Nothing about Portland Timbers’ 1-0 Saturday night win over a depleted Minnesota United FC was easy.
The Timbers scratched and clawed their way to victory thanks to a Dairon Asprilla header off a corner kick in the 61st minute. They held on despite 20 total shots from the visitors to earn their fourth straight win.
The Loons were without two of their best players: midfielder Bakaye Dibassy and attacker Emanuel Reynoso both missed the match due to injury. This was Portland’s chance to put out a dominant showing; a playoff-caliber performance en route to three points could inspire confidence for the rest of the season.
The Timbers didn’t get the playoff-caliber performance, but they did get the win.
The first half was all about Minnesota’s Mender Garcia. The 23-year-old Colombian had four good-or-better chances in the opening 45, forcing two saves from Aljaz Ivacic and putting another two shots into the side-netting.
In all, Minnesota totaled 13 first-half shots. Claudio Bravo and Bill Tuiloma each saved a shot off the goal line.
Santiago Moreno struggled to settle into the game, as did Sebastian Blanco. Yimmi Chara was inconsistent on the ball, while Eryk Williamson provided his usual flare. But it was Mr. October who stepped up a month early.
Asprilla weaseled between Michael Boxall and Luis Amarilla at the near post, redirecting the fellow Colombian Moreno’s in-swinger past Dayne St. Clair for the night’s only goal. It was Asprilla’s eighth of the season and third in the last four matches.
Minnesota pressed on, but only offered one or two dangerous moments. Portland’s back line held together despite shakiness on set pieces.
In the end, though, who cares about the performance? Portland are temporarily fifth in the Western Conference.
- During this four-match win streak, Portland have scored only one of their seven goals from open play (Zac McGraw’s tap-in against Austin was against the run of play, as well). It hasn’t always been pretty, but it’s winning games.
- Ivacic made five saves and now leads MLS in total saves. He hasn’t stopped calling himself the best in the league.
- Bravo had three tackles and continues to lead MLS in total tackles.
- Zac McGraw is suspended for the next match due to yellow card accumulation.