By MIKE DONOVAN
Portland headed into Saturday night’s matchup with Chivas USA, knowing a victory would clinch the top seed in the Western Conference. And the Timbers decided not to leave it to the last minute to seal their fate.
Diego Valeri notched two first-half goals and added an assist as Portland blew out the cellar-dwelling Chivas USA, 5-0, Saturday night at the StubHub Center. Rodney Wallace, Ryan Johnson, and Will Johnson chipped in goals as Portland finished the 2013 regular season with conference-best 57 points.
The first 45 minutes saw Valeri play the maestro as he put the Timbers ahead with a well-placed shot just 18 minutes into the match. Ten minutes later, Valeri masterfully chipped goalkeeper Tim Melia and the rout was on for Portland.
The Timbers finished the half in style when Valeri set up Rodney Wallace for the team’s third goal of the first 45 minutes. Subbed out at the halftime intermission, the Argentine Designated Player finished the regular season with ten goals and 13 assists. Valeri is the second player in MLS history to notch double-digit tallies in both assists and goals in his first season in league, joining Preki who turned the trick in the league’s inaugural season.
Despite Valeri coming off at the half, Portland was not finished with their onslaught as high pressure led to two second-half goals. The first saw a Ryan Johnson tap-in after Melia denied a Wallace effort and the second was a Will Johnson free kick that the captain had earned after being felled by Carlos Borja just outside the penalty area.
All-in-all, the performance was a comprehensive way to send Portland into the MLS postseason for the first time. Donovan Ricketts had four saves on the night and ran his season-total to a league-leading 14. The Timbers will enter the playoffs on an eight-match unbeaten streak, having conceded just three goals in that time.
While Portland is ascending into the playoffs, Chivas USA tanked at the end of the season, losing their final five matches by a score of 18-3. Head coach Jose Luis Real was so unimpressed with Goats play early in the match that he used all three of his available substitutions in the first half, despite no player being injured.
The Timbers will return to action next weekend to take on the winner of the Western Conference’s play-in match.
As many have said before, including Bruce Arena, Portland has a decided home field advantage. They refuse to install grass and thus win all their minor-league-style roller-ball home matches. It’s great. They win. They won the league. Is it soccer? Is it beautiful? I say No.
Sour grapes are sour.
Pretty sure it’s not possible to grow grass at Jeld-Wen, especially with college football being played there as well.
Either way, enjoy the sour grapes.
Don’t think the league and/or Timbers are quite there budget wise, but grass could be grown there. There are beautiful fields spread through the north of England and Scotland and new technology in natural turf being developed all the time. Having a football team play on the same field is a shame/most certainly an issue.
But….. this is not a story about turf…. it is about Portland winning the West. Particularly in light of where they have come from in such a short time, trying to diminish that accomplishment by bringing up artificial turf is ludicrous. Excellent coaching, team chemistry, supporters and team play have EVERYTHING to do with it. I’m a Galaxy fan not a Timbers fan, but most of all, love the game and am thrilled with how far IT has come in this country. In that light, it is hard not to admire and root for Porter and this team.
Yep, you are right. Nothing millions and millions of dollars couldn’t solve.
What a dumb comment. The Timbers are always mentioned as playing some of the most attractive soccer in the league, both home and away.
There are lots of turf fields in the league. All team should know how to play on them by now.
Aren’t there just 4? (Cascadia 3 + NE?)
Not a bad try by Fat Albert…sure it was a Steven Lenhardt of whining troll posts, but he disguised it to pretend it was a soccer post.
By him ruling on whether one of the best team in MLS actually play soccer, he attempts to come across as a soccer genius….in the end though he is just another guy whining about soccer in the US.
All credit to Portland for rising to the top of what has turned out to be such a tough conference this year in particular.
That said, maybe I’m just pessimistic but if I were a supporter of theirs, I would now be starting to worry that their timing may be just a little off and that they may have hit their peak a little too soon to cap off this year with an MLS Cup win.
Time will tell, of course.
What the what? Going eight games unbeaten with five wins and a 5-0 drubbing in their final regular season match; how is that anything shy of perfectly ideal? Anything can happen in the playoffs, sure, but Portland could not ask for a better position going in.
Well I think you’re underscoring my point.
But again, I’m just wondering about that possibility.
No, I’m not underscoring your point. Portland is firing on all cylinders right now. That is the best a team can ask for. Had they gone a good run a month ago, and then sputtered out in the last couple weeks, then you’d have a point (See Seattle).
Seattle peaked too soon and fell off their high to walk into the playoffs on a 0-4-2 (plus whatever happens today) run. If the TImbers miss the MLS cup it will be because they get outplayed, not because they peaked too soon.
Correct, either Portland will get outplayed or lay an egg, – but Seattle had a good thing going then dropped a Deuce in the middle. They’re back to the dysfunctional chemistry that plaqued them at the beginning of the season.
