Matchday Preview: Chivas USA vs. Portland Timbers at StubHub Center - September 14, 2013
CHIVAS USA vs PORTLAND TIMBERS
STUBHUB CENTER, Carson, Calif.
Sept. 14, 2013 (WEEK 29, MLS Game #268)
7:30 p.m. PT (ROOT SPORTS, 750 AM The Game)
Chivas USA will be looking to play spoiler in the Western Conference playoff chase when they play host to the Portland Timbers on Saturday evening at StubHub Center. Chivas have won two of their last four matches, coming off a 1-0 home victory against D.C. United, though they sit on the verge of playoff elimination. The Timbers head south needing wins to keep pace in the West; they hold the final playoff position by two points following their 4-0 home win against Toronto FC last weekend.
The Portland Timbers put an end to their two-game losing run in emphatic fashion, rolling to a 4-0 win against Toronto FC on Saturday evening at JELD-WEN Field. The Timbers are in a tie for fourth place in the Western Conference with 42 points from 27 matches.
The Timbers took the lead in the first minute of stoppage time. From a poor clearance from a free kick swung into the area, Kalif Alhassan chested down the ball and volleyed a thunderous shot past TFC goalkeeper Joe Bendik from just outside the box.
Portland then put the match away with three late goals. In the 83rd minute, substitute Diego Valeri threaded a pass to Rodney Wallace, who finished coolly past Bendik from the left side of the box.
Will Johnson then made it 3-0 in the 87th minute when he took a nice feed from forward Jose Valencia inside the area and sent a missile past Bendik.
Valencia set up the final Timbers goal in the third minute of stoppage time, setting up Valeri perfectly with a rolling cross that left the easiest of finishes with a tap-in at the back post.
Timbers head coach Caleb Porter made five changes to the team that fell to a 4-2 defeat by Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium. Milos Kocic came in between the posts for Donovan Ricketts, and Sal Zizzo, Pa Modou Kah, Will Johnson and Jose Adolfo Valencia all came into the team, in place of Rauwshan McKenzie, Ben Zemanski, Diego Valeri and Ryan Johnson.
- PORTLAND TIMBERS (4-2-3-1): Milos Kocic - Sal Zizzo, Pa Modou Kah, Andrew Jean-Baptiste, Michael Harrington - Will Johnson, Diego Chara - Darlington Nagbe (Brad Ring 90) - Kalif Alhassan (Diego Valeri 77), Jose Adolfo Valencia, Rodney Wallace.
The Timbers put an emphatic end to their losing streak after two games, the first time this season they had lost consecutive matches.
“These last several games have been tough. We’ve dealt with a lot. We’ve had a ton of guys out with injuries – we still have guys out,” said Timbers head coach Caleb Porter. “Obviously this game, we had a few guys out with injuries and some guys out on international duty, so I said to the guys that in a lot of ways it’s probably a good thing, because if we had had a ton of success in the last nine games, I’d be worried about complacency at this point. We’ve been humbled a little bit.”
The four goals scored by the Timbers was a season-high, after scoring three goals on five separate occasions this season.
“I think that we’ve been practicing our attack and a lot of our goals came from creating our own chances and making the moment count,” said Rodney Wallace. “We also have to give credit to the pressure we’re putting on teams. For example, the pressure that Diego Valeri put on the central defender to free me up and get the goal. Pressure, movement, and at the same time keeping the defenders back.”
Diego Valeri pulled into a tie for the MLS league lead with his 12th assist (with Philadelphia’s Sebastien Le Toux), and also scored his sixth goal of the season vs. Toronto FC. Valeri came off the substitutes’ bench for the final 13 minutes after taking a knock in the RSL loss.
“This system, your three center players…" Porter said. “Those players make you go, they make you tick, they allow you to control games, which is what we try to do on both sides of the ball. So I thought it was huge having them in there.”
Will Johnson also returned to the Timbers lineup after missing four matches with a shoulder injury, playing the full 90 minutes alongside Diego Chará in the center of the park. He popped up to score his seventh goal of the season, his first since June 23.
“It would be naïve to think that’s not a bit of a factor in perhaps us not performing as well as we would have liked in the last nine games,” Porter said. “I think you saw those two guys, they’re very destructive, they’re dominant. Games sometimes are won and lost in the heart of your team.”
Jose Adolfo Valencia set up the final two Portland goals, his first two MLS assists in his 16th league appearance.
Milos Kocic made his first league appearance since June 8 and recorded his fifth career shutout, against his former club. Kocic had also recorded a shutout in his last first-team appearance, a fourth-round Open Cup victory against Tampa Bay.
- “It feels weird playing against my old team, but it’s very important coming up with a win, and playing at home is always a benefit,” said Kocic. “I think time of possession was unbelievable, we held the ball very well and we came out with three points.
Chivas USA won their second match in the last four, getting the game’s lone goal for a victory against D.C. United on Sunday evening at StubHub Center. Chivas USA sit in ninth place in the Western Conference with 25 points from 28 matches.
The game's only goal came six minutes after halftime. A cross into the area wasn't cleared, eventually bounced off a pair of United players and falling into the the area where Erick Torres stabbed it past D.C. goalkeeper Bill Hamid.
Chivas USA goalkeeper Dan Kennedy made five saves for the shutout.
