PORTLAND, Ore. – Aritz Aduriz christened Valencia CF’s first US trip with a goal in their 1-0 victory Wednesday night over the Portland Timbers at JELD-WEN Field.
The Spanish La Liga side, fresh off a third-place finish in the 2011-12 season, put on an impressive first-half performance with eight shots in fast-paced action. The Timbers, who fielded a lineup of a number of starters despite a Cascadia rivalry game with Vancouver looming Saturday, gamely competed against the top-level club with five shots of their own in the first 45.
The back-and-forth first half finally resulted in a goal in the 41st minute. A Valencia run of possession culminated in Aduriz receiving the ball at the top of the box. He took one touch to skirt Franck Songo’o and fired a right-footed bullet past a diving Troy Perkins.
Valencia nearly went up 2-0 three minutes later when Pablo curled around the defense on the left wing and played a perfect ball back to Aduriz. But the Spanish forward’s bouncing shot attempt was deflected over the bar.
Portland’s best attempt at a first-half tally came in the seventh minute when a Mike Chabala throw in met with Kalif Alhassan in the penalty area. But Diego Alves nicely saved his shot.
Timbers midfielder Songo’o and forward Perlaza each got off two shots, along with defender David Horst, who saw his first major action of the season after undergoing offseason hip surgery.
But there would be no equalizer, despite a second half which saw 15 total shots and both sides emptying their benches.
The closest Portland got to evening thing came late in the game when second-half substitute Mike Fuctio made a run into the teeth of the Valencia defense in the 84th minute. He laid off a cross for Bright Dike in the middle of the penalty area, but Dike’s shot was deflected out before it could reach the goal.
Ultimately, the Spanish side was up to the task as Portland made a final push for a goal.
Valencia’s swing stateside continues May 31 against the Houston Dynamo.
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.