Timbers blank Dynamo to continue win streak

Portland beats Houston, 2-0

By Paul Danzer, Columbian Community Sports Reporter

Published:

 

Timbers 2, Dynamo 0

o Where they stand: Portland (7-5-4, 25 points); Houston (5-6-5, 20 points). Portland is tied for third place in the Western Conference with Los Angeles. The Timbers visit the Galaxy on Wednesday.

o Busy stretch: Saturday's game starts a stretch of five matches over 16 days for the Timbers. Portland visits Los Angeles on Wednesday, hosts Seattle on June 28, visits Real Salt Lake for an Open Cup game on July 1 and hosts San Jose on July 5.

o PK choice: Will Johnson said he thought briefly about stepping up to take the penalty kick, but that it is more important to have forwards scoring goals. "I think for this team to win, we need Gaston Fernandez scoring goals. We need our strikers scoring goals. I thought it was just a great opportunity to let him get that goal. He's one of the best I've seen (at penalty kicks). He's a very confident guy."

o Lineup notes: Urruti started up top and Fernandez in the attacking central midfield slot, with Fanendo Adi replacing Urruti in the 76th minute and Diego Valeri relieving Fernandez in the 72nd minute. ... The Timbers started four field players who played all 120 minutes against Seattle on Tuesday: Darlington Nagbe, Rodney Wallace, Norberto Paparatto and Villafana. ... Paparatto got his second league start alongside Liam Ridgewell. Alvas Powell, who left Tuesday's match with a leg injury, went the distance on Saturday at right back. ... Second-year defender Taylor Peay, who relieved Powell on Tuesday, replaced Nagbe in the 86th minute on Saturday. Also available as a substitute was midfielder Michael Nanchoff, who underwent sports hernia surgery in March and played in four matches on loan to Timbers 2 during his recovery.

o Where they stand: Portland (7-5-4, 25 points); Houston (5-6-5, 20 points). Portland is tied for third place in the Western Conference with Los Angeles. The Timbers visit the Galaxy on Wednesday.

o Busy stretch: Saturday’s game starts a stretch of five matches over 16 days for the Timbers. Portland visits Los Angeles on Wednesday, hosts Seattle on June 28, visits Real Salt Lake for an Open Cup game on July 1 and hosts San Jose on July 5.

o PK choice: Will Johnson said he thought briefly about stepping up to take the penalty kick, but that it is more important to have forwards scoring goals. “I think for this team to win, we need Gaston Fernandez scoring goals. We need our strikers scoring goals. I thought it was just a great opportunity to let him get that goal. He’s one of the best I’ve seen (at penalty kicks). He’s a very confident guy.”

o Lineup notes: Urruti started up top and Fernandez in the attacking central midfield slot, with Fanendo Adi replacing Urruti in the 76th minute and Diego Valeri relieving Fernandez in the 72nd minute. … The Timbers started four field players who played all 120 minutes against Seattle on Tuesday: Darlington Nagbe, Rodney Wallace, Norberto Paparatto and Villafana. … Paparatto got his second league start alongside Liam Ridgewell. Alvas Powell, who left Tuesday’s match with a leg injury, went the distance on Saturday at right back. … Second-year defender Taylor Peay, who relieved Powell on Tuesday, replaced Nagbe in the 86th minute on Saturday. Also available as a substitute was midfielder Michael Nanchoff, who underwent sports hernia surgery in March and played in four matches on loan to Timbers 2 during his recovery.

PORTLAND — Things are falling the Timbers’ way these days.

On Saturday, against a team that thrives by scoring from free kicks and corner kicks, it was Portland that made the most of those chances. The result was a 2-0 win over the Houston Dynamo at sold-out Providence Park that extended the Timbers’ Major League Soccer win streak to four games, and their overall string of victories to five.

Maximilliano Urruti and Gaston Fernandez scored the goals as the Timbers extended their club-record win streak to five games overall. Timbers coach Caleb Porter said his team isn’t really playing noticeably better than it was when struggling to win early in the season.

“You go back through every game and there were more good performances than bad performances, but we were falling short. And now we’re finally getting the job done,” Porter said. “Maybe it’s confidence. Maybe it’s a little more hunger. The competition we created (for playing time) might have helped.”

In the 34th minute, Urruti rose up to meet a Jorge Villafana free kick and head it into the goal for his third MLS goal of the season. Beating defender Raul Rodriguez to the ball, Urruti met the cross near the penalty spot 12 yards from goal off the delivery from 35 yards away to the left. Darlington Nagbe drew the foul that produced that free kick.

Fernandez’s second goal of the season came on a penalty kick in the 60th minute. That was awarded when referee Baldomero Toledo spied former Timber David Horst pull down Urruti on a Timbers corner kick opportunity.

As advertised, the Dynamo were most dangerous on restarts. Houston put an early corner kick into the goal, but had the score erased because Villafana was fouled hard on the play.

“We’ve given up four goals on set pieces in 16 games,” Timbers coach Caleb Porter said. “I’ll probably jinx myself here, but we’ve been very good on (defending) set pieces. Very good. And that’s a big part of the game.”

Without Brad Davis, who didn’t make the trip, along with Giles Barnes and Jermaine Taylor who are with the Jamaican national team for the Copa America tournament, Houston struggled to create dangerous scoring opportunities — until forced to push players forward late. That’s when DaMarcus Beasley sent a 10-yard chance well high, and Ricardo Clark’s bicycle kick caught the crossbar.

If the Timbers fortunes were falling differently, perhaps those turn into Houston goals. But right now, Portland is enjoying a nice climb up the standings.