Timbers hold off Dynamo for first MLS win of 2021

by Charlie Folkestad

It wasn’t always comfortable, but the Portland Timbers held on for a 2-1 victory over the Houston Dynamo in Providence Park on Saturday night.

Cristhian Paredes celebrates with Felipe Mora. Photo via Portland Timbers (used with permission)

Cristhian Paredes redeemed himself from an own goal to score the winner ahead of a reunion with his former club on Wednesday.

Coming off a tough 1-0 loss to the Vancouver Whitecaps in Week 1, the Timbers redeemed themselves with a solid home performance against Houston’s A-team.

Gio Savarese went with a rotated squad for this match with a midweek meeting against Mexican giants Club América awaiting on Wednesday.

Homegrown player Blake Bodily started at center forward in his MLS Regular Season debut and struggled to get touches, though he did make a few good runs. Felipe Mora would replace him in the 59′.

“It was definitely a little different…playing up top is certainly not my first position,” said Bodily. “I think I did an OK job but I think I can improve.”

The night was sadly underscored by the passing of Diego Valeri’s father, Luis. The emotions of the night were felt by more than just El Maestro.

Match Recap

It wouldn’t take long for the Timbers to strike first, as Dairon Asprilla guided a Pablo Bonilla cross into the side-netting from the penalty spot in the sixth minute. Asprilla ran straight to the bench to celebrate with Diego Valeri after the opener.

Houston had a chance of their own in the 16′, but Fafa Picault’s shot from the top of the box went wide.

Houston tied the match in the 28′ when Cristhian Paredes mistakenly flicked a Tyler Pasher cross past Jeff Attinella off a short corner kick. It originally looked like Houston’s Boniek Garcia got the touch, but replay confirmed it hit Paredes.

Pasher was besting Bravo on Houston’s right flank in the first half, beating him twice before recording his second assist in as many MLS starts (see above).

Urruti was greeted with jovial jeers after tactically fouling Marvin Loría and receiving a yellow card. He had 15 goals in 28 MLS starts as a Portland Timber from 2013-15.

Diego Valeri and Dario Župarić swapped in for Yimmi Chará and Larrys Mabiala at halftime. Usual starters for usual starters makes sense for saving minutes; this was probably predetermined.

Things got spicy five minutes into the second half when Bonilla accidentally elbowed (hopefully) Picault in the face. No cards were given, but a foul was called on Bonilla.

A similar incident followed in the 54’—Bonilla caught another player in a similar way. Tempers would continue to flare, as a late Ismail Elfath foul call on Župarić caused a ruckus in midfield.

Tuiloma missed a great offensive set piece chance in the 69′, but the breakthrough would have to wait.

Three minutes later, Tuiloma would assist Paredes’ revenge—lumping the ball up to Felipe Mora, who headed it perfectly into the path of Cristhian Paredes to smash home. 2-1 Timbers with ~20 minutes to go? Let’s go.

In the shadow of the smoke, Williamson replaced Loría as Portland’s fourth sub of the match. Van Rankin replaced Bonilla in the 82′ to round out Gio’s swaps for the night.

Even with the 2-1 lead, Portland still looked vulnerable; giving balls away in their own third, wasting possessions, and nearly allowing Pasher to slide a in for a goal in the 85′.

Portland were not without their chances. Multiple counterattack opportunities went begging, with the 87′ Mora-to-Valeri fastbreak being the most dangerous. Valeri’s shot flew over the bar, and Asprilla’s effort would too a couple minutes later. Right on time another two minutes later (90 + 1′ by now), Van Rankin’s darting run and fantastic one-two with Mora produced yet another skied shot.

Asprilla nearly assisted a Mora goal in the 90 + 2′ but the pass drifted half a step too far. Nevertheless, the final whistle sounded like a crowd (with real fans!) enjoying Portland’s first MLS points of 2021.

Other Notes & Quotes

Asprilla was his usual self, including the goal:

  • Made a brilliant move to get past Adam Lundkvist before committing a caution-worthy foul a minute later in the first half.
  • Engaged in a few noteworthy clashes with Zarek Valentin on the other side of the box.
  • A header at the back post struck right to Marko Maric.
  • Nearly curling a great solo effort into the corner—slipped instead.
  • Bolting down the left side deep into the game and beating Houston’s whole midfield before poking Valentin in the face for a foul.

Portland registered 23 shots with five being on target, while Houston totaled only 10 and three, respectively.

Gio explicitly mentioned the impressiveness of the win with squad rotation, specifically with “having [Paredes’] fresh legs” next to Diego Chará in the midfield.

Last but not least, I found this at the end of the night. Enjoy.

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