Fernandez’s net for the eventual match-winner.
Nagbe’s goal came after a opening 45 minutes filled with wide open offensive action. The visitors came close to breaking the deadlock deep into first half stoppage time, but Jackson’s vicious shot was stopped by a diving Ricketts.
The great play from the returning Jamaican international was preceded by one of multiple Save of the Year candidates from Fernandez. After a free header from a set piece routine was cleared off his line, Fernandez somehow kept out Diego Chara’s follow-up effort with an incredible diving stop.
Despite falling behind early in the second half, the league leaders continued to create chances on goal.
The FCD offense was without goalscorers Blas Perez and Kenny Cooper, who had to leave Portland just before the match to attend to a family emergency. The striker crisis continued for head coach Schellas Hyndman just eight minutes into the match when starter Eric Hassli was forced to come off with an injury.
Yet Dallas, who had not been shutout in league play before Saturday’s match, managed to out-shoot their hosts. Jackson seemed destined to grab an equalizer after forcing a Will Johnson turnover in the 72nd minute, but his shot whistled over the crossbar.
Ricketts made his seventh and final save of the match with 10 minutes remaining in stoppage time, keeping out a Zach Loyd effort. However, the goalkeeper’s most important play in preserving the shutout came in stoppage time. Ricketts charged and cut off an attempted through ball from Fabian Castillo that would have given Dallas an easy equalizer.
Portland (6-1-8) has a quick turnaround following this important win over the Western Conference leaders—the Timbers travel to Los Angeles to face the Galaxy on Wednesday night. Dallas (8-3-4) will return home to face Sporting Kansas City next Saturday.
Here are the match highlights:
The one thing I hate in Soccer more than bad officiating are divers. This simulation is embarrassing. I have always been proud that Portland is not one of those teams. Now it seems like we have a diver in Piiquionne. Back in my day (yes I’m old) if you got fouled you got right up so not to show you were soft. (Even when you were hurting bad). Now it’s the opposite.
kinda thinking the same thing…
the bloody nose is legitimately a reason to go down, the headbutt embalishment simply called out a known penalty. i think there are better ways to go about it – i can’t speak from experience – that still draw the same attention, let’s hope he gets a talking to. if not, the timbers army has to scratch out the “no pity” part of their scarves.
Two great performances by the goalies. Great goal! And great acting by Piquionne. Can’t wait for the cup game.
Best part of Piquionne’s “great acting” was how great the special effects were in simulating all that blood. They should definately get the gig when they make the Diving Club Dallas docudrama.
A few incredible stops by Ricketts. Portland is the model for soccer in the USA. Go Timbers.
Not to mention Caleb Porter. And to think, there were some people who seemed elated when he was knocked out with the USA youths. He is only going to get better and better as a coach, and I’m not even a Timbers fan.
IIRC, Porter spent just a couple months with the U23s in the runup to Olympic qualifying. To say he had his pick of players is technically true, but he was basically promoted too late. The part I cannot fathom is how some (many) were ready to write him off after that event.
As a fan since his first year at Akron, I think it’s awesome to see his Timbers team having success playing attractive attacking soccer in MLS. It bodes well for his future.
the U-23’s washing out of the Olympic qualifying is the best thing that ever happened to the Timbers.
Thats the truth.
Not sure how much Kenny would have helped in this match, but hope the family emergency turns out to be nothing serious.
Alhassan was a linchpin for Portland. He connected play and was involved throughout the match… He fed some beautiful balls into nagbe, valeri and chara. Nagbe drifted in and out of the match in the first half, but really had a presence in the second. Thats the type of play that will bring him to the next level.
Don’t really want to bring this up, but the match was poorly officiated. We’ve come to expect a certain standard in the mls, and some matches are worse than others, this was worse. At least the outcome wasn’t effected.
Please, bring it up! It needs to be talked about. A headbutt with not even a yellow card is a joke and half the fouls called against Portland were mostly ball with minimal contact. The Chara yellow was a joke and the missed handball was just plain stupid. MLS needs to suspend/fine officials when garbage like that happens and whoever headbutted Piquonne better get a hefty fine. That was plain, flat out terrible.
That being said, some amazing saves from both keepers and that strike from Nagbe was class. Should’ve been 3-0 with Chara’s miss and Valeri’s shot off the bar. Heck of a game.