Timbers dominate Dynamo to post first win of 2013

RyanJohnson (PortlandTimbers)


PORTLAND, Ore.– The Timbers needed a win. And despite two major first-half injuries and taking on one of the hottest teams in MLS, a victory is exactly what they delivered Saturday night.

Led by two Ryan Johnson goals, and the outstanding play of their midfield, the Portland Timbers dominated the second half and collected their first win of the season, defeating the Houston Dynamo, 2-0 at a cold and rainy Jeld-Wen Field.

After a first half that saw them lose two players to injury, the Timbers played some of their best soccer of the season in the final 45 minutes. Johnson’s two goals came as a result of attacking play that left the Dynamo with little chance of stopping Portland’s relentless possession game.

Saturday’s win provided a much needed boost to the Timbers, who needed a win to gain belief in the system installed by Caleb Porter, who recorded his first victory as a professional head coach on Saturday night.

“It’s important to get results for the players to realize what they’re capable of doing and how powerful this way of playing can be,” said Porter. “This was a big step in the right direction. That was that breakthrough I’ve been looking for.”

After conceding first in every match this season, the Timbers were able to get on the board first when Johnson got the Timbers on the board ten minutes into the second half. Johnson’s goal gave the Timbers their first lead of the season and also provided a shot in the arm to Portland.

Johnson’s goal caused a snowball effect that led to even more possession and pressing play from Portland.

“It helped us get our second and we could’ve had the third and fourth too,” the Jamaican International said.

For the last three weeks, Porter had been stressing how well the Timbers could play once they had a lead to play with. And his prediction proved true.

“I think you saw tonight what can happen when we get up on teams,” Porter said.

The presence of new starter Rodney Wallace and an attacking Darlington Nagbe provided a force to be reckoned with for the Timbers. In addition, Will Johnson and Diego Chara were all over the pitch and combined for 100 successful passes. Postmatch, Porter called the play of his attacking players “fantastic.”

Despite losing David Horst and Diego Valeri to injuries in the first 30 minutes of the match, Portland was able to maintain its composure and was able to find holes amid the Dynamo’s back-line. First-half substitutes, Andrew Jean-Baptiste and Kalif Alhassan stepped in as injury replacements and filled in admirably.

“You got to give a lot of credit to those guys that came in. We didn’t miss a beat,” Will Johnson said after the match.

The inclusion of Alhassan also forced the Timbers to change from a 4-3-3 formation to a 4-4-2 with Nagbe being paired at forward with Ryan Johnson. Nagbe played his best soccer of the short season and was able to provide tons of space for his forward partner.

While the Dynamo were able to exert themselves physically in the first half, the sloppy playing conditions and relentless Portland attack seemed to overrun them during the second half. On the other end of the pitch, Houston were missing two key starters, in Will Bruin and Boniek Garcia.

Houston came into the game on a three-game winning streak and almost took a lead when Cam Weaver was left open six yards from goal midway through the first half. However, he sent his shot over the bar and Houston would never have another good chance to score.

Weaver, who was making his first start of the season, seemed to struggle against Mikael Silvestre, who played his best game since coming to the MLS in the offseason. Weaver’s strike partner Giles Barnes couldn’t do much better and ended up with more offsides (2) than shots (1).

The Dynamo were without two key attacking players in injured starters Will Bruin and Oscar Boniek Garcia.

Here are the match highlights:

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31 Responses to Timbers dominate Dynamo to post first win of 2013

  1. Eric says:

    Ives called it! Im starting to catch on 😉

  2. petedx says:

    So this was kind of minor in the scheme of the game, but what was up with Silvestre getting a yellow card for that tackle right before halftime? It seemed like a clean tackle, there was no foul called, play continued without advantage being played, and when play stopped 2 minutes later Silvestre got a yellow card.

    • Chance says:

      That was Salazar being terrible at his job. No cards on the violent fouls against Valeri and Rickets, but a non foul gets a yellow. He’s one of the worst refs in the world and basically never has control of games he’s tasked with officiating.

