"Brave" Dynamo push Timbers in thriller: "We can compete with any team"

PORTLAND, Ore.—Two perfect teams entered, but only one team prevailed on Saturday.

After 90 minutes of hard-fought soccer, it was the Portland Timbers who stood atop the standings, having bested the Houston Dynamo in a six-goal thriller.

It might have been the home side who came away from the match with all three points, but in the wake of the Timbers’ 4-2 victory it was clear that both teams will be making waves this season.

“It was a fun game,” said Dynamo head coach Wilmer Cabrera after the match. Smiling ruefully, he added, “Especially for them.”

In a match that saw the two sides combine for 27 shots and both teams come from behind to take the lead, both Cabrera and Timbers head coach Caleb Porter had praise for their opponents.

“[The Timbers are] a very tough team, a very dangerous team,” Cabrera said. “We knew that from the beginning. We knew that they were very dangerous, that when they were at home they were going to create a lot of chances.

“In the second half, we failed to take the ball away from them. They took advantage of their opportunities today and they were clinical when they had to finish.”

Porter was similarly complimentary of the Dynamo.

“They are a good team,” Porter said. “They are athletic, they are organized, and they play with a bit of a chip on their shoulder as well. That comes from the coach for sure. The mentality is much different than it has been. It reminds me of back when [Dominic Kinnear] had the team. They fight. They play brave.”

But while the Timbers are a team that is taking a step forward from their finish just outside of the playoffs in 2016, the Dynamo are aiming to be the latest MLS side to make the journey from worst-toward-first after finishing last in the Western Conference a year ago.

For his part, Cabrera knows the Dynamo have made major strides from last year, but they are not yet a finished product.

“When the players are on the field and they are sharp, they look good, they create options, they play well,” Cabrera said. “We can match up with any other team. It is coming along. We have to continue working, we have to continue coaching, and we have to continue believing in everything that we have been doing.”