PORTLAND — The win was certainly needed.
Even though Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Chivas USA at Providence Park came against the team at the bottom of the Western Conference, it was noteworthy as the first shutout home victory of the season and because the Portland Timbers established an early lead and made it last.
“We’re not going to do what we want to do unless we defend well. That was a real point of emphasis this week and I thought it showed in the game,” Timbers coach Caleb Porter said.
The win moves the Timbers (7-7-9, 30 points) into a tie with Colorado for fifth place in the Western Conference. The Vancouver Whitecaps are one point back and have played two fewer matches.
Diego Valeri continued his hot streak with a screamer of a goal, and Rodney Wallace scored as Portland struck twice in the first 39 minutes.
Valeri scored from 23 yards, his shot from straight in front of the goal curved beyond the reach of goalkeeper Dan Kennedy for a 1-0 lead. The opportunity came after Valeri charged forward on a counter-attack after Diego Chara broke up a forward run by Chivas’ Agustin Pelletieri.
It was the fourth goal in as many matches for Valeri, who downplayed that streak as lucky. This was another shot from distance, the space to shoot opening when Gaston Fernandez made a run in front of Valeri to draw some attention from the defense.
“Part of every goal is the movement from other players. I thought Gaston did a great run and I was lucky,” Valeri said. “I needed space to shoot and he did that.”
Chara’s tenacity also sparked the second goal as the midfielder won possession high up the right wing and slipped a pass to Valeri. Valeri crossed the ball to Fanendo Adi, who was 8 yards in front of the goal. Adi held off a defender and touched the ball to Wallace in space for the finish.
“I tried to shoot, but (a defender) stopped my leg from shooting, so the only thing I could do was toe the ball to the next guy,” Adi said. “It turned out to be the right thing.”
It was the first goal of the year for Wallace, who spent the first half of the season recovering from offseason knee surgery.
“For the team that means a lot,” Valeri said of Wallace’s goal. “He’s very important to the team and he got a big injury. I’m very, very happy. He deserved that.”
The Timbers nearly had a two-goal lead sooner. Midway through the first half, Will Johnson’s free kick deflected to Valeri, but his centering attempt was just behind Fernandez. Seconds later, Johnson’s 20-yard shot slammed off the left post and Liam Ridgewell was ruled offsides when he put home the rebound.
Ridgewell would have liked to score his first Timbers goal, but he was satisfied with his first shutout and first game partnering in central defense with Norberto Paparatto.
“We read off each other very well tonight. I think it was a good partnership tonight,” Ridgewell said, noting that Paparatto speaks English better than he speaks Spanish.
Portland goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts made a strong save in the 83rd minute after Leandro Barrera cut across the top of the 18-yard box and took a shot through traffic. Ricketts played a strong match, coming out to cut off a number of Chivas crosses.
Portland’s only other shutout this season was a 2-0 over Chivas USA on the road. The only previous two-goal lead at home came in an early season match against Seattle that ended in a 4-4 draw.
“It was a bit strange going in at halftime 2-nil up, instead of coming back,” Ridgewell said with a smile. “I think we performed very well. I think it was a great effort.”
The shutout was produced by yet another combination of defenders. Paparatto started for the first time since May 28, lining up to the right of Ridgewell at center back. Danny O’Rourke, who had been Ridgewell’s center back partner for three games, moved to right back and Michael Harrington manned the left.
With Darlington Nagbe (knee) missing his second consecutive game, Portland started Fernandez with Wallace and Valeri in attacking midfield positions supporting Adi at striker. Maximiliano Urruti (for Adi), Steve Zakuani (for Fernandez) and Ben Zemanski (for Valeri) were late-game substitutes for Portland.
TIMBERS 2, CHIVAS USA 0
Chivas USA 0 0—0
Portland 2 0—2
First half—1, Portland, Valeri 7 (Chara), 10th minute. 2, Portland, Wallace 1 (Adi), 39th.
Goalies—Chivas USA, Dan Kennedy; Portland, Donovan Ricketts.
Yellow Cards—Lochhead, Chivas USA, 12th; Minda, Chivas USA, 33rd; Valeri, Portland, 51st; Pelletieri, Chivas USA, 59th; Ridgewell, Portland, 90th+; Delgado, Chivas USA, 90th+.
Referee—Drew Fischer. Assistant Referees—Baboucarr Jallow. Marco Arruda. 4th Official—Daniel Radford.
Chivas USA—Dan Kennedy, Akira Kaji, Tony Lochhead, Oswaldo Minda (Marco Delgado, 60th), Nathan Sturgis, Agustin Pelletieri (Ryan Finley, 80th), Marvin Chavez (Leandro Barrera, 46th), Mauro Rosales, Donald Toia, Erick Torres, Eriq Zavaleta.
Portland—Donovan Ricketts, Norberto Paparatto, Michael Harrington, Liam Ridgewell, Diego Valeri (Ben Zemanski, 86th), Diego Chara, Danny O’Rourke, Will Johnson, Gaston Fernandez (Steve Zakuani, 78th), Fanendo Adi (Maximiliano Urruti, 68th), Rodney Wallace.