Timbers give dominating performance in MLS home-opener

On a dreary night, the Timber’s Army proudly showed up to support their team in its inaugural home game.

On a dreary night, the Timber’s Army proudly showed up to support their team in its inaugural home game. The rain was relentless and unforgiving on Thursday night, but spirits could not be broken as the Timbers rolled to a 4-2 victory over the Chicago Fire and earned their first win of the MLS season.

The atmosphere was almost indescribable at Jeld-Wen Field, as a sold out crowd gave the Timbers something to remember. The fans were given the honor of chanting the national anthem before the game, and then dropped down giant banners representing the Rose City after finishing the song. The strong introduction was not only impressive to the ESPN national TV audience watching from home, but also to the players and coaches out on the field.

“I haven’t seen an atmosphere like that in American soccer history ever,” head coach John Spencer told droppingtimber.com. “It felt like we were playing in a Champions League game.”

“It definitely gave me goose bumps,” midfielder Jeremy Hall said. “Being out on the field during warm-ups, it’s pouring rain, everybody’s already in their seats, the Timbers Army singing; it was awesome.”

The match began with both teams moving quickly. Portland took control early and in the 11th minute midfielder Jack Jewsbury sent a corner kick across the field and right in front of Timbers forward Kenny Cooper. Cooper headed the ball into the net and the crowd erupted into cheers. The spectacular play was called off after a ref found that the cross had curved too much and went out of bounds before landing in front of Cooper.

The call quieted the crowd, but only momentarily. The Timbers kept pressure on Chicago, creating turnovers and in the 29th minute the team captured their first ever goal at Jeld-Wen field. The opportunity came after forward Jorge Perlazza broke through Chicago’s backline and received a perfectly delivered lead pass from Kalif Alhassan. Perlazza was streaking towards the goalkeeper, before quickly halting, sensing the approach of Chicago players. The quick stop threw off the Fire goalkeeper, forcing him to collide with his own defender. Perlazza easily tapped in the shot to give Portland a 1-0 lead and a boost of much needed confidence.

Only eight minutes after the first goal for the Timbers, defender Rodney Wallace scored, after Chicago failed to clear a ball off a Portland corner kick. The ball was deflected initially, but Wallace was right there to clean up and take a clear strike from 25 yards out. The goal gave the Timbers a 2-0 lead, which they would take into the lockers at halftime.

The second half of the game continued exactly where the first left off, with heavy rain and aggressive offensive play from the Timbers strikers. Portland immediately pressed up the field, with Wallace getting another scoring opportunity in the 47th minute of play. Wallace took a shot from outside, with Chicago’s keeper making the save, but failing to get a handle on the ball. Perlazza swooped in and put the ball away off the deflection, pushing Portland’s lead to 3-0.

Chicago showed resiliency however, and in the 65th minute of play, Timbers’ defender Eric Brunner deflected a ball into his own goal, putting Chicago on the board with plenty of time left.

Another 15 minutes would pass before Chicago struck once again, after midfielder Marco Pappa fired a loose ball past keeper Jake Gleeson, narrowing Portland’s lead to only one goal. However, Portland would respond in the 84th minute, when a corner kick was taken by the Timbers and sent into the box. After a struggle in front of the net, Portland found the winning score, officially ruled an own-goal by the Fire’s Dasan Robinson. 

Thursday’s outcome gave Portland their first win in the MLS standings, although the Timbers were not finished with their incredible opening weekend just yet.

Only three days after defeating the Chicago Fire, Portland was able to use their home field advantage once again, as they hosted FC Dallas (1-3-1) on Sunday afternoon. Dallas had been up and down so far this season, yet managed to dismantle a Colorado team that defeated Portland in their first match as an MLS franchise. Still, Sunday proved to be a much different atmosphere, as the weather was sunny and the fans were riding the confidence from Thursday’s victory.

The Timbers dominated for the first 80 minutes of play, taking a 3-0 lead on goals from Cooper, Perlazza and Wallace. However, Dallas made a frightening two-goal resurgence, scoring two goals after the 80th minute and nearly tied the game in extra time. The late rally was not enough for Dallas though, as Portland was able to escape with a 3-2 win. The Timbers (2-2-1, seven pts) are now fourth place in the Western conference and eight place in the overall table.

Next up, the Timbers travel to Los Angeles this upcoming weekend to face a talented Galaxy squad, perhaps their toughest competition to date. Kick-off is scheduled for 5 p.m. Saturday. ?