Portland Timbers head coach Caleb Porter has said all along that the goals would come.
Porter has maintained that his attacking group was getting in good positions to score, pointing to the fact that they are among the league leaders in shots, despite scuffling along all season as one of MLS’ lowest scoring teams.
But through 32 games – plus the first half of Sunday night’s crucial Western Conference showdown against LA Galaxy at StubHub Center – they never came.
Then, after the halftime break Sunday, they finally did. And boy, did they ever come. One after the other, until the Timbers were walking off the field all smiles, hugs, and backslaps after a shocking 5-2 victory.
Five goals in one half of soccer, just more than 25 minutes to be accurate, far surpassing Portland’s previous high of three goals in a game and giving them their first ever win at StubHub since joining the league in 2011.
“A lot of people doubted us,” Timbers head coach Caleb Porter said in his postgame comments. “No one in that locker room ever doubted themselves, they never doubted each other. You saw that in the performance, even down a goal. … Down a goal and they’re on the road against the best team in the league, for these guys to claw back in and put up five goals and make a statement like that is massive.”
Striker Fanendo Adi was the catalyst, scoring the Timbers’ first in the 65th minute to equalize at 1-1 before burying the go-ahead goal on a penalty kick three minutes later. Diego Chara followed suit with the Timbers’ third.
In is postgame comments, Adi recalled his statement to media earlier in the week saying that LA were “beatable” despite the Timbers only managing two previous draws in seven trips to the expansive pitch of StubHub.
“I said we are coming to win,” Adi said. “Early on I had the interview, and I said we are coming to win. So we are very pleased we won, and not just won but won convincingly. And five goals is a lot, but we are very proud of our efforts.”
The profound statement against the one-time Supporters’ Shield chasers comes at a very good time for the Timbers. The win, their second straight after Wednesday’s 1-0 away win over Real Salt Lake, moves them out of a tie with the San Jose Earthquakes for the sixth and final Audi 2015 MLS Cup Playoff spot in the West and into fourth place.
“Maybe there are some guys in LA that are more talented than us, but we wanted to be the better team today,” Porter said. “And that always needs to be our edge is that we’re a team and we play together and we fight for each other and have good spirit, and I think you saw that today.”
A point in their season finale next Sunday at home against the last-place Colorado Rapids is now all the Timbers need to clinch their second postseason berth in franchise history, all coming in Porter’s three seasons at the helm.
A win against the Rapids would mean they host a Knockout Round match.
“Definitely, definitely; we are heating up at the right time, and this is a warning to other teams,” Adi said. “We are going to enjoy this victory, it’s amazing. I am very pleased that we are all excited, and now we just have to go home and take care of business.”