Timbers hold off Galaxy, win 1-0
An eighth-minute goal from Diego Chara and a stoppage-time save from Jake Gleeson added up to the first MLS road win since 2015 for the Portland Timbers.
Chara scored at the end of a counterattack as the Timbers beat the Los Angeles Galaxy 1-0 to improve to 2-0 this season.
The goal came on a 17-second transition from defending a Galaxy corner kick to Chara's finish. Sebastian Blanco sent a long forward pass that Chara headed ahead to Diego Valeri behind the defense. Valeri drew out goalkeeper Clement Diop and slipped a pass to Chara for a tap-in goal.
It was the only goal in a strange match between two shorthanded teams.
With Vytas and Liam Ridgewell out with injuries, Portland started a back line that included Centennial High senior Marco Farfan at left back and new Timber Roy Miller to his right at center back. And defensive midfielder David Guzman left with a shoulder injury in the first half.
The Galaxy started without five projected starters, lost central defender Jelle Van Damme to a red card after 34 minutes and lost forward Giovani dos Santos to a leg injury at halftime.
Portland did not win a game away from Portland last season. Its most recent regular-season away win came at the Galaxy late in 2015, a result that jump- started the Timbers' run to the MLS Cup championship — which they won with a victory at Columbus.
"We defended really well today, and it's great to get that first clean sheet and that first road win," Portland coach Caleb Porter said.
Playing a man up for more than an hour, Portland was not able to add a second goal. The best chance among several came in the 72nd minute, when Fanendo Adi led a three-man breakaway. But the Galaxy scrambled to recover before Adi could get a shot at the open goal.
That chance came shortly after the first of two reaction saves from Gleeson, who reached low to his left to swat away a Romain Alessandrini chance.
In the 82nd minute, Alessandrini curled a free kick just wide of the goal.
Finally, in the 94th minute, Gleeson made a tremendous reaction save. He dove low to his right to block a redirected header from Jose Villarreal off an Alessandrini cross.
The save preserved the first 2-0 start for Portland in its MLS history and guaranteed a road shutout despite the changes to the defense.
Porter said getting a win in the first away game of 2017 should help his team return to the strong road form it had in 2014 and 2015.
To win on the road in MLS, Porter said, "you need to grind. You need guys to stick together. And you need guys to come up with big plays like Jake did at the end of the game making that save."
Van Damme was sent off for a second yellow card minutes apart. In the 31st minute, he was cautioned for arguing with referee Baldomero Toledo. Three minutes later, he was given a second yellow for sticking his leg in on Guzman. Replays showed no contact with Guzman, but Van Damme did not touch the ball. Guzman landed hard on his left shoulder and left the match moments later, replaced by Ben Zemanski.
Porter said immediately after the game that he did not know the severity of Guzman's shoulder injury.
"We'll see how bad it is. He's a tough guy. I'm assuming he'll rebound OK. But we'll see," Porter said.
Next for the Timbers is a Saturday home match against Houston, which also is 2-0. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.