UPDATE: The Timbers dominated Chivas USA in every facet of the game to run away with a 3-0 victory on Sunday afternoon. Undefeated in nine straight, Portland sits all alone in second place in the Western Conference.
That's right, a team that only a mother could love last season is looking like a serious contender 11 games into its new era. And according to coach Caleb Porter, the Timbers are "just scratching the surface" on the possibilities.
"We're not where we want to be yet, which is what makes it scary," Porter said. "We can be even better."
Wallace—blossoming before our very eyes in the first-year coach's system—scored in the 34th minute of a first half owned by Portland. But they weren't done.
"As soon as came into the locker room, coach said it himself," said defender Andrew Jean-Baptiste. "He wanted two more goals."
And he got 'em. Diego Valeri scored in the 70th minute, and just for good measure (and perhaps because the Timbers aren't home again until June 15) Capt. Will Johnson netted another in stoppage time.
"We have a good group and we have good chemistry," Wallace said. "We're all flowing right now. The thing about this group is we like winning. It just shows on the field."
It was certainly a beautiful Mother-lovin' afternoon in Goose Hollow for Timbers fans. So put those flowers in a vase and click past the jump for FULL UNCUT video of Porter's postgame presser and more.
PORTER'S POSTGAME PRESSER:
Portland has solidified itself as Major League Soccer's pleasant surprise of the early season, playing "Porterball" to perfection and finally giving the most rabid fans in North American sports something worth screaming about. What's more, all your mom's favorite Timbers are having career years. That Rodney Wallace is not only playing well, he's as handsome as ever. Darlington Nagbe? More like 'Dordable Nagbe. And who could forget the ever-strapping Donovan Ricketts and his big, strong hands? So strong. Oh, and that Caleb Porter is such a sharp dresser!
Add it all up, and the Timbers are unbeaten in their last eight matches and stand pat as the last undefeated road team in Major League Soccer this season. While Portland's possession and pass-percentage stats have dipped slightly in its last two matches, PTFC is clearly a confident bunch heading into this afternoon's match with Chivas USA.
“I think we’re hungry to score goals,” said Timbers defender Michael Harrington (If you're hungry, then have another plate, sweetie!). “We’re just excited to get at [Chivas] and try to put three or four up against this team.”
That'd hardly be a shock. The Goats have been inconsistent at best this season and roll into The Jelly four matches removed from their last victory. Chivas USA will be without midfielder Carlos Alvarez and goalkeeper Dan Kennedy, both of whom are on timeout for bad behavior during the Goats' ugly 4-0 loss vs. Sporting KC last week. And while they've shown a touch of resilience following previous blowouts, Chivas' defense has been rather porous of late.
The Goats are clearly the underdogs, something midfielder Eric Avila said is no problem—as long as Chivas USA comes out strong against a Portland club still bitter from a what-coulda-been midweek draw with FC Dallas.
"It's always fun playing at Portland, the atmosphere is fantastic," Avila said. "The crowd is going to be very excited and fast-going, so we need to try and slow that down just a bit."
Chivas USA (3-4-2, 11 pts)—Patrick McLain in goal. Joaquin Velazquez, Carlos Borja and (former Timber) Steve Purdy on defense. Edgar Mejia, Eric Avila, Mario de Luna, Marvin Iraheta and Josue Soto at midfield. Giovani Casillas and Tristan Bowen up front.
Rounding out the 18: Martin Ponce, Jorge Villafina, Walter Vilchez, Jose Manuel Rivera, Jose Correa, Bobby Burling, Brad Stuver.
Portland Timbers (3-1-6, 15 pts)—Donovan Ricketts in goal. Jack Jewsbury, Andrew Jean-Baptiste, Futty Danso and Michael Harrington on defense. Diego Chara, Diego Valeri and Will Johnson at midfield. Darlington Nagbe, Ryan Johnson and Rodney Wallace up front.
Rounding out the 18: Jake Gleeson, Ryan Miller, Ben Zemanski, Kalif Alhassan, Sal Zizzo, Frederic Piquionne, Jose Valencia.
PRESS BOX MENU: Bacon-wrapped meatloaf, buffalo wings, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, corn and peas, rolls and breadsticks, chips, spinach salad.
PREGAME: It appears as if Timbers Army has some sort of display up its collective sleeve—sections 203-208 are separated by colors of the rainbow in honor of International Day Against Homophobia, which is May 17.
Indeed, there are red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple stripes across the North End, with the message: "Pride not Prejudice." A banner is unrolled on the main capo stand that reads: "Football fans against homophobia" and features a couple of gentlemen smooching.
Reminder: Chivas won all three meetings between these clubs last year. If I were a betting man (which I most certainly am) I don't see a repeat of that feat in 2013.
