Timbers Defeat Rapids, Move Into Third Place
PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Timbers received a first-half goal from midfielder Diego Valeri and turned in a solid defensive performance to defeat the Colorado Rapids 1-0 before a sellout crowd of 20,674 at JELD-WEN Field on Friday night, moving into third place in the Western Conference.
With the win, the Timbers (11-5-13, 46pts) jumped the LA Galaxy and Rapids (12-9-9, 45pts) in the standings to move into third place in the tightly contested Western Conference race, and currently sit just three points back of both first place in the conference and the lead for the Supporters’ Shield.
Portland staked a 1-0 lead in the 13th minute on Valeri’s eighth goal of the season, set up by forward Rodney Wallace’s career-best sixth assist. The Timbers limited the Rapids to a single shot on goal, recording their 11th shutout of the season and a second straight clean sheet at home. The Timbers are unbeaten in their last 12 league matches at JELD-WEN Field, the third-longest home unbeaten streak in MLS this season.
Portland held Colorado scoreless for the first time since July 7, and handed the Rapids just their second loss since June 29.
High pressure applied by the Timbers and striker Maximiliano Urruti on the Rapids in their defensive third led to the go-ahead strike by the home side. By Urruti pressing the backline, Wallace was able to break up a clearing pass played short and headed the ball back into space near the top of the Colorado box for Valeri. With Rapids goalkeeper Clint Irwin off his line, Valeri chipped a shot over the goalkeeper and into the back of the net. Valeri has factored in 12 of Portland’s last 17 goals.
The Timbers’ defense held firm through the Rapids’ nine corner kicks, six of which came in the first half, and 13 shots. The Rapids’ lone shot on goal came in the 39th minute from a tight angle by forward Atiba Harris.
A quick build-up by the Timbers in the 29th minute set up Urruti, making his first MLS start, for an open run at goal. From just inside the area, Urruti’s shot was tipped wide of the mark by Irwin charging off his line.
Wallace, who recorded his fourth assist of the season against the Rapids on Valeri’s first-half goal, had a pair of good looks at goal around the 70th minute. The first came off a free kick from the right side, but his header missed just wide of the near post. In the 71st minute, Wallace’s left-footed shot from the top of the box was driven just wide of the top left corner of the goal.
In the second half, Rapids forward Edson Buddle had a shot from the top of the area that flashed wide left of the goal in the 63rd minute and second-half substitute Gabriel Torres delivered a chance with six minutes remaining that also missed wide left.
The Timbers play host to the LA Galaxy in a nationally televised match on NBC on Sunday, Sept. 29, at JELD-WEN Field; kickoff is set for 12:30 p.m. (Pacific). The match will also feature radio broadcasts available on 750 The Game and in Spanish on La Pantera 940 AM.