PORTLAND, Ore. – Suddenly, the Portland Timbers are jumping for joy.
Or, after Friday night’s 1-0 victory over the Colorado Rapids at a rocking JELD-WEN Field, the Timbers are back-flipping for joy.
That was how Bright Dike celebrated his second goal of the season after he turned in a Sal Zizzo cross in the 45th minute, giving the Timbers two consecutive wins for the first time in 2012 and a touch of revenge after losing 3-0 to the Rapids on June 30.
A sluggish and chippy first half suddenly exploded into life just before the break. First, a cross from Zizzo was picked out of the air by Franck Songo’o for a stinging shot that took a deflection before Colorado goalkeeper Matt Pickens – excellent all evening – made a stunning kick save to keep it at 0-0.
But on a Portland counter just seconds later, another perfectly placed Zizzo cross connected with Dike. And the big striker was able to direct it into the open net in front of the Timbers Army. He then gave the Army another show with two celebratory flips.
The Timbers cruised to the goal on build-up touches from Diego Chara and Darlington Nagbe, to eventually find Zizzo streaking down the right side.
Portland almost added a second before the break as Nagbe streaked through the Colorado defense onto a long Songo’o through ball, but he pushed his shot just wide of Pickens’ post.
The Rapids, desperate to end a deep skid that’s seen them slide out of the playoff hunt, came out with more attacking intent in the second half. Largely through Argentine enganche Martin Rivero, Colorado controlled long stretches of play. But they were unable to find the cutting edge as they were turned away repeatedly by Portland’s backline or, on occasion, ‘keeper Donovan Ricketts.
They probably should have equalized in the 86th minute when Omar Cummings got loose six yards out, but the veteran headed wide. In the first minute of extra time they got another look when second-half substitute Andre Akpan teed up a left-footed blast from the top of the box, but he failed to test Ricketts as well.
With the three points, Portland climb over Colorado into eighth place in the Western Conference with 27 points from 26 games.
The scuffling Rapids fall into last place with 26 points from 27 games.
The two teams meet again on Wednesday at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park for the third and final time this season.
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at email@example.com.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Sal Zizzo||This is the livewire winger we all remember from the 2007 U-20 World Cup. He's finally healthy and comfortable - and borderline unstoppable.|
|2||Bright Dike||Big, classic center forward with great strength, mobility and soft feet. He's one of the big reasons Portland's offense is finally clicking.|
|3||Matt Pickens||If his 44th-minute kick save isn't a Save of the Year nominee, there needs to be an investigation. Deserved at least a point.|