PORTLAND, Ore. – A Kalif Alhassan goal right before halftime and late strikes by Rodney Wallace, Will Johnson and Diego Valeri was just what the doctor ordered for the Portland Timbers in a much-needed 4-0 victory Saturday night at JELD-WEN Field over struggling Toronto FC.
The victory halted Portland’s first two-game losing streak of the season and maintained their spot in the playoff picture, still tied for fourth place with 42 points from 27 games. Toronto, meanwhile, saw their winless streak reach five games after a week that featured yet another shakeup at the Canadian club.
Portland dominated possession early and often, firing off 21 shots and held on through a late TFC rally holding onto a 1-0 lead. But the drama was put to rest in the 83rd minute when midfielder Diego Valeri, who subbed on late, threaded a pass to Wallace, who finished coolly past Toronto goalkeeper Joe Bendik.
Then Johnson, Portland’s captain making a welcome return to the pitch after missing the last four games with a shoulder injury, tacked on when he took a nice feed from forward José Valencia and sent a missile past Bendik in the 87th minute.
Valencia assisted on the Timbers' final goal, setting up Valeri perfectly with a cross that left Bendik out of position for the easy finish in the third minute of second-half stoppage time.
Before Alhassan’s goal, the first half was a whole lot of Portland possession with little to show for it. In fact, Toronto had a handful more quality scoring looks in early action than did the Timbers.
In the 16th minute, Darel Russell's goal-bound shot was cleared off the line by Alhassan. Twelve minutes later, Robert Earnshaw's acrobatic volley from just beyond the penalty area required a save by Timbers goalkeeper Milos Kocic.
But Portland began building up to more threatening situations as the half progressed. And in the first minute of stoppage time, they finally struck gold when Alhassan chested down a bad clearance by TFC's Jeremy Hall and volleyed a thunderous shot past Bendik for a 1-0 lead.
The Timbers' win is their first since a 2-1 victory over FC Dallas on Aug. 17, and it also breaks a three-game winless streak. They improve to 10-5-12 and next hit the road to face the Western Conference's last-place team in Chivas USA on Sept. 14.
The pain continues for 4-13-10 Toronto FC, the ninth-place team in the Eastern Conference. They next host Chicago on Wednesday.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Will Johnson||Pretty simple: When he plays, the Timbers are much, much better. Added teeth all night long and then got on the score sheet in the final flurry.|
|2||Kalif Alhassan||His opening goal was a thing of beauty and patience, and his goal-line stop in the early going set the tone.|
|3||Rodney Wallace||That he also got on the score sheet late was the icing on the cake for a solid two-way performance.|