Timbers fell Minnesota in MLS debut

Los Angeles (AFP) – The Portland Timbers handed Minnesota United FC a rude welcome to Major League Soccer with a 5-1 thrashing of the expansion side as the 2017 season kicked off.

Goals from Lawrence Olum, Fanendo Adi (2) and Diego Valeri (2) sealed all three points for the 2015 MLS Cup champions, who are desperate to atone for a disappointing defence of their title last season when they failed to reach the playoffs.

Minnesota are one of two expansion teams to join the MLS this season along with Atlanta United FC.

But the rookie club managed by former Everton striker Adrian Heath can expect a challenging first season if Friday’s display in Oregon is anything to go by.

Portland always looked in control and took the lead after only 14 minutes when veteran defender Olum hooked in a looping effort from a Valeri corner.

Valeri made it 2-0 in the 48th minute, cleverly directing his header into the far corner after fellow Argentine Sebastian Blanco whipped in a superb cross from the right flank.

Minnesota forward Christian Ramirez set up a nervous finish in the 79th minute, when he drilled home a low shot from the edge of the area to make it 2-1.

But Portland restored their two-goal cushion almost immediately, when Adi was hauled down inside the area by Minnesota defender Vadim Demidov.

Valeri stepped up to take the penalty and hit a venomous spot-kick into the side netting that gave Minnesota keeper John Alvbage no chance.

In the closing minutes Adi got on the scoresheet, picking up a perfectly weighted pass by Darlington Nagbe, rounding Alvbage and finishing for 4-1.

It got better moments later when the powerful Adi burst clear of the Minnesota defence once more and slammed his finish past Alvbage for the fifth.

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