With the MLS season nearing the home stretch, the Portland Timbers need every result they can get, especially at home.
Portland took care of business Saturday night, thoroughly outclassing Chivas USA in a 2-0 victory before an announced sellout crowd of 20,814 at Providence Park.
The goal was to get two goals or more and get a clean sheet, Timbers coach Caleb Porter said. We know points are crucial. It was our most comprehensive defensive performance.
The Timbers (7-7-9, 30 points) went up early on a marvelous goal by midfielder Diego Valeri, then extended their lead when striker Fanendo Adi made a fantastic play in the box before dishing off a pass to Rodney Wallace, who put an away the easy goal.
That was all Portland needed, as it played lockdown defense throughout the night, rarely making goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts have to earn his paycheck.
The Timbers finished with .515 of the possession, 15 shots and five balls on frame. Chivas USA (6-11-5, 23 points) had .485 of the possession and nine shots, one on goal.
It was maybe our best first half of the year, Porter said. We were completely dominant.
Portland went up 1-0 in the 10th minute on a breathtaking run and shot by Valeri.
Midfielder Diego Chara passed the ball to Valeri in the Timbers' defensive third. Valeri tore down the pitch like a ghost that Chivas could not see, nor hope to stop. Valeri went all the way to the top of the 18-yard box without being challenged. From there, he fired a right-footed rocket that went just below the crossbar and well out of the reach of Chivas USA goalkeeper Dan Kennedy.
I was just driving through the back line, and I waited for the guy that was close to me, Valeri said. I was thinking to shoot, and I tried to get some space to shoot. I was lucky, and it was a goal.
The Timbers nearly extended their lead in the 25th minute. Midfielder Will Johnson got the ball 30 yards from goal. He took a touch, gathered himself and sent a hard shot at the goal. The ball banged off the left post as Kennedy dove to try to save it. The ball came to Portland defender Liam Ridgewell, who sent a shot into the empty net. The flag was up, though, and the goal was disallowed as Ridgewell was called offside.
Portland did extend its lead in the 39th minute on a technically perfect play by Adi.
Valeri sent a pass into the box for Adi, who received the ball with his back to the goal. Adi kept possession, with two Chivas USA defenders surrounding him. Adi then sent a pass to Wallace. The Timbers striker was completely unmarked and could hardly help but put the ball in the back of the net. Wallace sent his shot inside the left post, and Portland led 2-0.
I turned and I could shoot, Adi said. But I saw Rodney there and just toed the ball a little bit to him.
Portland controlled the play in the second half, too.
It would have been nice to get the third goal, Porter said. But we shut things down pretty good.
The Timbers will be on the road next Saturday when they travel to New England to face the Revolution.