Yes well you say to-may-to…
I’m not sure if “turning a trick” was the right use of language for a soccer article.
Perfectly normal in Holland.
Chivas really is a disgrace both on & off the field.They are an argument for relegation if ever there was one.
its hard to believe mix diskerud rejected playing for this team. hind sight is easy, but he must be a little sad that he made that mistake.
He rejected playing for the MLS. He wanted to play in Portland but the Don screwed it up.
Diskerud’s deal was that the wanted to sign a contact with Portland and not with MLS. He didn’t want what happened to Urruti (traded two weeks in) to happen to him. Can’t say I can blame him for it, but I can blame the MLS front office.
This Sounder fan congratulates the Timbers. I admittedly root for them when it doesn’t include Seattle and really have no use for punks like Wil Johnson, Diego Chara and (whatever his name is) Kah, Bah(?). Before any of you mention Alonso, just ask yourself who leads MLS in red cards. Let me help, that’d be Seattle. Portland easily could have had some vs Seattle alone. I’m just disgusted at how horribly bad the Sounders have been for the last 2 months…..But still rooting for a win vs the Gals!!!!!
In his short stint, Deuce has proved to be a bigger thug than any of the players you named. Throwing elbows, berating officials, kicking at players when the ball is gone. Total class act.
Caleb Porter was a former MLS player. A short career. He was also a coach at Akron. All said he has got to be one of the best young coaches in MLS. Not having as many honors as Arena, but given his start in his coaching career and the same time Arena, when he started his coaching career, Porter is a much more advanced coach.
I remember way back before the season began. I said I will keep an eye on Portland. I like what Porter is doing to this team. Now near the end of the season I can confirm I was on to something and I was right. I had no idea they would win the Western Conference, but playoffs for sure. They still need that edge of a international class forward and international class playmaker in midfield and this team can dominate the whole league for next year. I hope the Galaxy beat the Timbers since I am a Galaxy fan. Speaking of which I hope Arena goes to Seattle. Have no idea where that came from, but the Galaxy are ripe for a progressive type of coach a little more innovative and creative system wise.
Getting a top notch forward and/or midfield player, would ensure that the Timbers wouldn’t get all those many low-score ties they had this year and thus hosting the MLS Championship in 2014.
I don’t know if you missed it, but an international player had a brace and an assist in the 45 minutes he played yesterday for the Timbers. They already have that playmaker.
In fact, Diego Valeri is the first player since 1996 to have double digit goals and assists in his first season in MLS. He is exceptional!
Yes, he is a very talented soccer player but let’s see how much he helps the TIMBERS in the MLS play-offs when the pressure is really on.
Valeri is your midfielder. I agree though that there’s room for improvement at striker. We could also use at least one more really strong outside back.
Bob Bradley will be the next new coach in Seattle but what if they try to get ex bayern Munich coach.
By the way, why do people wanna schelloto coach in MLS, like if he’s a genius. MLS needs new blood from players to coaches, yallop sucks, marcsh sucks, sigi sucks, arena is getting there. MLS teams need to bring in new tactics, ideas, formations, skills, if u bring a Latino coach, he needs to know English, that’s the bad part but mostly European coaches know English , unless u get a translator.
Imagine bielsa in Seattle or some other famous Latino coach.
And what does your coaching carousel conspiracy have to do with the Timbers?
give the timbers some cred… you’re always going on about seattle
Congratulations TIMBERS for a tremendous season & accomplishments, including
1. Getting a very successful & new MSL coach Caleb Porter and at least a half dozen new and very talented players,
2. Playing very entertaining, creative and in-control soccer,
3. Using a super talented midfield for both offensive and defensive purposes,
4. Applying maximum defensive effort/pressure from the goalie to the strikers, and
5. Having the most vocal (for their size), loyal and dedicated fans with a sold-out stadium attendance for 3 YEARS in a row!!!
Best wishes to the entire Timber organization in the play-offs & bring home the MLS Championship Trophy to Portland, Soccer City USA!!!
I don’t like diving either but if your players are more technical and smaller in size they resort to diving to protect themselves (to get the referee to use his whistle).
Nagbe gets fouled more than anyone in MLS and I have NEVER seem him dive. Valeri gets hammered every game and I have never seen him taker a dive.
(6) Let’s not forget that BOTH starting central defenders weer injured for the season a month or two in.
Believe me .. it’s better than living in El Paso
Obviously, but if sigi would live in El Paso, he would be in the capital of mexican food in the U.S. And he would explode with our food. Viva la sun city
So portland did it before seattle, wow. So seattle has a big stadium, high payroll and a clumsy coach. How sad is that seattle fans. Honestly, seattle needs a new goal keeper n coach.
He’s also fat and very unathletic looking. I don’t think he can see his own two feet.
He is from the NCAA era of Arena, Bradley, and of course the coach in Seattle. Kinda set in there ways and less progressive minded.