CARSON, Calif. – Diego Valeri made an immediate impact as a second-half substitute, scoring shortly after taking the pitch to help the Portland Timbers gain an important point Saturday night in a 1-1 draw against Chivas USA at the StubHub Center.
Valeri replaced Kalif Alhassan to start the second half and found the net five minutes later, potting the equalizer with a powerful strike past goalkeeper Dan Kennedy. It was Valeri’s seventh goal of the season.
Chivas had held the lead for nearly a half hour at that point, thanks to a well-taken header by Bryan de la Fuente after a well-worked sequence through the midfield.
For the first time since July 20 against Philadelphia, the Timbers (10-5-13) earned a point on the road. Chivas USA (6-15-8) have gotten at least a point in four of their last five matches, nabbing eight points in that span as they embrace the “spoiler” tag.
Portland nearly went ahead in the 60th minute, but Rodney Wallace failed to tap in from close range. Erick “Cubo” Torres almost gave the Rojiblancos a late lead but Donovan Ricketts stopped his breakaway chance in the 68th minute.
Despite not having much to play for, Chivas USA appeared to be the more assertive side in the first half. Carlos Alvarez had a golden opportunity from the top of the box in the eighth minute, but Ricketts made an easy save on a curling shot. The Rojiblancos had another solid chance 10 minutes later, yet Edgar Mejia’s volley sailed wide.
There was nothing Ricketts could do to prevent the Goats from striking in the 23rd minute, though, as de la Fuente flicked a header to the top right corner for the advantage.
Valeri netted the equalizer early in the second half to help the Timbers to a much-needed result.
Portland dominated the previous meeting, winning 3-0 at JELD-WEN Field in May. The two sides will battle once more on Oct. 26 at StubHub Center in the regular season finale.
Up next for the Timbers is a pivotal home match against fellow playoff contender Colorado on Sept. 20, while Chivas USA travel to face the Houston Dynamo on Sept. 21.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Oswaldo Minda||This team is much, much more formidable when he's in central midfield breaking up play|
|2||Diego Valeri||Pure class. Always finds a way to make a difference even when he's not at his best|
|3||Carlos Bocanegra||When the Goats needed to scramble, he was leading the way. Kept it tight at the back.|