FIRST HALF: Timbers headed toward the South goal. Here we go!
2nd—Nice opportunity for Portland after Jewsbury beats McLain to the ball int he box and lobs one backward for Will Johnson. He fires, but it's high and over the bar.
3rd—Chara took a knock and stays down for a couple minutes. No foul called and he's back to his feet. Early gamesmanship perhaps by Diego as Chivas tries to establish some physical play early.
6th—Ryan Johnson runs one down into into the Southeast end and earns the match's first corner. Valeri sends it in, but it's low and immediately cleared out by Soto.
9th—Nagbe with a steal at midfield and looks for Wallace up the middle. He gets a touch but goes down—no call. Porter comes out with arms stretched looking for a whistle, but the official isn't hearing it.
10th—A near-goal for Portland as Harrington chips one in toward Valeri, who heads one on-goal. McLain with a fantastic save and the Timbers will have a corner kick. Nothing doing, as Chivas quickly heads it away. Portland looking dangerous in the early going here.
13th—Valeri with a nice turn and chips one ahead for Futty, who pops one ahead and into the goal before being leveled by McLain. Futty was well offside there, so no goal. In any case, Portland looks like they're going to be a lot to handle this afternoon.
15th—Timbers with an advantage here as Mejia gets attended to for a bloody lip. He's yelling at the official on the sideline while action continues.
20th—Timbers earn another corner after Chara weaves his way through the middle and plays a great ball ahead to Ryan Johnson. He tries to chip it toward the center, but Purdy knocks it over the line. Another dangerous counter-attack by Portland.
22nd—Chivas with a free kick from about 40 yards out. It's sent in low but knocked up in the air, and Ricketts comes out for it before colliding with de Luna. It's a foul on the latter, and a goal kick for Portland.
25th—Nagbe finds Jewsbury right near the goal line, and Jack fires a screaming cross to Ryan Johnson right in front. Not sure if he even saw it, but the ball deflects off Johnson and right to McLain. On the counter, Jean-Baptiste and Bowen both go down in the Timbers' end and play pauses while the trainers come out.
28th—Timbers owning possession and getting their share of near-opportunities here. They look much more dangerous than Chivas at this point, but the Goats' defense is hanging in there.
30th—Futty with a nice ball ahead to Johnson, who crosses toward Valeri. It's covered, but bounces right to Wallace, who gathers and fires, but his shot sails on him a bit. All Timbers offensively at this point.
32nd—Johnson with a great ball ahead to Nagbe, who finds Valeri at the top of the box. A beautiful turn and shot by Valeri, and it's OFF THE CROSSBAR! Another near-goal for Portland set up by some quick passing. This game has been one-sided so far—will the Timbers be rewarded before half?
34th—TIMBERS GOAL After a Chivas corner is headed down by Valezquez and into the gut of Ricketts, the big keeper throws an outlet pass to lead the break. It eventually finds an on-side Wallace, who shows a beautiful left-footed touch to lob it over a charging McLain. Timbers lead 1-0 and Wallace continues to play out of his mind.
37th—Timbers nearly tack on another one after Valeri sends it in for a diving Futty. He heads it strongly, but it's over the crossbar.
39th—Portland getting some nice bounces here as Will Johnson with a good little touch ahead to Valeri. He winds up and fires just outside the box, but his scorcher is handled by McLain.
40th—Valeri sends a corner kick in toward Jean-Baptiste, but his header is over the bar.
41st—Nagbe aggressively spins and drives ahead to earn a corner kick on a 1-on-2 situation. Valeri sends it well over the pile, no trouble for Chivas.
43rd—Another corner for Portland after Johnson drives and shoots toward the left of the goal. Valeri sends it in far-post, and Wallace leaps to get a head on it, but he's called for a foul.
44th—Soto with a long diagonal ball into the box that Harrington knocks over the line and out of Ricketts' range. Corner sent in long for Purdy, who heads it strong, but again right at Ricketts. Good chance there for the Goats, but Ricketts is there to reach and snag it amid traffic.
Two minutes of stoppage ... Harrington plays a long diagonal ball for Jewsbury, who can't quite catch up to it before it crosses the end line ... Valeri with a nice touch to play one ahead to Jewsbury. He attempts a cross but it's knocked over the end line for another Timbers corner... Valeri sends it in high and the Johnsons go back-and-forth with it, Ryan Johnson crosses toward Wallace, but Bowen clears.
HALFTIME: Timbers lead 1-0 after thoroughly dominating the first 45 minutes. Not even close. This one has all the makings of a second straight beatdown for Chivas USA, whose offense managed just two shots in the first half. Portland, meanwhile, maintained 67% possession, out-cornered CUSA 8-2 and fired 12 shots—four on-target. Harrington's "three or foul" goal prediction may have been bold, but it's looking pretty likely at this point.
