Timbers top Crew, remain undefeated in MLS at home

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By JOSE M. ROMERO

Eric Brunner's 46th-minute goal — the product of yet another successful set piece for the Portland Timbers — was just enough for Portland to make it five straight MLS wins at Jeld-Wen Field after its 1-0 win over the Columbus Crew Saturday night. 

Brunner was in the right spot to knock in an on-target cross from Kalif Alhassan as the Timbers executed what has become their primary method of scoring lately — a set piece — to perfection. Jack Jewsbury placed the ball and passed to Alhassan without so much as a pause, and Alhassan found Brunner uncovered for the goal.

It was one of a scant few shining moments for the Timbers, but they made it stand. For Brunner, the goal had to be sweet, as he is native of the Columbus area and former Ohio State Buckeye who played for the Crew the past two seasons before being left unprotected in the expansion draft and chosen by Portland.

The Timbers (5-3-2) moved into the upper half of the Western Conference table at 17 points and are undefeated in four straight games, while the Crew (3-3-4) remained at 13 points and lost its second in a row.

Columbus was not without its chances. Forward Tommy Heinemann headed one over the goal in the 11th minute, but the biggest miss for the Crew came in the 42nd minute. Substitute Andres Mendoza, who'd replaced a shaken-up Emilio Renteria four minutes earlier, crossed to Heinemann for an open header that Portland goalkeeper Troy Perkins tipped away. 

The Timbers appeared frustrated with the Crew's physical play in the first half, as defender Julius James got a reaction from Timbers forward Kenny Cooper that earned Cooper a yellow card. 

With Brunner's goal, the Timbers loosened up and forward Jorge Perlaza was a tough matchup for James. Alhassan also had a couple of shots that missed. 

Portland settled back into a more defensive stance over the final nine minutes with Ryan Pore's entrance into the game for Perlaza. In the 86th minute, however, Columbus star Robbie Rogers turned and fired a shot in traffic that hit the post and rolled away. 

The Timbers weren't threatened after that, and kept possession of the ball for the final minute of extra time.

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18 Responses to Timbers top Crew, remain undefeated in MLS at home

  1. WickedGiMP says:

    Sucks for Columbus, Brunner was clearly offside. Pretty sure that linesman didn’t have the guts to disappoint the Portscum faithfull.

  2. Kejsare says:

    Pretty sure the ref made a mistake. Not about guts. The quick restart possibly unsettled him. I mean, the head ref could care less about the partisan crowd. It showed.

  3. BWH says:

    The head ref was watching the ball and didn’t see Brunner. The linesman had a bad angle and probably couldn’t see Brunner through the 10 players in his way. In the end Portland hangs on to their home streak and you hang on to your bitterness.

  4. Hincha Tim says:

    Watching the replay, I would say he was not clearly offsides. It looks like when the ball is played he is both even with the defender to his right and with the ball.

  5. Brice says:

    Sorry man I am a Timbers fan and even I can admit that on the video he has nearly his whole body goal side of the second to last defender. The second AR is trailing behind the play and has a tough angle looking through a large group of players. Not that I am going to complain about the goal, just comfortable enough to admit that it could have easily been disallowed.

  6. Luis F says:

    I’m a Sounder fan and I can tell from the video that Brunner is off as well. I can also tell you that Portland’s run of home victories, even if some of them are assisted by terrible ref decisions, is impressive.

  7. socnow says:

    Whatever.

  8. socnow says:

    “some assisted by terrible ref decisions.” Thanks for the backhanded compliment Flounder. Come on, Timbers have been burned by ref calls too. I’m sure Sounders have never benefited from a ref call or non-call, right?

    Oh yeah, noticed that Sounders scored their game winner on a set piece last night. I don’t think that’s fair. ;)

  9. The Most Interesting Man says:

    Fairly even match between these two teams and the stats back it up. One goal was probably going to be the difference. Timbers started flat, but picked it up. Much better second half for them. Columbus was better in the air than I thought they would be, they should stick with a 4-4-2. Crew is better than some people think.

    Perkins deserves SOTW nomination.

  10. Luis F says:

    Socnow,

    You can take it as a back-handed compliment, but that’s not how I meant it. Winning all five (or six now?) of their home games is an incredibly impressive showing by Portland. I don’t even think RSL has done that so far this year. Many teams (Seattle included) have gotten some very helpful referee decisions AND FAILED to turn those decisions into three points. So kudos to Portland for scoring the “offside” goal and preserving the shutout to earn three points.

    Stop being so sensitive. Your team is getting impressive results.

  11. socnow says:

    Just having some fun with you Luis. It’s all good.

  12. Luis F says:

    I don’t like fun. Humbug!

  13. Pdxspencer says:

    From the 4 replay angles, one does make the claim of offsides questionnable. That being said, Crew were caught totally off guard by the quick re-start. A real lack of focus and something that even the youth team I coach would not have done. Always have a player on top of the ball to prevent a quick re-start – especially when the ball is near your 18.

  14. Peter says:

    That Perkins save was unreal. I agree, a save of the week that denied a possible goal of the week.

  15. Big Baller says:

    I was in attendance at Jeld-Wen Field. The center official was terrible and he had little control of the match. I’ve seen tighter officiating in WWE.

    It’s like the officials cared more about riling up the players and crowd than protecting the skill. Play-on. Play-on.

    Nearly every player was allowed to clutch, grab, hold with 2 arms, use leverage etc… while on defense. Chad Marshall in particular had Cooper in a half nelson nearly challenge.

    Actually thought the officials in MLS were pretty good so far until tonight.

    Impressed with Timbers resilience and winning this kind of battle royal, arm-bar battle. 3 valuable points.

    I don’t blame Columbus for competing like this, but fans would rather see skill than refs officiating a wrestling show. Is there more of this stuff in MLS??? At least we know the Timbers can win these style slugfests too.

  16. Natalie says:

    I’m also a Timbers fan. While it’s true that the Brunner goal may have been offsides, it would have been no less talked about as a “maybe that was the wrong call” if it had been disallowed. All in all, worst reffing I’ve seen all season. The game was much dirtier than Seattle last week (no cards there, which surprised me) and lots of calls weren’t made that should have been. It seemed like someone was hitting the pitch every few seconds, often as someone took them out from the back.

    Not our prettiest game, but the most important thing is the 3 points. Hopefully this will help us avoid getting complacent at home.

    @Luis Yeah, RSL hasn’t done it either. Portland’s the only team in MLS with a perfect home record still.

  17. Green76 says:

    I had a great time last night at the Timbers game. What a great crowd. “Play on” seemed to be the motto of the ref though. I try not to give the refs a hard time but this one had a bad night.

  18. Kejsare says:

    Portland is the only expansion team to ever get 5 home wins in a row, especially since the start of the season. In fact, no expansion team since 2005 has ever won more than two at any time! Chicago won 7 in 1998, but shootout wins makes it similar to undefeated rather than wins.