By MIKE DONOVAN
PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Timbers had little trouble with Alpha United Tuesday night, defeating the Guyanese side by a comfortable 6-0 margin at a soggy Providence Park.
Defender Norberto Paparatto led the way with two goals while Jack Jewsbury, Gaston Fernandez, Michael Nanchoff, and Fanendo Adi added goals for Portland, which maintained its place at the top of Group 5 in the CONCACAF Champions League with one match yet to be played. The victory was the club’s third in eight days across all competitions, and the Timbers have dispatched their foes by a 13-2 margin in that stretch.
“I don’t know if it could have gone any better,” Porter said. “We got through healthy, we’ll have a fresh group for the next game.”
Jewsbury, who started on the left-side of the midfield for the Timbers, became the first Portland scorer of the night when he calmly corralled a Michael Harrington pass with his right foot before beating Alpha goalkeeper Ronson Williams with his left. The goal was Jewsbury’s first in any competition for the Timbers in more than a year.
Wearing the captain’s armband for the night, Jewsbury, said it was important to score early against the heavy underdog.
“When we were in Guyana, we didn’t think we started as well as we could of and should of, so we wanted to make sure we got that first goal to get ourselves going a little bit,” Jewsbury said. “It felt good to get that one.”
Fernandez notched his first goal in CCL play when he latched on to a deflected Maxi Urruti cross to give the Timbers a 2-0 halftime lead. The goal was Fernandez’s 12th for Portland across all competitions this season.
Paparatto scored after the break via a pair of headers following Nanchoff corner kicks. They were the defender’s first two goals since coming to Portland in the offseason from Argentine side Tigre.
Nanchoff, who has played just 85 minutes in MLS this season, joined in on the fun when his left-footed blast flew past Williams. Second-half substitute Adi then capped the scoring when he turned and fired home with his left foot from deep inside the Alpha penalty area. It was the first time this season that Adi scored just one goal in a match, having recorded four braces previously in 2014.
Sandwiched between league matches, the Timbers played in front of a season-low 8,968 fans on a rainy night in Portland on Tuesday. Portland was also facing a team that had traveled over 5,000 miles to play the match and that had been outscored 14-0 on its two previous CCL road trips.
“Mentally you have to make sure you are up for it, even though you are supposed to win,” Jewsbury said. “And we’ve seen in the past, these ain’t easy ones to take care of, so to get a shutout and six goals, we’re very happy with the result and the performance.”
Getting his first start in a competitive match since 2011 for the Timbers was goalkeeper Jake Gleeson, who finished the night with a shutout. Gleeson, who rejoined the Timbers for the match, will go back on loan to Sacramento Republic FC in time for the USL Pro championship match on Saturday.
“He’s obviously done really well on loan with Sacramento, he’s in the championship game on Saturday, we just felt it made sense to get him a game for the Timbers, for us,” Porter said.
Portland has now scored 14 goals in its first three Champions League matches, breaking a record held by Mexican side Cruz Azu for most by a club in that many games in the competition.
Already eliminated from competition prior to the match, Alpha United finishes Champions League play with a 0-0-4 record and a -15 goal differential.
Next up for Portland in the competition is an away trip to Honduras to take on CD Olimpia on Oct. 21. The Timbers have nine points to Olimpia’s six and will advance to the knockout stage with a victory, a tie, or a loss by one-goal. A two-goal loss could see them through depending on tiebreakers.
Meanwhile, in league play, Portland will travel to Canada for a cross-conference match with Toronto FC on Saturday.
What did you think of the Timbers’ lopsided victory? Who on Portland really impressed you? How impressed are you with the club breaking the record for most goals through three games in the competition?
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