SECOND HALF: Timbers headed toward the North End. This one looks like it might get out of hand. Here we go... One sub for Chivas: Correa for Casillas.
47th—A couple miscues as Valeri looks for Johnson up the middle, but he's running up the left.
48th—Chara with a head of steam heading into the attacking third. He draws a foul on Soto and it'll be a free kick from just inside the corner spot.
49th—Valeri sends it in long, but it's over the head of a leaping Ryan Johnson. Wallace somehow keeps it in bounds and Wallace is called for a foul. Valeri knocks one away in frustration and Purdy and Valeri have words.
50th—Bowen gets one ahead and works his way around Harrington. He tries a cross but nukes it well into the crowd.
51st—Valeri gets through traffic and after Jewsbury wins one back, he plays one ahead to Ryan Johnson... but just long. Timbers aggression hasn't waned at all as they continue to all but dominate this one.
54th—Avila's shot in the box is blocked and after Chivas attempts another cross, Ricketts rises to grab it out of the air.
56th—Johnson sends in a cross that's deflected and McLain gives chase. Chara with a little shove on Soto and they'll call him for a foul.
58th—Some more great ball movement culminates in Chara trying to bend in for Valeri, but it's just a bit too strong. McLain comes out and grabs it.
59th—Another sub for Chivas, as Ponce comes in for Iraheta. They have a corner kick that's played back. It's eventually sent in by Avila, who finds Purdy rising. His header is off the mark, and it'll be a goal kick for the Timbers.
62nd—Jean-Baptiste sends one in from deep for Ryan Johnson, but McLain is there to grab it. Chivas making a bit more hay offensively, as Portland's offensive flow has been thrown off a bit these last 10 minutes.
63nd—Chara reverse passes for Johnson, who lobs one ahead to Wallace. He lets it take a bounce and blasts it near-post, but McLain is there to knock it away. Corner coming.
64th—Valeri goes far post and Jean-Baptiste comes diving in for a header, but it's wide. No whistle, and Timbers Army sounds like they wanted a penalty called.
65th—Final sub for Chivas: Rivera is on for Bowen.
69th—Goats are pressing a bit here and showing something that at least resembles an attack. Portland defense holding, firm, however,
70th—TIMBERS GOAL Johnson uses his physicality to win a ball and find Nagbe, who plays to Wallace at the top of the box. He spins and knocks a crafty little pass to Valeri, who's all alone in front. Valeri beats McLain, and it's 2-0 Timbers.
71st—Timbers will bring in Alhassan for Nagbe, who looked a little banged up as he walked off.
73rd—Portland nearly gets another one as he drives and crosses in front for Futty, who heads it juuuuuuuuuust over the bar. This one nearly turned into a laugher. Another sub coming for Portland—it'll be Zemanski in for Jewsbury.
76th—Chivas taking some more chances and showing a bit more fluidity on the attack. They do well to get it into Portland's box, but Correa is called for a clear handball.
78th—A bit of a defensive breakdown for Portland, which lets Ponce dribble down the end line and fire a shot toward Ricketts. The big man gets a paw on it, and Jean-Baptiste will clear. Nothing overly scary there, but a bit too close for comfort for the Timbers defense in the late stages here.
81st—Avila earns a free kick after knocking one off Will Johnson. Mejia sends it in low and left, and Jean-Baptiste is there to strongly headed away.
83rd—Final sub for Portland: Piquionne will come on for Harrington. A forward for a defender, but more accurately a forward for a guy who was getting close a yellow card.
86th—Wallace and de Luna get tangled up a bit off the field near midfield. The ballboy even gets involved: He holds the ball a bit longer than de Luna wants and gets a little shove. Not cool, says Timbers assistant Sean McAuley, who gives de Luna a piece of his mind. The ref gives de Luna a yellow card for generally being a jerk to a little kid.
88th—Zemanski comes streaking down the right side and sends a cross in for Piquionne, but it's just long.
Three minutes of stoppage ... Ryan Johnson gets twisted around and taken to the turf, but he appears OK...After dribbling right out of bounds in front of the bench, Piquionne gets into the 18 and slides a pass in front for Will Johnson, who defends it well enough to knock it over the line. Timbers will have a corner here, and it's icing on the cake. TIMBERS GOAL! Will Johnson takes a short corner right along the top of the box and fires a curler past a diving McLain. Complete breakdown by the Chivas defense, who looked like they were happy to jog this one out. Timbers lead 3-0 and the crowd loves it. Three points were well in hand, but that one was for the North End, which gives their Captain some love.
FULL TIME: Timbers win, 3-0. A dominant performance for Portland, which vaults into second place in the Western Conference.
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