Chivas USA head coach José Luis Real made one change to the team that fell 1-0 to Seattle Sounders FC at CenturyLink Field. Carlos Bocanegra came back into the team in place of Mario de Luna.
- CHIVAS USA (4-4-2) Dan Kennedy - Carlos Borja, Bobby Burling, Carlos Bocanegra, Marco Delgado - Carlos Alvarez (Carlo Chueca 90), Edgar Mejia, Oswaldo Minda, Bryan de la Fuente - Julio Morales (Eric Avila 28), Erick Torres (Tristan Bowen 90).
After winning just one league game over a more than four-month span – from April 13 to Aug. 21 – Chivas USA have won twice in their last four contests.
“In my opinion, Chivas is getting better game-by-game,” said Chivas USA head coach José Luis Real. “Our team played very well on many occasions in the second half. D.C. was a very good team up to the last play of the game. With Chivas, it’s never easy. All the games for Chivas are never easy. But I’m happy because the second half was good and we won.”
Erick Torres scored his seventh goal in nine matches since joining Chivas USA. Torres has scored the last five goals Chivas has scored, over the last four matches.
“’Cubo’ is another one of the most important players for Chivas USA. He scores goals but he always works for the team. His personality and mentality is strong. He’s a very important player for Chivas,” Real said.
Real made a key tactical shift before the United match was a half-hour old, bringing on Eric Avila in place of Julio Morales. Avila moved to the right side of midfield, with Carlos Alvarez moving to the center and Torres remaining as the lone out-and-out striker.
“Morales did well in his minutes on the pitch,” Real said. “But we needed another midfielder and Morales is not a midfielder. I’m happy with Morales, but it was a tactical decision only.”
“We slightly changed it up a little in the first half. We’re use to playing differently and switching around. I was more of an outlet, coming and playing wide to try to feed [Torres] as much as possible,” said Avila. Added Torres: “It’s a different function where I play a little more by myself up top against the two center backs. And on the defensive end I have to put out a little more effort, but I think the formation and adjustments that [Real] implemented helped the team and we were able swing the match’s momentum.”
Oswaldo Minda was able to make a fourth consecutive start, his first since being injured in the June 23 loss to the LA Galaxy.
- “For me, Minda is one of the best players in Chivas USA. But he was injured a long time ago,” said Real. “And now, in the last three games, Minda has had very good games, very good plays and he’s an international player, very important for Chivas USA.”
REFEREE: Matthew Foerster. AR1 (bench): Chris Strickland; AR2 (opposite): Kevin Duliba; 4th: Daniel Radford
MLS Career: 16 games; FC/gm: 23.4; Y/gm: 3.8; R: 2; pens: 5
DISABLED LIST: CHV: Daniel Antuñez
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: CHV: Carlos Borja, Mario de Luna … POR: Andrew Jean-Baptiste, Will Johnson, Ben Zemanski
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: CHV: Bobby Burling, Carlos Alvarez, Gabriel Farfan, Tristan Bowen … POR: Diego Chara, Rodney Wallace
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
ALL-TIME (6 meetings): Chivas USA 4 wins, 5 goals … Timbers 2 wins, 5 goals …Ties 0
AT CHIVAS USA (3 meetings): Chivas USA 2 wins, 2 goals … Timbers 0 wins, 0 goals … Ties 0
FUTURE MATCH: 10/26: Chivas USA vs. Portland Timbers, 7:30 p.m. PT
- The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Rodney Wallace, Diego Valeri and Will Johnson all scored in a 3-0 Timbers victory, May 12 in Portland.
- Chivas has won four of the six meetings all-time in the league series – all three meetings between the teams a season ago, including both matches at JELD-WEN Field. The Timbers did win a U.S. Open Cup play-in game between teams in 2010.
- Coaches record: Caleb Porter vs. CHV: P1 W1 L0 T0 … José Luis Real vs. POR: first game
5/12: POR 3, CHV 0 (Wallace 34; Valeri 70; W. Johnson 93+)
- The Timbers took the lead in the 34th minute. On a counter off a corner kick, Rodney Wallace broke free down the left wing on a perfectly-timed feed from Ryan Johnson, then beat his defender and finished inside the far post with a nifty left-footed lob.
- The Timbers put the game away in the 70th minute when Wallace and Darlington Nagbe teamed up to unlock the Chivas defense with a series of passes at the top of the area. Wallace fed Diego Valeri on a perfectly timed through ball, and he easily beat Chivas goalkeeper Patrick McLain from the heart of the area.
- Portland completed the rout in stoppage time, when Will Johnson latched onto a short corner and hit a beautifully struck, right-footed shot from the left corner of the area that curled inside the far post past the outstretched arms of McLain.
- CHIVAS USA (4-1-3-2): Patrick McLain - Mario de Luna, Steve Purdy, Joaquin Velazquez, Carlos Borja - Marvin Iraheta (Martin Ponce 59) - Eric Avila, Edgar Mejia, Josue Soto - Giovani Casillas (Jose Correa 46), Tristan Bowen (Jose Rivera 65).
- PORTLAND TIMBERS (4-2-3-1): Donovan Ricketts - Jack Jewsbury (Ben Zemanski 74), Andrew Jean-Baptiste, Mamadou Danso, Michael Harrington (Frederic Piquionne 83) - Diego Chara, Will Johnson - Darlington Nagbe (Kalif Alhassan 71), Diego Valeri, Rodney Wallace - Ryan Johnson.