PORTLAND, Ore. – With one clever flick of his right foot, Maximiliano Urruti put the Portland Timbers right back in the Supporters’ Shield conversation with a 1-0 victory over the LA Galaxy in monsoon-like conditions Sunday afternoon at JELD-WEN Field.
The Timbers’ newest member scored in the 52nd minute when he brilliantly redirected a corner kick from Will Johnson past Galaxy goalkeeper Jaime Penedo. And Portland’s rejuvenated defense did the rest against a Galaxy attack headed by Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane, recording their second straight clean sheet.
With the victory, Portland remain in third place in the Western Conference with 49 points from 30 games, but they are now four points clear of the Galaxy in the standings. The Timbers trail conference leader Real Salt Lake by just two points, with second-place Seattle (50 points) set to face Eastern Conference leader New York Red Bulls (51 points) later Sunday.
After winning three straight MLS matches to close the month of August, the Galaxy are now winless in their last four league games.
The match was not without controversy in the dying minutes, when an apparent header goal by Keane off a Donovan free kick in the first minute of stoppage time was ruled offside, leading to vehement objections by Keane and Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena.
The goal by Urruti was his first in a Timbers uniform after being acquired less than three weeks ago in a trade with Toronto FC. He came off to resounding cheers in the 72nd minute as he was replaced by former starter Ryan Johnson.
Donovan, who was questionable leading up to the match due to an ankle injury, made the start for LA after missing his team's last two games. But he was rendered relatively ineffective by Portland center backs Mamadou “Futty” Danso and Pa Modou Kah, who prevented the forward from registering a single shot, while Keane was limited to just one shot.
The Galaxy saw the best of the chances in the first half, but both teams' high pressure, coupled with the sloppy conditions, led to an overall choppy first 45 minutes.
The visitors got a good look at the goal right off the bat, when a Darlington Nagbe giveaway at midfield in the fifth minute led to an open shot for Gyasi Zardes that required a diving save from Timbers goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts.
LA nearly struck in the 32nd minute when Zardes uncorked a long shot form the left corner of the box, but Ricketts was there again for another diving save.
Portland got their best look at a first-half goal in the 37th minute when Diego Valeri employed some nifty footwork to get free in the penalty area, but his shot sailed wide.
Portland return to action, in another big conference showdown, when they hit the road on Sunday against Cascadia rivals Vancouver Whitecaps. The Galaxy are also back in action Sunday when they take on Chivas USA at StubHub Center.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Diego Chara||His defensive work was especially valuable vs. LA, helping to limit Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane to one shot on goal.|
|2||Max Urruti||All alone against the entire LA back line, the Argentine didn't despair, deciding the game with a classy touch on his first MLS goal.|
|3||Kofi Opare||In only his second career MLS start, Bruce Arena's gamble pays off. The centerback was aggressive and poised in difficult conditions.|