PORTLAND – The Portland Timbers took an impressive step toward the playoffs Friday night with a 3-0 victory over the New England Revolution.
Midfielder Diego Chara and forward Kenny Cooper each scored in an action-filled first half and midfielder Darlington Nagbe put the final touches on the victory with the game’s final tally in the second half in front of a record crowd of 20,323 at JELD-WEN Field.
The Timbers won their fourth consecutive game at home and extended their unbeaten streak to four, hopping D.C. United for the 10th and final playoff spot – pending the weekend’s games.
The loss, meanwhile, likely sinks New England’s playoff chances. The Revs came into the game on good form and with a puncher’s chance at the playoffs, but now find themselves nine points out of the last spot with just five games left in the season.
The game got off to a roaring start in the ninth minute when Chara dug a Lovel Palmer cross out of a scrum in the six-yard box and chipped it past sliding Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis for the first Timbers goal.
From there it became a track meet with both sides forcing spectacular saves. A left-footed attempt by Milton Caraglio was turned away superbly by Portland goalkeeper Troy Perkins, who earned his eighth clean sheet of the season.
And in the 18th minute, midfielder Benny Feilhaber tried to sneak a long drive into the far corner but the attempt sailed just high.
But it was only a matter of time until Portland, who were on the front foot all night, added their second. It came courtesy of Cooper, who bundled it home in the 31st minute after he positioned himself on the end of a perfectly placed cross by defender Mike Chabala from the left wing. Cooper got between the New England central defenders and guided the ball home with his chest for just his second goal in the last 21 games.
New England couldn’t get into the locker room quick enough as Portland set up shop around the Revs goal. And Reis was called upon several times, including a spectacular save on Nagbe that kept it at 2-0 just before the halftime whistle.
It was a disastrous first half for the Revs as they watched Portland fire off 15 shots, including four on goal, as an early end-to-end affair quickly turned into a Portland shooting range.
But the halftime break did the Revs little good as Portland – smelling a playoff spot now – came out in search of their third.
They found it in the 66th minute when midfielder Kalif Alhassan spotted Nagbe open in front of the goal, having escaped the notice of New England’s defense. A clever cross from the Ghanaian ended up with Nagbe nodding a header just inside Reis’ left post.
Portland (10-12-6, 36 points) have six games remaining, and currently sit in the fourth-and-final wild card slot. They next play host to San Jose on Wednesday.
New England (5-12-12, 27 points) remain eighth in the East with five games left. They travel to Chicago for their next match on Sept. 25.
POR -- Diego Chara 2 (Lovel Palmer 1) 9
POR -- Kenny Cooper 5 (Mike Chabala 2) 32
POR -- Darlington Nagbe 2 (Kalif Alhassan 6) 66
New England Revolution -- Matt Reis, Kevin Alston, Franco Coria, A.J. Soares (Ryan Guy 58), Darrius Barnes, Monsef Zerka (Kenny Mansally 71), Benny Feilhaber, Shalrie Joseph, Chris Tierney, Rajko Lekic (Zack Schilawski 45), Milton Caraglio.
Substitutes Not Used: Ryan Cochrane, Kheli Dube, Pat Phelan, Bobby Shuttleworth.
Portland Timbers -- Troy Perkins, Lovel Palmer, Eric Brunner, Mamadou Danso, Mike Chabala, Sal Zizzo (Eric Alexander 82), Diego Chara, Jack Jewsbury, Kalif Alhassan, Kenny Cooper (Bright Dike 80), Darlington Nagbe.
Substitutes Not Used: James Marcelin, Jorge Perlaza, Steve Purdy, Rodney Wallace, Jake Gleeson.
NE -- Franco Coria (caution; Reckless Foul) 62
Referee: Hilario Grajeda
Referee's Assistants: Bill Dittmar; Paul Scott
4th Official: Daniel Fitzgerald
Time of Game: 1:51
Weather: Partly Cloudy-and-69-degrees