PORTLAND – The Timbers just keep on rolling. Their 3-0 victory over the Colorado Rapids on Sunday afternoon moved them to the top of the table in the Western Conference and pushed their club record unbeaten streak to 15 straight games.
Portland has been riding high recently as they are making strides in the US Open Cup and have shot up to the number one spot in the current MLS Power Rankings for the first time in club history. Head coach Caleb Porter has turned the once perennial cellar dwellers into the most impressive team in the league in 2013 and after a midweek draw with the LA Galaxy; the Timbers were hungry for three points. They welcomed seventh place Colorado into Jeld-Wen Field on Sunday and quickly showed why they are the talk of MLS world.
The match started out franticly as both sides had already played two matches in the week and were a bit lackadaisical with their passes. Turnovers marred the first ten minutes but the home side was able to gain the advantage early on and muster the only chances on net.
The Timbers began to maintain the lion’s share of possession and pressure the already lackluster Colorado defense as the game pressed on. In the 11th minute Will Johnson was fouled close to the box and quickly took the kick up the line to a streaking Rodney Wallace. The midfielder a cross into the box and Frederic Piquionne headed the ball past Rapids keeper Clint Irwin for his first goal of the MLS season. The goal was a microcosm of the changes under Porter as the midfield fluidity was clear from the first pass from Johnson. The Timbers Army erupted with noise as Portland took the 1-0 lead just as the rain started to fall on the pitch.
After the Timbers gained the lead, they were able to continue their dominant pace, as the Rapids seemed lost against the free-flowing Portland midfield. The score line remained the same late into the half before Johnson made the highlight reel for the weeks to come. Wallace received a long goal kick from Donovan Ricketts at the top of the box and settled the ball while maneuvering around the Rapid defense. As he bought time, Johnson came racing down the pitch and eventually received a perfect lead ball as he entered the box. The midfielder volleyed the ball through the Colorado backline and blasted it into the back of the net for his sixth goal of the season. The Timbers took the confident two-goal lead into halftime after the impressive first half.
The closest the Rapids would get to the scoreboard was early in the second half when forward Deshorn Brown rallied around the Portland defense and shot a cross into midfielder Nick LaBrocca who rifled the ball towards net. The ball got past Ricketts but defender Jack Jewsbury was there to clear the shot off the line to save the clean sheet. Portland would put the nail in the coffin in the 84th minute as Wallace recorded his third assist on the day on a perfect pass to forward Ryan Johnson. The 3-0 win marked the Timbers 15th straight unbeaten match and Ricketts’ fourth straight clean sheet as the keeper continues to impress this season. The win moved Portland up to 30 points on the year and into a tie for first place in the Western Conference with Real Salt Lake.
The win was quite impressive as the Timbers played one of their worst games of the season. They were outshot 18-6 on the afternoon and failed to gain the majority of the possession but still lit up the scoreboard while playing staunch defense. The true test of a team is the ability to gain a victory while playing at far less than best and with the Portland performance on Sunday they add yet another aspect to their dream season.
The Timbers will next hit the pitch against second place FC Dallas on Wednesday night at 6 pm in the Lonestar state.