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Timbers turn it on for 2-1 home win

by: COURTESY OF DAVID BLAIR - Diego Valeri celebrates his goal for the Portland Timbers in Friday night's 2-1 home victory over the Colorado Rockies.For most of Friday night, it appeared as though the Portland Timbers would again have to leave the pitch without three points after outplaying their opponent.

The Timbers prevented that with two late goals in a 2-1 win over the Colorado Rapids at Providence Park before an announced sellout crowd of 20,814.

After the Rapids went up 1-0 on a 16th-minute goal, Portland turned up the intensity. The Timbers began knocking on the door at the end of the first half and continued the pace in the second half.

Substitute striker Maximiliano Urruti scored the equalizer in the 73rd minute and midfielder Diego Valeri put the Timbers ahead 2-1 in 77th minute.

“I care mostly how it feels to my guys,” Timbers coach Caleb Porter said. “It feels good to them. The blessing of what’s transpired this season is now that we’re in games where there’s pressure, we’re one of the strongest teams in the league.”

The win came with Colorado severely handicapped. The Rapids entered the match missing four regular starters: defenders Shane O’Neill (suspension) and Jose Mari (ankle) and midfielders Vincent Sanchez (suspension), and Nick LaBrocca (suspension).

The Timbers started the second half strong. Desperate to find the equalizer, Portland went on the attack, pushing numbers up the pitch and forcing the Colorado to counter by packing in its defense.

In the 73rd minute, defender Jack Jewsbury took the ball on the right side, near the end line, and sent a cross to Urruti, who was making a run into the 6-yard box. The cross was timed perfectly. Urruti got on the end of it and was able to tap a shot inside the right post to knot the score 1-1.

After the goal, Portland continued attacking Colorado, trying to go up a goal.

Valeri got a pass from Diego Chara in the middle of the pitch, 40 yards from goal. Valeri took a touch, then another, and from 35 yards, sent a firecracker at goal. The ball whistled through the night and beat Rapids goalkeeper Clint Irwin to the top right corner to give Portland the lead.

“When I got the ball, I knew I would shoot and score,” Valeri said.

Portland controlled .619 of the possession, compared to Colorado having the ball at its feet .381 of the match.        

The Timbers (5-6-9, 24 points) moved into seventh place in the MLS Western Conference.

The Rapids (7-6-6) controlled the match early. Colorado moved the ball into the final third and challenged Timbers goalkeeper Donovan Rickets time and again.

The Timbers were living too dangerously, and it cost them a bizarre goal in the 16th minute.

Colorado took a corner kick from the left side. The ball came into the 18-yard box, where defender Drew Moor headed it toward the goal. Ricketts was there to block the shot.

The ball came loose, though, and Rapids striker Deshorn Brown got the rebound just three yards from goal. He tried to send it in with his upper thigh. Once again, Ricketts blocked the shot, but the ball came right back to Brown. The striker tried to shoot with his right foot. He did not make enough of a connection with the ball to send it into the back of the net, but as the Timbers' defenders tried to clear it, the ball crossed the goal line and Colorado had a 1-0 lead.

The Timbers will be on the road the next two weeks. Portland will travel to Montreal to play the Impact on July 27 before going to Los Angeles to face the Galaxy on Aug. 2.

“It’s good to get three points,” Porter said. “But we have to move on.”