      • Erik says:

        Hardly a violent foul (in fact, not a foul) on Ricketts. In fact, a very smart play on Weaver’s part. Should have been a foul on the elbow to Valeri and could have been a yellow but that’s hit and miss depending on the night. Should not have been a card on Silvestre but just be happy Salazar didn’t effect the outcome of the game for once.

        • Chance says:

          Weaver went at Rickets’ legs. He was not going for the ball. That was simply taking out an exposed keeper. It should have been a yellow.

    • sagcat says:

      It was especially puzzling when considered in combination with Jermaine Taylor’s reckless/intentional flying elbow to the head of Diego Valeri which earned Taylor a very stern talking to from Salazar. Taylor is an experienced international, so we can rule out the “amateur hack” explanation. He successfully knocked Valeri out, both literally and then from the game, possibly longer. But he suffered the indignity of Salazar telling him not to do it again in his serious voice, so I guess that’s punishment enough.

      • Hogatroge says:

        Dynamo fan here. I doubt Taylor meant to injure Valeri, but I’m sure he put his arms out to get a physical advantage.

        Still, should have been a yellow.

  3. Old School says:

    “I think we proved when we’re on our game, we’re one of the best clubs in the world,” said a modest Caleb Porter after the match.

    • Bakasama says:

      Funny…. I was there and didn’t hear that quote from him at all. #strawman

      • Old School says:

        He addressed the fans after the game? “Funny”, I thought they only address the media.

        If you took my quote seriously, that truly is “funny”.

  4. TomG says:

    Can’t believe they did all this without Valeri. As talented as he is, maybe he dominates the ball too much for Caleb’s system which is predicated on quick, unselfish passing?

    • TomG says:

      Please check moderation filter and fix. I can’t even begin to imagine what could possibly be triggering moderation here.

      • Ives Galarcep says:

        Wish we could fix it but the filter caught the word passing, well, because of a word that can be found in it. It’s unfortunate, and something we’re working on, but there is a method to the madness.

        • TomG says:

          Thanks for the reassurances, Ives. I appreciate you letting us know that you’re working on it. I will avoid using the word passing (though, wow, tough word to filter on a soccer blog ;)). Is there any way you can post a list of things to avoid in order to miss tripping the filter?

          • TomG says:

            Yeah, and I just used the word already. Ha! This is going to be tough.

          • Ives Galarcep says:

            Still trying to figure out just what those things are, but at this point what we will try to do is clear as many moderated comments as possible, as quickly as possible, but sometimes nobody is around to do it.

      • OPMG says:

        When are we going to stop commenting on moderation? We get it; it mildly inconveniences you as you freely read and comment on the site. Spend some time with the trolls on other soccer blogs without moderation and you’ll appreciate the effort that goes into making this an open forum for civil discussion

        • Old School says:

          It doesn’t mitigate trolling, though. So, that point is moot.

          There’s always been a higher quality of poster on SBI. That isn’t a result of the new moderation system by the website.

          I imagine it’ll continue to be commented on, as long as it’s in place. There’s nothing wrong with that.

    • shane says:

      Valeri does indeed seem talented but if you look at the chalkboard stats for passing and possesion his numbers usually cant compare with Nagbe, Johnson and Portland’s other MFs. I know stats dont tell the whole story, but nevertheless because of them I was not surprised with how well they did without Valeri

  5. The Imperative Voice says:

    Every so often Houston has one of these nights because the fullbacks are mediocre defenders picked for hustling effort and the CBs, while strong in the air and good at man marking, are not mobile. Flawed defense. Kinnear just doesn’t seem to notice we’ve not won silverware since Boswell came to town and Ashe got moved back.

    I think this was also a night where the lack of quality forward depth showed. Bruin is out. It’s been years since Weaver scored a league goal, and Barnes is playing out of position. Kinnear went low risk on re-signing Ching and Weaver and trading for Cummings but has in turn received little reward. We have midfield quality just not enough strikers to finish what we create.

