The weather could not have been a much worse Sunday afternoon at Jeld-Wen Field. It was cold, it was rainy, it was windy. And not surprisingly, the rain turned the match between the Portland Timbers and the Los Angeles Galaxy into a sloppy affair.
The first half was abysmal, with neither team threatening to score.
In the second half, though, the Timbers capitalized on a textbook corner kick by Will Johnson and an out-of-this-world goal by Maxiliano Urruti.
The goal was enough to give the Timbers a 1-0 win after Portland survived a terrifying moment in stoppage timem when a Galaxy goal was disallowed because Robbie Keane was offside.
The three points put Portland in a fantastic position to make the MLS playoffs. The Timbers 12-5-13 (49 points) are third in the Western Conference. With only four regular-season matches remaining, Portland is eight points ahead of the Vancouver Whitecaps and the San Jose Earthquakes, who are tied for sixth with 41 points each. The top five teams in the conference will make the playoffs.
Its a big step, Porter said, of the Timbers' win. It puts us four points clear of L.A. (13-11-6, 45 points).
Johnson lined up for the winning corner on the left side. He sent a ball at the left post. The timing for Urrutis run was just little off. The Argentinean, who came to Portland from Toronto FC on Sept. 9, overran the ball. He had to stretch his right leg behind him to make connection. Somehow, Urruti was able to redirect the ball inside the near post.
Hes a finisher, Porter said. He worked tirelessly the entire night to be a nuisance to their defenders.
In stoppage time, the Galaxy's Landon Donovan took a free kick from 25 yards, and Keane sent in a header. But the offside whistle allowed the announced sellout crowd of 20,674 to breathe a sigh of relief.
Every team does it where they start a couple of guys offside and then hope to come back to the line," Portland defender Jack Jewsbury said. "Fortunately, the linesman saw it and made a good call.
The Timbers out-possessed the Galaxy .542 to .458 in the first half. But the Timbers had only two shots a ball by Jewsbury that went high in the 36th minute and a shot by Diego Valeri that went wide right in the 37th minute.
The Galaxy had seven shots, with only two balls on target, both coming from Gyasi Zardes, in the 29th and 33rd minutes.
The first half began with a quick pace, but by about the 25th minute, it seemed as if both teams were too cold and wet to summon much enthusiasm.
After the Timbers' goal, Portland began playing more inspired soccer. Tasting blood, as well as three points, the Timbers pushed the ball up the pitch and went for the jugular.
Portland finished with five shots, putting three balls on frame, while the Galaxy had nine shots and two on goal.
Surprisingly, the Timbers were out-possessed by the Galaxy .532 to .468.
The Timbers will have their destiny in their hands the rest of the season. All of their remaining games are against conference opponents, starting with next Sundays road match against the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Weve still got work to do, Porter said. Were not done yet.