PORTLAND, Ore. – Ryan Johnson delivered the first win of the Portland Timbers’ 2013 campaign in style, breaking open a rough-and-tumble stalemate against the Houston Dynamo with a second-half brace in a 2-0 victory on a rain-drenched Saturday night at JELD-WEN Field.
Not only was it the first victory for first-year head coach Caleb Porter, it was also a feel-good win against the two-time defending MLS Cup runners-up after two key Timbers players were lost to nasty injuries in the first half.
It also marked the first time the Timbers – who jumped into seventh place in the Western Conference with six points – have taken three points from Houston.
The Dynamo walk away empty handed for the second time in two road games, dropping them to third place in the East with nine points from five games.
After a scoreless first half, which saw Timbers midfielder Diego Valeri and David Horst ushered into the locker room with injuries, Portland started the second half inspired.
Four minutes in, Darlington Nagbe and Rodney Wallace teamed up for some dangerous play in the 18. But Nagbe’s clear shot from the top of the box rolled just wide.
Portland didn’t miss on their next chance, however, when Johnson took a perfectly placed cross from Diego Chara in the 55th minute and nudged it by Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall with a lunging left-footed attempt.
Johnson added to his memorable night when he broke free down the left flank and buried his shot inside the far post after Nagbe had won the ball deep, then played him through following some combination play with Kalif Alhassan.
Houston did little to threaten the Portland lead as the Timbers continually pressed the issue. The Dynamo finished with just one shot on goal in the second half.
It was a different tale in the first half.
The bodies started falling in the 16th minute when Horst awkwardly contested a Giles Barnes run into the area, crumpling to the turf writhing in pain after his ankle rolled. He was stretchered off and replaced by second-year center back Andrew Jean-Baptiste.
Then Valeri was sent sprawling in the 25th minute when he took a Jermaine Taylor forearm to the face on a 50-50 ball. The woozy playmaker was aided off by trainers and replaced with Alhassan.
In stoppage time, Timbers defender Mikael Silvestre was booked when he went in two-footed on Barnes, who had to be helped off the field. Barnes would return in the second half.
FULL LINEUPS AND BOXSCORE
As for the soccer, Houston provided the most dangerous looks despite a lot of Portland possession, resulting in just one shot on goal for each team.
In the 32nd minute, Cam Weaver was too strong on a point-blank look at the goal, sending his attempt over the cross bar, off an Andrew Driver cross that came through the area untouched.
Then just two minutes later, a low left-footed screamer by Brad Davis required a diving save from Donovan Ricketts.
Portland remains at home for their next game Sunday against the San Jose Earthquakes. Houston returns home for a Sunday game against Chicago.
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Darlington Nagbe||Did everything but get the goal. Won balls in midfield, stretched the defense, set the tempo, hit the final pass. Brilliant game.|
|2||Ryan Johnson||Keeps putting himself in position to do good things for the Timbers, and now it's starting to flow. Two well-deserved goals.|
|3||Diego Chara||Seemed to play with more purpose once Valeri went off. Fed off the hard work of Nagbe, Alhassan and Will Johnson, then made plays.|