    The wet turf surface also seemed to negate our methodical offensive approach, and contributed to Horst’s injury.

    • Twomilerule says:

      The vital importance your imperative is totally missing on is regardless of coaching or personal the Timbers imposed their play the entire match, especially in the second half!

      • The Imperative Voice says:

        Cam Weaver’s last MLS goal was in May 2011, nearly two years ago. When he plays, he is soooooooooo slow that we struggle to get the ball upfield. So in Bruin’s absence we start him plus a midfielder Barnes? Probably because the coach hasn’t rounded up a worthwhile bunch of Fs to give him much choice.

        And on the two goals it’s the slow Boswell getting beat.

        So, all due respect to “dominated,” but oftentimes there is a personnel or tactical reason “why.” Portland is not inherently better — Houston 3rd E, Portland 7W — but Houston is struggling for forward goals right now — which might have to do with some personnel decisions we made — and every so often our goofy defense gets burned for speed. My two cents, if we had a frontline, Portland was playing subs back there and has hardly been airtight. But we’re playing a reserve team set of forwards in terms of quality.

    • Hogatroge says:

      There are no excuses. Portland played in the same conditions.

      Also, Portland’s just a better team this year in past years, and this was in no way a guaranteed win for Houston. Nobody expected the Dynamo to suck that bad, though, even if the loss was in the cards.

  6. G. Bean says:

    One week the Dynamo look like the best team in the league, and then turn around the next week and look terrible. They usually pull it together later in the season, but this time of year can be painful to watch.

    • AzTeXan says:

      I don’t condone gambling, especially on soccer, but the Dynamo didn’t play Bruin or OBG. I think it’s fair to say that a weakened Dynamo side on the road is a good value bet.

    • Ives Galarcep says:

      Two key starters missing plus the fact they’re much better at home than on the road. Portland beating them shouldn’t have been a huge surprise, though Houston played much worse than most would have expected.

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      We are very thin after Bruin at F and Kinnear foolishly left Bruin in to get hurt in garbage time of the SJ game. Bruin was just getting back off a hammy, we were up 2-0, and he tried to play him 90. When we play Weaver the attack becomes glacial and we struggle to clear our zone; Ching is apparently not healthy enough anymore to start; Cummings is still working off knee knack; Carr is out for a knee; Johnson is “Too Rookie.”

      My complaint is several of those are self-inflicted veteran signings.

      And then I think some faster teams match up better with our slow CBs than others. If you come at us fast like Vancouver or Portland, Boswell can’t keep up. But if you play methodical like SJ did, or try and hit crosses all night, you play to our strengths. That’s why we seem to have a good team defense many nights and in the early playoffs but then have a mediocre GA over a season and a few nights like last night every year (LA in the final, etc.).

      So, with Bruin one week we can look one way, with Weaver the next, the opposite.

      I know the stereotype is the Dynamo fix themselves in the summer but they probably have $200K tied up in recently re-signed Ching and Weaver, who aren’t going to get the job done, and can’t be cut under the CBA; they are locked into Cummings and Carr under the CBA who are knee injury dice rolls; and the only other choices after them are Barnes, a middie, and Johnson, a draft pick. Maybe we can trade someone and get someone new in, but unlike previous years there are not foreigners or easy scapegoats to use to create summer caproom. I think if we want to keep up with LA we need some work but I’ll be interested to see who we can move to do the usual adjustment…..and keep in mind this is a quali & Gold Cup year where things may be thrown off by callups that will last weeks.

      • Rowsdower says:

        I am Ok with the foward situation but I think the D really needs to get looked at. With the midfield (Moffat was especially bad) getting totally overrun, Portland just toyed with our slow CB’s.. this is something that really needs to be addressed this summer. As for the backs, Ashe was decent but they worked Sarkodie over and over. Driver didn’t help him.. I think he can play on the right for 20 min but he is not a right winger.

  7. *rey says:

    Imperative voice: great comments. please come back to BS! We need your insighful analises.