PORTLAND, Ore. – When you haven’t scored a goal in nearly two-and-a-half years, there’s hardly a better time than your birthday to rediscover that scoring touch.
Finding the back of the net twice in rather stunning fashion against your team’s bitter rival, well, that’s just icing on the proverbial cake.
That was precisely the case for Portland Timbers midfielder Diego Chara in Saturday’s dramatic 4-4 draw against the Seattle Sounders at Providence Park. The Colombian's two goals, including a stunning curler from the top of the 18 that was nominated for MLS Goal of the Week, were his first since Sept. 16, 2011 and the first time he has scored two goals in his MLS career.
And Portland, obviously, needed each one as the Sounders rallied furiously for a two-goal comeback in the final minutes, the only sour note on an otherwise banner day for the defensive midfielder.
“I feel good, but obviously, not completely happy with the game,” Chara said through an interpreter after the game. “We should have won that game. So to score two goals for me is good, but I’d rather see a win than see two goals. It is definitely special to score two goals on my birthday.”
The Colombian Designated Player couldn’t have picked a better time to end his scoring drought.
The Timbers came into the game having scored just two goals through their first four contests. And with attackers like Darlington Nagbe, Diego Valeri & Co., Chara – a player known more as a lethal destroyer – was an unlikely candidate to get the Timbers’ offense jump-started.
“We always kind of give him a hard time,” Timbers defender Michael Harrington said. “He hasn’t found a goal in awhile, but he came up huge today with a couple of huge goals for us. He was excellent.”
But it’s not as if Chara’s rare appearance on the score sheet was due to a special assignment designated by Timbers head coach Caleb Porter or a matchup that Chara took advantage of. Porter pointed out in his postgame comments that Chara and fellow holding midfielder Will Johnson “choose their moments to bomb on” in their 4-3-3 formation.
And Chara frequently does just that; the final touch has just eluded him over the last two years.
- The Backcut: adidas brazuca camera ball spotted at #PORvSEA
“He gets forward quite a bit,” Porter said. “He’s missed some chances over his career, but for him to smack two goals from the top of the 18, that’s a real positive.”
Chara’s ability to find space around the edge of the penalty area was perhaps due to the Timbers’ attacking third – of Nagbe, Valeri and Maximiliano Urruti on Saturday – rediscovering their dangerous form that helped them become the third highest scoring team in the league last season. And that’s a welcome sign for the Timbers as they continue to search for their first win of the season with a home game Saturday against Chivas USA next on the docket.
“The offense was clicking,” Chara said. “… It’s been coming along the last couple of games and [Saturday], fortunately enough, it did come along. The offense was good, but I’m also a defensive player, so I’m also thinking of the defensive lapses and how we can correct those.”
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com.