PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Timbers left no doubt Saturday night against Chivas USA, riding a classy goal from Diego Valeri in the game’s opening moments and a decisive defensive performance to a 2-0 win at Providence Park.
Rodney Wallace nabbed Portland’s other goal, also in the first half, as the Timbers rebounded from their 3-1 loss last weekend to the LA Galaxy for a third win in four games, moving them into a tie with the Colorado Rapids for fifth place in the Western Conference standings with 30 points from 23 games.
Chivas’ precipitous drop off following their season-best four-game winning streak continues with a fourth straight loss to keep them in the West’s basement.
Portland’s nine shots to Chivas’ one – a hopeful attempt by Erick Torres that missed by approximately 15 yards – told the story in the first half.
The Timbers - playing without injured attacker Darlington Nagbe for the second straight outing - struck first in the 10th minute when Valeri made a long run right up the spine, cut back at the edge of the box, leaving Chivas midfielder Nathan Sturgis spinning. The Argentine dynamo then unleashed a right-footed curler that whistled past a diving Dan Kennedy.
Portland nearly had another following a 25th-minute corner when the ball made its way out to Will Johnson, who teed up from distance. His rocket banged off the post right to new defender Liam Ridgewell, who tapped it cleanly into the back of the net for what would have opened his Timbers account. But he was ruled offside on the play before the hosts actually found the back of the net again in the 39th minute.
Valeri crossed to Fanendo Adi in the box on that play, and the forward shielded off a defender before flicking the ball to an awaiting Wallace. The Costa Rican then slotted easily past Kennedy to give Portland a 2-0 lead and Wallace his first goal of the year since dealing with an offseason knee surgery.
Chivas rarely tested the Portland defense on the night, and when they did, the Timbers were up to the task. Portland recorded their first clean sheet since May 28, which also came in a 2-0 win against Chivas, and just their second of the season.
The Goats did, however, show a bit more pluck in the second half – but not much.
Midfielder Mauro Rosales was set up with an open look at the top of the box in the 52nd minute, but his chip attempt was wide. The veteran midfielder also had a dangerous 75th-minute free kick from approximately 25 yards out, but that was also hit off the mark.
Chivas’ best chance came in the 83rd minute when substitute Leandro Barrera got free at the top of the box and sent in a left-footed shot that Timbers goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts cleaned up with a diving stop.
Portland nearly added to their lead in the 62nd minute when Johnson tried his best Valeri impression, making a long run, cutting back on the defense at the edge of the box and firing off a right-footed missile. But this time Kennedy was equal to the task with a superb diving save.
In the end, Portland held Chivas to nine shots, only one of which was on target.
Portland hit the road for their next match Saturday against the New England Revolution, while Chivas play host to the Vancouver Whitecaps on the same day.
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com.