The Portland Timbers collected a 3-0 victory over the Colorado Rapids this Saturday in their first game at Providence Park in 34 days. Portland is now 3-2-3 at home this season and tied with Colorado in the Western Conference standings in total points.
It was a tale of two halves at Providence Park. The first half saw both offenses applying pressure early. The Timbers were able to generate eight shots through 45 minutes thanks to some excellent passing plays. For Colorado, the Rapid’s offense tallied nine shots and six corner kicks in the first half.
Both starting goalies had to be on their toes and ready for action. William Yarbrough made the first big save of the game for Colorado. After a Yimmi Chara shot was blocked, Sebastian Blanco would be denied the follow-up by the left foot of Yarbrough. Aljaz Ivacic would be tested moments later. The Portland netminder would have to make a diving save on a shot from Jonathan Lewis to keep the game scoreless.
The turning point of the match was moments before halftime. Inside the two minutes of stoppage time in the first half, Santiago Moreno would split defenders to catch up to a stretch pass. Yarbrough recognized the situation and came out to challenge. As Moreno caught up to the pass, Yarbrough collided with him at the top of the box. Yarbrough was injured from the collision and would be substituted for Abraham Rodriguez. Unfortunately for Rodriguez, he’d have no time to settle in. Upon review of the play, Portland was awarded a penalty shot. Sebastian Blanco would step up to take the kick, and he would bury the first goal of the game.
In the second half, the Timbers seemingly found another gear. First, the defense came up with a huge stop in the 49th minute. A free-kick from Diego Rubio would be stopped by Ivacic. Then, Michael Barrios would attempt to bury the rebound with a bounce shot, that Ivacic would block off his chest. Barrios would have another chance at the ball, but couldn’t put his next shot on target.
At the 54th minute, Portland would strike again. A deep ball from Bill Tuiloma would spring Jaroslaw Niezgoda behind the Colorado defense. Niezgoda would beat Rodriguez near the side, but the play would be reviewed for a possible handball. After the ruling of a goal stood, the Timbers would find themselves up 2-0.
Portland’s offense was relentless in the second half. In the 62nd minute, Rodriguez would make an incredible save and the rebound would be cleared outside the box. However, Eryk Williamson was ready for the clear. Williamson would steal the ball from one Colorado defender, dribble inside the box, and dart a pass to Niezgoda for a tap-in goal. Niezgoda’s second goal would be the final one of the night, and the Timbers would win by their second-largest margin of victory this season.
There were two players that had stand-out performances for their respective teams this game. For the Colorado Rapids, Michael Barrios had a very noteworthy performance. Barrios was everywhere offensively, leading the team with five scoring chances. For Portland, Niezgoda steals the spotlight. Not only did Niezgoda’s brace secure the Timbers fourth win of the season, but Niezgoda is also now tied for the most goals on the Timbers this season with five in total.
The Timbers will look to keep the ball rolling in their next game Wednesday, June 29th against the Houston Dynamo.