PORTLAND — Ryan Johnson scored two goals and the Portland Timbers beat the Houston Dynamo 2-0 Saturday night for their first win of the season.
“It’s big,” Portland’s first-year coach Caleb Porter said of the win. “It reinforces the hard work we’ve been doing and the training. It reinforces that we are a good team.”
Johnson, a forward acquired from Toronto in the offseason, scored goals in the 55th and 73rd minutes as the Timbers (1-1-4) came alive in the second half to beat the Dynamo for the first time in four tries during their three-year history.
Houston (3-2-1) is winless in two matches on the road this season. The Dynamo, runners-up for the MLS cup in 2011 and 2012, had five shots to Portland’s one in the first half, as every member of the Houston front line and midfield had an attempt. However, in the second half, the Timbers controlled the play.
Johnson scored his second goal of the season on an assist from Diego Chara, and then celebrated by throwing his head back and sticking out his tongue to catch rain drops as he jogged back down the field.
“It was a great post from Chara and I just made my near post run,” Johnson said. “I got just enough on it.”
The Timbers had a golden opportunity to follow up just minutes later, but Rodney Wallace’s blast caromed off the right post. Johnson set up Darlington Nagbe for what would have been a sure goal, but Nagbe couldn’t catch up with the ball as it sailed through the box.
It didn’t matter. Johnson sealed things by breaking away in the 73rd minute and blasting a shot past Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall into the top right corner of the net.
Houston’s best shot in the second half was on a blast in the 90th minute by Omar Cummings that was deflected by Portland keeper Donovan Ricketts.
Portland had nine shots in the second half to Houston’s four.
“We never set back, even up two goals,” Portland Porter said. “We just kept playing.”
It didn’t start well for Portland. With a cold, driving rain prevailing and the aggressive Dynamo drawing the ire of the Timbers Army, a chippy atmosphere took hold. Injuries required the Timbers to make two first-half substitutions for the first time in their history.
Diego Valeri left the field in the 25th minute after taking an elbow to the face from Jermaine Taylor, which left a gash near his eye. Before that, Portland center back David Horst was taken off on a stretcher in the 15th minute with a right knee injury. Horst had missed the first three games of the season with a groin issue before returning March 30.
Houston’s Adam Moffat left in the second half after colliding with Chara.
TIMBERS 2, DYNAMO 0
Houston 0 0–0
Portland 0 2–2
Second half–1, Portland, Johnson 2 (Chara), 55th minute. 2, Portland, Johnson 3 (Nagbe), 73rd.
Goalies–Houston, Tally Hall; Portland, Donovan Ricketts.
Yellow Cards–Driver, Houston, 36th; Silvestre, Portland, 45th+.
Referee–Ricardo Salazar. Assistant Referees–Ian Anderson. Mike Kampmeinert. 4th Official–Alejandro Mariscal.
Houston–Tally Hall, Corey Ashe, Kofi Sarkodie, Jermaine Taylor, Bobby Boswell, Giles Barnes, Brad Davis, Andrew Driver, Adam Moffat (Warren Creavalle, 64th), Ricardo Clark (Omar Cummings, 81st), Cam Weaver (Brian Ching, 71st).
Portland–Donovan Ricketts, David Horst (Andrew Jean-Baptiste, 18th), Michael Harrington, Rodney Wallace, Mikael Silvestre, Darlington Nagbe, Will Johnson, Jack Jewsbury, Diego Valeri (Kalif Alhassan, 29th), Diego Chara, Ryan Johnson (Frederic Piquionne, 88th).