By MIKE DONOVAN
Prior to Saturday night’s game against the Houston Dynamo, Ryan Johnson had played 156 games in MLS. And despite scoring 28 times in his professional career, he had never scored multiple goals in the same game.
That all changed on the wet turf of Jeld-Wen Field.
Johnson delivered the first brace of his career and gave the Timbers both goals in their 2-0 defeat of the defending Eastern Conference champions.
“He was very good. He’s a workmanlike player and he did that tonight,” Porter said. “He worked them hard running, pressing, and making things happen. He played well.”
In the offseason, Johnson was the key piece in a trade that saw Portland send the No. 3 overall pick to Toronto FC. The Jamaican international has provided the Timbers with a reliable striker since his arrival, having delivered three goals and an assist in his five games.
Johnson, however, preferred to talk about the future of the Timbers.
“We’re not too high, because we know we’re going to win a lot of games here,” Johnson said. “We just need to keep doing what we have been doing. As long as we keep doing those things, we’ll be fine.”
Here are some more Timbers notes from Saturday:
WALLACE SHINES IN START
Rodney Wallace has been a much-maligned player for Timbers fans throughout his Timbers career. However, since Caleb Porter has arrived, Wallace has provided a spark for the club in 2013, by delivering some nice play off the bench that included the 90th-minute game-tying goal against rival Seattle.
Porter rewarded Wallace’s performances and gave him a start on the wing against the Dynamo. Wallace rewarded his coach with a solid effort that saw Wallace lead all attacking players in successful passes and saw him rattle the woodwork on a 25-yard rocket.
“I’ve been patient and I was given a chance and I took advantage of it,” Wallace said.
Wallace, who has 14 caps and 3 goals for the Costa Rican national team, is enjoying his best season since coming to Portland, despite having only played 138 minutes of soccer.
Since the beginning of the preseason, a phrase has emerged to describe the type of play new head Caleb Porter wants his team to play with. And “PorterBall” was on full display during the second half Saturday.
The style, which predicates on one-touch passing, quick switches of play, and constant pressure and attacking, seemed to overrun the Dynamo.
“I thought it was a comprehensive performance on both sides of the ball. It really looked like what we want our identity to be,” Porter said.
The stats have correlated with what Porter is seeing. Portland leads the league in passes per game this season and Saturday saw them finish the game with an 83% passing accuracy. In addition, the club is currently in the top five in goals, assists, and shots.
“The stats don’t lie, we have the shots and the possession, all those little things we are at the top of the league in,” Johnson said.
Portland lost two starters in the first 30 minutes of Saturday’s game, including its offseason Designated Player signing, Diego Valeri.
Valeri took an elbow from Dynamo defender Jermaine Taylor on a 50-50 ball and was unable to continue. The Argentine International left the field with a gash on the right cheek was spitting blood as he headed towards the bench.
Referee Ricardo Salazar deemed the foul by Taylor to be “careless, but not wreckless.”
Valeri’s injury came minutes after David Horst had to replaced after sustaining a right knee injury. Horst landed awkwardly after making a challenge on Giles Barnes.
Both Barnes and Timbers goalkeeper immediately called for the Timbers trainers and Horst ended up being stretchered off the field. Horst was making just his second start since sustaining a hip injury in the preseason.