The Portland Timbers have matched a club record and continue to fly up the Western Conference table.
On Saturday night at Providence Park, the Timbers rode a pair of penalty kick conversions from Diego Valeri and Dairon Asprilla and a late goal from David Guzman to a 3-0 victory over the visiting Philadelphia Union.
The Timbers are now unbeaten in their last 15 games, matching a club record and inching closer to the all-time league record of 19.
With a big U.S. Open Cup semifinal game vs. the Chicago Fire looming, Union head coach Jim Curtin opted not to start about half of his regular starters. But the Union still controlled possession in the first half and forced Timbers goalkeeper Jeff Attinella into a couple of tough saves just after halftime, before Fabinho was whistled for taking down Alvas Powell in the box to set up the first PK.
In the 83rd minute, it was Valeri who drew the penalty with Warren Creavalle clipping him from behind and Apsrilla beating Union goalkeeper Andre Blake, even though Blake got a hand on the PK attempt. Guzman put a cherry on top of the victory with an 87th-minute header on a feed from Valeri.
- THE BIG PICTURE: The hottest team in MLS got even hotter, vaulting into second place in the Western Conference with 37 points. Can they set a new club record and go unbeaten in 16 straight when they host Vancouver next week? The Union — who probably didn’t expect to get three points on the other side of the country while resting several starters — will now turn their attention to trying to get to their third U.S. Open Cup final in five years.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Before the first penalty call, the Union were sniffing an upset and road point. But Valeri made sure to crush those dreams with a clever PK down the middle.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Valeri scored the first PK, set up the second one and then assisted the third goal — all after halftime. Not a bad night for the Timbers maestro.