The Timbers grabbed an ever-important three points on Wednesday with a 3-2 victory over the visiting Chicago Fire. Chicago came to Portland winners of two in a row but the Timbers quickly pounced and left them reeling.
Jorge Moreira scored in the eleventh minute, then Brian Fernández scored just ten minutes late. 21 minutes into the game and the Timbers had a 2-0 lead.
To make matters worse for Chicago, they had to play a man down after Aleksander Katai was issued a red card in the 29th minute. The way the game started you would have expected a blowout. But that wasn't the case.
Portland appeared to let off the gas, so to speak, while Chicago showed its hearts and tried to claw back. Chicago would score their second goal of the game in stoppage time, but the final whistle blew soon after. The entire game wasn't as pretty as the first 21 minutes made it seem, but the result tasted just as sweet.
LETTING OFF THE GAS
So, did the Timbers let off the gas? The jumped out to the early 2-0 lead and were clearly the better team. Yet, even being a man down, Chicago was able to make a game of it.
When asked if he thought the team let up, Brian Fernández said "I believe so. It nearly cost us the game."
However, Diego Valeri didn't necessarily see it that way. "Most of the time during the game, we dominated them. Being 11 against 11, being 10 against 11, we dominated them," said Valeri. "But when you miss three or four clear chances, and then you got a couple mistakes and they score goals, the game looks like you didn't do much to win three or four zero."
Savarese, well, he knows his team is capable of better. Post-game the Timbers head coach talked about how these are the types of games, the type of team that the Timbers need to put away. They can't sit back and let a chance get points slip away. They have to be up to the task.
Said Savares, "this was the type game that I think if we do the things that we can do there's no reason that we have to suffer all the way until the end... we need to be better."
BRIAN FERNÁNDEZ IS ON FIRE
Just how good is Brian Fernández. Answer: Really, really good.
The Timbers forward scored a brace on Wednesday, netting his ninth and tenth goals of the MLS season. 10 goals in just 12 games is incredibly impressive. Overall, Fernández has scored 14 goals across all competitions for the Timbers. Oh, and he has only been in Portland since May. Talk about making an instant impact.
MABIALA GOES DOWN
Portland we dealt a tough blow in the 34th minute when defender Larrys Mabiala went down with a non-contact injury. At first, it appeared he may have hyperextended and injured his knee, but it was later determined that it was a hamstring injury. Mabiala had to leave the game and was replaced by Bill Tuiloma.
Head coach Gio Savarese said of the injury, "it's a hamstring. We don't know exactly what is the severity of the situation so we'll find out a little bit more. It's unfortunate that he had to come out of the match."
No more information on Mabiala's injury is known at this time.
It will be a rematch of last season's MLS Cup on Sunday when the Timbers welcome Atlanta United to town. Kickoff is set for 7:00 pm.