Perlaza the hero as Timbers win thrilling home opener
PORTLAND, Ore. — On a memorable night for the soccer fans of Portland—and around MLS—the only way it could have gone wrong would have been a loss on the field.
But the Portland Timbers, inspired by the wall of noise coming from the north end of JELD-WEN Field, made sure that the memory of opening night for their stadium didn't go wrong, as they won their first ever MLS game, 4-2, over the Chicago Fire on a rainy night in the Rose City.
First-half goals from Jorge Perlaza and Rodney Wallace gave the Timbers a 2-0 advantage at halftime. Perlaza struck again three minutes into the second half, before the Fire were able to pull two back and make things interesting. But a fourth goal in the 84th minute iced the match.
The rain did nothing to keep the Timbers Army, the club's massive supporter group, from showing up in droves, singing and revealing colorful tifo displays from the first minute.
They looked set to cheer for a goal in just the 11th minute, when Kenny Cooper headed in a Jack Jewsbury corner kick. But the linesman's flag was up, indicating the outswinging kick had gone over the line on its way into the center.
The celebrations started up for real in the 29th minute. Colombia striker Perlaza has struggled to convert chances so far this season, but he showed no such problems when he scored the first-ever goal at JELD-WEN. He ran onto a pass from Kalif Alhassan, cut back against a defender and onrushing Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson, and fired into an empty net. The stadium erupted, and Timber Joey, the club's mascot, sliced his first slab from the log. A slab is sliced off each time the Timbers score.
Timber Joey had to cut another slab nine minutes later. Jewsbury's free kick into the box was weakly cleared by the Fire backline. Wallace, up from the left defender position, raced forward and pounded the loose ball into the net from 20 yards.
After the break, the Timbers got a lucky bounce when Wallace's cross bounced away from Johnson. Perlaza pounced on on the loose ball and tapped it into the net.
The Fire created relatively few chances until second-half sub Dominic Oduro came on. The speedy Ghanaian striker had a one-on-one chance in the 60th minute but Timbers goalkeeper Jake Gleeson made a diving save.
Then, in the 66th minute, Chicago broke through. Portland defender Eric Brunner tried to slide in and punch the ball away from Pappa. But the ball came off Brunner’s cleat and skidded past Gleeson into the net.
Suddenly, the Fire had more life to them. In the 81st minute, they made things even more interesting. Pappa got some space just outside the Timbers' box, turned, and fired a ball over Gleeson’s head to draw the Fire within a goal.
But the comeback was not to be. In the 84th minute, a moment of chaos in front of the Fire goal after another Jewsbury corner kick ended when defender Dasan Robinson knocked the ball into his own goal.
With the win, the Timbers move up into a tie for 7th place in the West, while Chicago remain in 8th in the East.
POR -- Jorge Perlaza 1 (Kalif Alhassan 1) 29
POR -- Rodney Wallace 1 (unassisted) 37
POR -- Jorge Perlaza 2 (unassisted) 47
CHI -- own goal (Eric Brunner) 65
CHI -- Marco Pappa 2 (Dominic Oduro 1) 80
POR – own goal (Dasan Robinson) 84
Chicago Fire -- Sean Johnson, Jalil Anibaba, Dasan Robinson, Cory Gibbs, Gonzalo Segares, Marco Pappa,Logan Pause, Patrick Nyarko, Michael Videira (Marko Maric 46) (Orr Barouch 63), Gaston Puerari (Dominic Oduro 46), Diego Chaves.
Portland Timbers -- Jake Gleeson, Steve Purdy, Eric Brunner, Mamadou Danso, Rodney Wallace, Jeremy Hall(Sal Zizzo 68), Jack Jewsbury, James Marcelin, Kalif Alhassan (Darlington Nagbe 82), Jorge Perlaza (Eddie Johnson 77), Kenny Cooper.
Substitutes Not Used: Kevin Goldthwaite, Adam Moffat, Ryan Pore, Kevin Guppy.
CHI -- Gonzalo Segares (caution; Reckless Tackle) 16
CHI -- Cory Gibbs (caution; Reckless Tackle) 37
POR -- Kalif Alhassan (caution; Delaying a Restart) 43
POR -- Jeremy Hall (caution; Reckless Tackle) 53
POR -- Jack Jewsbury (caution; Reckless Tackle) 57
CHI -- Jalil Anibaba (caution; Dissent) 84
Referee: Ricardo Salazar
Referee's Assistants: Ian Anderson; Jeff Hosking
4th Official: Juan Guzman
Time of Game: 1:53