Houston thumps Timbers
Houston continues to be a problem for the Portland Timbers.
After grabbing a lead in the ninth minute, a series of mental and physical breakdowns from Portland handed the Dynamo — a team far off the playoff race — a 4-1 win in Major League Soccer action at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston.
The Dynamo — winless in its previous 10 MLS matches — scored twice from free kicks and twice on counter attacks to post a comfortable win.
The Timbers (12-8-8, 44 points) sit sixth in the Western Conference, four points up on seventh-place Vancouver in the playoff chase. The Dynamo (8-13-7, 31 points) are 13 points behind the sixth playoff spot.
Portland is one point back of fourth-place Real Salt Lake and three back of third-place Los Angeles FC in a tight Western Conference.
Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese said the performance was not good enough.
"We found the goal early, we were moving the ball well and then we became overconfident, too comfortable in the match, and then we allowed them to be able to find spaces," Savarese said. "We gave them the first goal and then we just broke apart."
Portland went up 1-0 in the ninth minute when a cross attempt by Portland's Alvas Powell deflected off of Houston's Alejandro Fuenmayor and into the goal.
Houston tied it in the 32nd minute. Unmarked on a free kick from Tomas Martinez, Alberth Elis scored with a close-range header after wandering free of Lawrence Olum.
The go-ahead goal came in the 29th minute on a well-executed counter attack. Mauro Manotas scored into an open goal at the end of a Elis cross after Martinez found Elis in space on the right wing.
Portland appeared to have tied it just before halftime when Diego Chara finished off a cross from Diego Valeri. But after a video review, the goal was waved off because Valeri was ruled offside before he sent the ball across the goal mouth.
Manotas scored his 14th goal of the season in the 71st minute on another chance keyed by Elis, who found space to send a sharp ball from the right wing that Portland goalkeeper Steve Clark couldn't handle. The ball fell in front of Manotas who volleyed the ball into the goal.
Funemayor finished off the Houston win by scoring from a free kick on the 81st minute. He was left open at the back post for a close-range finish through the legs of Clark.
Portland's best chances in the second half were a shot from Cristhian Paredes right to goalkeeper Joe Willis, a Jeremy Ebobisse header from a corner that bounced to Willis and a late chance for Sebastian Blanco that slipped just wide.
Saturday's game was the start of the last three-game week of the season for the Timbers. Portland plays host to Columbus on Wednesday before traveling to Minnesota next Saturday.
• Seattle clinched the 2018 Cascade Cup trophy by winning, 2-1, at Vancouver on Saturday. It was the ninth MLS win in a row for the fifth-place Sounders, who are tied with Portland on points but have one more win and a game in hand.