PORTLAND, Ore. – The loud and raucous Timbers Army welcomed new Designated Player Kris Boyd to Portland, and the Scottish marksman repaid them handsomely.
Boyd scored the 66th-minute match-winner as the Portland Timbers came back from a goal deficit to defeat the Philadelphia Union on Monday night, 3-1, in their home opener at a sold-out JELD-WEN Field.
The Union opened the scoring and took the lead in the 51st minute on a free kick from newcomer Gabriel Gómez.
FULL MATCH HIGHLIGHTS
But three minutes later, rookie Andrew Jean-Baptiste equalized for Portland when Philly’s young 'keeper Zac MacMath fumbled his header into the net. And Timbers midfielder Kalif Alhassan sealed the result in the 76th minute with his first-ever MLS goal.
A rainy, chilly evening began with pomp and circumstance, complete with fireworks, a tifo display by the Timbers fans, and the national anthem sung by the club’s supporters group, the Timbers Army.
The first half passed with little incident as both teams tried to integrate new faces. Boyd and Jean-Baptiste made debuts for the home side, while Philly manager Peter Nowak handed debuts to four players, Gómez, defender Porfirio López, and attackers Lionard Pajoy and Josué Martínez.
Unsurprisingly, both sides struggled to find a rhythm thanks to the slick surface and opening-day nerves.
But that didn’t stop the fans from keeping up the noise. Until Gómez silenced them in the 51st minute. The Panamanian international’s free kick sailed through the Portland back line, ticked off of Jean-Baptiste and flew past Timbers goalkeeper Troy Perkins. Originally recorded as an own-goal, it was given to Gómez after further review.
It didn’t take long for Portland to level things. In the 54th minute, Jean-Baptiste, a first-year defender who made his debut only because Colombian defender Hanyer Mosquera held up on transfer issues, outjumped the Philly defense on a free kick from Jack Jewsbury, and redirected his header on goal. At first, it appeared MacMath had the save, but the ball squirted under him and into the back of the net.
Then Portland’s more well-known newcomer took center stage. Boyd gave the Timbers the lead in the 66th minute. Alhassan, who was active all night, popped a cross into the center and Boyd ingeniously flicked it into the far side netting.
After the second goal, Portland took control of the match. They eventually finished with 55.5 percent of the possession and outshot the Union, 17-5.
One of those shots was Alhassan’s icing goal in the 76th minute. After collecting the ball on the right flank, he rounded Lopez and seemed to be crossing. Instead, the ball looped over MacMath and settled in the far netting.
Either way, the match was won, and the fans went home happy.
They’ll have their next chance to support the Timbers on March 17, when the club travels to FC Dallas. The Union return home to PPL Park to face the Colorado Rapids on the NBC Sports Network.
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at email@example.com.