Portland earns first win of season, ending FC Dallas’ undefeated streak

portland-timbers

FC Dallas arrived in Portland Saturday night with the best record in MLS (3 wins, 1 draw).  Dallas has never won in Portland however, and that streak continued as the Timbers felled Dallas 3-1 in an overall fast, physical battle between the Western Conference rivals.

After a relatively lifeless opening 20 minutes, the Timbers jump-started the clash in the 23rd minute when center back Nat Borchers headed in an uncontested corner kick from Jorge Villafana.  The consistently stingy FC Dallas defense (who had only allowed one goal this season entering last night’s match) uncharacteristically allowed the unmarked Borchers to get a free header on the back post.

FC Dallas did not take long to respond, however, as Michel’s corner kick in the 30th minute found Atiba Harris who nodded the ball down for the onrushing Tesho Akindele who smashed in his second goal of the season to even the score at 1-1.

The two goals ignited physically aggressive play from both sides that remained for the duration of the match.  Portland’s Darlington Nagbe looked dangerous throughout the first half, mis-hitting a shot just before halftime that was a big chance for Portland to snag the lead.  The Timbers successfully neutralized FC Dallas winger Fabian Castillo in the first half, as he couldn’t find as much time on the ball as he frequently enjoys.

Though the physical scrap intensified in the second half, both sides found several scoring opportunities.  Portland made it 2-1 in the 63rd minute when substitute forward Dairon Asprilla’s cross from the right found Maximiliano Urruti just off the right post where he deflected in the goal from a seemingly impossible angle.

FC Dallas brought on veteran striker Blas Perez (62’) and eventually their new Colombian winger Michael Barrios (87’) but couldn’t muster very much attacking consistency.  Dallas’ best chance to tie the game came in the 85th minute from another Michel corner kick.  Michel’s initial ball was cleared back to him, so he launched it back into the fray where Zach Loyd’s lunging header put the ball on target, but Timbers’ goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey finger-tipped it off the crossbar.

Michael Barrios’ first touch of the game was a turnover in the center circle, which Portland’s Fanendo Adi pounced on, sliding the ball forward to Diego Chara who raced toward a 1 v. 1 encounter with goalkeeper Chris Seitz.  Chara neatly slipped the ball past Seitz’s left-hand side to make it 3-1 and seal Portland’s first win of the season.

Immediately after the match’s conclusion, a bizarre encounter between the two head coaches marred the hard-fought game.  As the Timbers’ Caleb Porter approached FC Dallas’ Oscar Pareja for the customary handshake, Pareja appeared to offer Porter a tissue.  Porter accepted the tissue then immediately flicked it back toward Pareja, apparently insulted by something Pareja said.  Porter walked away and an agitated Pareja started toward him before assistant coaches from both sides intervened.  The MLS Disciplinary Committee will undoubtedly take a closer look at this thoroughly unprofessional end to an otherwise entertaining match.

FC Dallas falls to second place in the Western Conference with 10 points, behind Vancouver with 12 points.  Dallas’ next match is at home against Colorado on Friday, April 10.  Portland sits in fourth place in the West with six points.  The Timbers’ next match is also at home next Sunday, April 12 against Orlando.

 

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