Despite a finish from midfielder Diego Valeri early in the second half, the Portland Timbers fell 3-1 against the Houston Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium on Saturday night. The goal marked Valeri’s 13th in league play this season, and second in as many matches, with the midfielder ranked tied for the sixth-most goals scored in MLS this season.
The result snapped the Timbers’ three-game unbeaten run against the Dynamo in league play (2-0-1), dating back to June 20, 2015, with Portland (11-12-8, 41pts) defeating Houston 3-2 at Providence Park in the first matchup of the 2016 season between the two clubs on June 26.
Despite Portland opening the match on the strong foot with several chances, including a close-range header from defender Steven Taylor in the second minute of play, Houston (7-11-11, 32pts) managed to take the lead in the 34th minute when the referee pointed to the penalty spot, signaling for a handball in the area on Timbers defender Liam Ridgewell, who made a sliding challenge to block a shot from the edge of the box. On the ensuing penalty kick, forward Mauro Manotas converted from the penalty spot, giving the home side a 1-0 lead late in the first half.
Responding strongly in the second half, Portland equalized just six minutes into the half when Valeri scored from inside the 18-yard box, recording his 13th goal of the season. The Timbers broke through after a precise pass from midfielder Darlington Nagbe released midfielder Darren Mattocks in behind Houston’s defense. Charging into the box from the left side of the field, Mattocks’ curling effort rattled off the post to Valeri, who anticipated the rebound, with the midfielder calmly slotting his first-time chance past goalkeeper Joe Willis and into the back of the net.
With the finish, the Timbers are the only team in MLS with two or more players who have scored 13 or more goals this season, with forward Fanendo Adi ranking fourth in MLS for goals scored (15).
Houston regained the lead against the run of play when Manotas scored his second goal of the game in 73rd minute of play, finishing a low cross from midfielder Boniek Garcia from 12 yards away. Less than 15 minutes later, with the Timbers pushing up the field for an equalizer, Houston doubled its lead through a counter attack when Garcia played a through ball in behind to Manotas, who slotted his chance into the bottom left corner.
Portland created additional chances to score throughout the game, including an opportunity in the 12th minute from Valeri, who combined with Mattocks before striking an effort just wide of the target, while Nagbe’s chance in the 67th minute skipped just wide of the target.
Next up, the Timbers will travel to San Salvador, El Salvador, for a 2016-17 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League fixture against C.D. Dragon on Tuesday, Sept. 27, beginning at 7 p.m. (Pacific). Portland will return to league play on Saturday, Oct. 1, when it travels to face the Colorado Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, beginning at 6 p.m. (Pacific). Next Saturday’s match will feature a live broadcast on PDX TV (KPDX) with local radio broadcasts on 750 AM/102.9 FM The Game (English) and La GranD 1150 AM/93.5 FM (Spanish).
- Midfielder Diego Valeri recorded his 13th goal in MLS this season, which ranks tied for the sixth-most in the league in 2016.
- With the goal, Valeri ranks tied for ninth place for the most goals scored in a single season across all eras in club history (since 1975).
- Valeri’s finish places his season total to three goals scored against the Dynamo in 2016, which ranks as the most goals scored against Houston by a single player in MLS this season.
- The Timbers are the only team in MLS with two or more players who have scored 13 or more goals in MLS this season, with forward Fanendo Adi ranked fourth for goals scored (15).
- The loss against Houston marks the Timbers first loss against the Texas-based club since June 20, 2015, snapping Portland’s three-game unbeaten run against the Dynamo.
- Recording two saves in the match, Timbers goalkeeper Jake Gleeson ranks first in MLS for saves (109), despite playing six games fewer than Vancouver Whitecaps FC goalkeeper David Ousted, who ranks second for saves in MLS.