PORTLAND, Ore. – Having not scored a goal in more than a month, the Portland Timbers had one thing on their minds Sunday afternoon at JELD-WEN Field.
And they got exactly what they needed with an Eric Brunner strike in the 20th minute and an own goal off the foot of Chicago’s Logan Pause in a 2-1 win over the Fire.
The Brunner finish ended the Timbers’ streak of 448 minutes without a goal, and the result snapped a three-game winless streak. It also vaulted the Timbers (3-5-3) ahead of the struggling LA Galaxy in the standings, dropping the defending MLS champs into the last spot in the Western Conference.
A goal by Jalil Anibaba – which evened things at 1-1 late in the first half – wasn’t enough for Chicago (4-3-3), who fell for the first time in three games and continued their struggles against the Timbers. The Fire are now 0-3 all-time against Portland, including two losses in the Rose City.
Portland’s four-game goalless streak was mercifully ended following a Franck Songo’o corner kick to the far post. Defender Hanyer Mosquera headed the high-arching service into the area, where Kris Boyd’s bicycle kick attempt fell to Brunner’s feet for the right-footed goal.
It was the Timbers’ first tally since the 23rd minute of their 3-1 loss to the L.A. Galaxy on April 14. The Timbers beat Sporting Kansas City 1-0 on April 21, but that result came courtesy of SKC own goal.
Chicago nearly evened things in the 35th minute off a corner of their own when a blast by Pavel Pardo was knocked away by a diving Troy Perkins.
The Fire attack persisted and eventually found the back of the net when Marco Pappa intercepted an ineffective clearance from Portland defender Steven Smith and found Anibaba free in the penalty area right of the goal. The second-year defender controlled, spun and fired a right-footed shot to the far corner past a diving Perkins for his first goal of the season.
Portland found pay dirt again off a corner kick in the 52nd minute, when halftime substitution Sal Zizzo’s offering to the near post was headed on by Boyd and knocked into the back of the net by Pause.
Portland’s defense was able to hold the Fire to just one shot – a blocked attempt by Pardo – in the final 10 minutes.
Portland return to JELD-WEN Field on Wednesday for a friendly against La Liga’s Valencia CF, then play host to Vancouver on Saturday in their first Cascadia match of the year.
Chicago are back in action on Wednesday at Toyota Park against Dallas.
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Eric Brunner||Portland's big defender snapped a pesky goal streak, and defensively kept the Timbers out of trouble late.|
|2||Hanyer Mosquera||Physical and unintimidated, Mosquera did his part to shut down the Fire's speedy presence up top.|
|3||Marco Pappa||Pappa was pesky most of the night, and set up the club's only goal. Dangerous at almost every touch.|