On star-studded night, Cristhian Paredes the unlikely hero in Timbers rout

PORTLAND, Ore. — Two of the most prolific and in-form goal scorers in Major League Soccer stared each other down Saturday night when Brian Fernandez and the Portland Timbers welcomed Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the LA Galaxy to Providence Park.

So naturally the hero of the night for the Timbers would be Cristhian Paredes, whose brace keyed a complete team effort in a 4-0 win over the Galaxy.

“I am very happy about scoring twice today,” Paredes after. “I am very happy about the team, too, because we fought very hard today. Overall, I am very happy and we must enjoy this.”

The night could have gone a different direction for Paredes after he went into the referee Allen Chapman’s book for simulation after a collision with Galaxy goalkeeper David Bingham in the 16th minute. But the Paraguayan International stayed aware of his yellow while keeping pressure on the Galaxy.

“You try to be smart about it because you know once you have a yellow card, then you have to calm down and play more responsibly, so you have to measure yourself,” Paredes said.

“Definitely it was a concern,” added Portland coach Giovanni Savarese. “But that showed even more the maturity level. I spoke to Paredes at the end. He was very smart to know when to go in, when not to go. It’s not easy, but I felt he was very mature tonight.”

That smart play was rewarded in the 38th minute when Paredes latched onto a cross from Jorge Moreira in front of goal to open the scoring.

“He was one of the ones at the beginning that was trying to find the space and was trying to move the ball fast and it was becoming a little bit difficult,” Savarese said. “Then once he started finding the gaps, moving the ball well, he had the confidence to be able to go a little bit more into the attack and I felt that moment was perfect for him just to be in the box and capitalize on that cross and score a very important goal for us.”

With the Timbers leading 2-0 and looking to seal the match, it was Paredes who came up with the back breaker, going top shelf on Bingham in the 81st minute to complete his brace and send Providence Park into a frenzy.

Paredes struggled with his confidence after losing his starting spot midway through last season, but performances like the one against the Galaxy can propel him and his team to the next level.

“I am very content, to be honest,” Paredes said. “This is all thanks to the coaching staff and my teammates because they give me a lot of trust and that helps me to work harder every day.”