Timbers stay hot, beat Dynamo
Trailing by a goal at halftime on Saturday, the Portland Timbers turned in a complete second-half performance to earn a 4-2 win over the Houston Dynamo at Providence Park.
Diego Valeri scored two goals, and David Guzman and Fanendo Adi found the net for the Timbers, who improved to 3-0-0 in the MLS season.
It was the first loss for Houston (2-1-0).
"We played with a real edge, a real ruthlessness that I've been wanting to see," Timbers coach Caleb Porter said. "I'm real pleased with that second half."
Guzman's tenacity personified that effort.
Guzman had a goal and assist and was generally involved in most of the meaningful action as the Timbers overcame a 2-1 deficit.
Guzman scored the go-ahead goal in the 66th minute and set up Adi for the late one that iced the win. The midfielder was also in the area when Valeri headed home the tying goal.
Valeri also scored on a penalty kick.
The Timbers out-shot Houston 13-1 in the second half after the Dynamo produced a 10-4 shot advantage and led 2-1 at the break.
Valeri said he was happy about the way Portland won the game and credited Portland's defenders for doing a good job of beating Houston's forwards to the ball in the second half, which allowed the Timbers to claim possession with space to attack.
"We want to dominate games with the ball and putting pressure in the front half," Valeri said.
Valeri's tying goal was a header from 6 yards — his second headed goal as a Timber and his second in as many home games this season.
This one came from a cross delivered from the left by Zarek Valentin. Valeri said he saw Adi run to the near post and slipped into open space for his lunging header.
Valentin, who found out after 5 p.m. he would be starting because Marco Farfan was ill and Vytas is injured, said he just wanted to put his cross into a dangerous area.
"Diego always makes a good late run. I think we have a little bit of a subliminal understanding," Valentin said. "Me and him are good buddies. He did extremely well. It was a beautiful header."
Things became prettier for the Timbers in the 66th minute, when Guzman was able to touch a poor Houston clearance to Darlington Nagbe at the top of the penalty area. Falling down, Nagbe played the ball back to Guzman, who dribbled around goalkeeper Tyler Deric for the finish.
Adi ended the suspense with his 88th-minute finish off a quick counterattack that started with center back Roy Miller clearing the ball forward to Guzman in the center circle. Guzman's direct ball up the middle allowed Adi to split two defenders, then elude Deric and put the ball inside the left post for his third goal of the season.
The Timbers caught an early break when referee Allen Chapman awarded a penalty kick for a handball foul as Houston's DeMarcus Beasley jumped to block a Sebastian Blanco cross and hit the ball with his elbow.
Valeri converted for a 1-0 Timbers lead in the 11th minute.
But Houston was the more dynamic team for much of the first half and led 2-1 at the break on a penalty kick from Erick "Cubo" Torres and a beautifully executed counterattack that was finished by Romell Quioto, who was one on one with Jake Gleeson thanks to a pass from Alberth Elis.
The Torres PK was the result of a handball call against Portland's Diego Chara, who had a free kick hit his arm as Chara jumped to block the shot. Chara appeared to react to protect his face.
Portland was credited with 59 percent of possession in the first half (and 58.6 percent for the game), but Houston had a 10-4 advantage in shots (5-1 on goal), and the quickness of the Dynamo attack more than once put the Timbers on their heels during the first 45 minutes.
That changed in the second half, when the Timbers moved Valeri wider left to give him space to create, Valentin got forward more, and Guzman, Chara and center backs Miller and Lawrence Olum consistently won battles for possession.
Next for Portland is a trip on Saturday to Columbus for a 4:30 p.m. game.