PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Timbers sent notice that they aren’t going anywhere in the race to the top of the Western Conference with a definitive 1-0 victory Saturday afternoon over first-place FC Dallas at a rocking JELD-WEN Field.
Timbers midfielder Darlington Nagbe’s no-look spinning goal in the 52nd minute highlighted a back-and-forth offensive showcase between two of MLS’ hottest teams. But it was the Timbers who appeared right at home with the breakneck pace, producing the most dangerous chances despite being outshot 19-17.
With the win, which extends Portland’s club-record unbeaten streak to 13 games, the Timbers remain in third place in the West but now sit just two points behind Dallas and one behind idle Real Salt Lake, who sit in second place.
After a scoreless first half that saw a combined 13 shots between the two teams, Nagbe broke open the impasse in the 52nd minute when he took a throw-in from Kalif Alhassan on the left corner of the penalty area. With Dallas defender George John at his back, Nagbe spun and buried a no-look, curler that FCD goalkeeper Raul Fernandez could only watch sail to the far corner.
That appeared to open Dallas up a bit, as Portland continued to press throughout the rest of the match. And seven minutes after the goal, Timbers forward Frederic Piquionne took a through pass from midfielder Will Johnson and fired off the right post.
Then in the 68th minute, Portland midfielder Diego Valeri broke free down the middle and unleashed a left-footed shot that Fernandez just ushered over the bar.
Fernandez was called into duty again in the 75th minute when Timbers midfielder Diego Chara came charging down the middle, sidestepped a Dallas defender for an open look was nudged just wide by the Peruvian netminder, who made three top-shelf stops.
Chara had an even better look two minutes later when a clever scoop pass from Nagbe put nothing but green between him and Fernandez. But Chara’s open shot rolled just wide of the right post.
The best looks for the visitors came on a searing shot by Jackson that was parried away by Timbers goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts in first-half stoppage time.
It was Jackson again when he stripped Timbers midfielder Will Johnson in the 72nd minute and had a clear look at the goal, but his shot sailed high.
In the end, Ricketts notched an impressive seven saves to preserve the important win and the Timbers' 5th straight shutout at home.
Portland won’t have much time to revel in the victory, however, as they travel to face the LA Galaxy on Wednesday before returning home to play host to Colorado next Sunday. Dallas welcome Sporting Kansas City next Saturday.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Darlington Nagbe||In an even match-up between two of MLS' best teams, his talent is the difference-maker on the field. All he scores is spectacular goals.|
|2||Raul Fernandez||The Dallas goalkeeper makes three world-class saves to keep his team in the game. There's nothing he can do on the Nagbe goal.|
|3||Diego Chara||Another sensational two-way performance by the Colombian, who even has the legs to lead two counterattacks late in the match.|