Photo by USA Today Sports Images
By RYAN TOLMICH
Just three days removed from hosting the MLS All-Star Game, it would be hard to blame head coach Caleb Porter and the Portland Timbers from suffering from a post-festivities hangover.
All-Star Diego Valeri ensured that there would be no sort of post-All-Star letdown, as the Argentine scored the opening goal of the eventual 2-0 Timbers victory over Chivas USA at Providence Park.
It took just 10 minutes for the Timbers midfielder to score the game’s opener, as Valeri capped off a quick Timbers counterattack with a spectacular right footed shot from long distance.
After snatching the ball from Chivas USA in their own final third, the Timbers darted upfield on the counter with Diego Chara finding Valeri just in front of the halfway line.
From there, Valeri sprinted forward with the ball at his feet before cutting back and firing from well outside the box. The shot curled to the left of Chivas USA goalkeeper Dan Kennedy, as Valeri gave his side the early 1-0 lead with his fourth goal in as many games.
The Timbers added their second in the 39th minute, with Rodney Wallace netting his first goal of the season to double the Timbers advantage.
The Timbers’ chance was once again orchestrated by Valeri, who played a low cross into the box and into the path of Fanendo Adi. Adi received the ball with his back towards goal, but failed to find a way to spin and muster a shot on goal.
The ball took a hop towards the backpost, where Wallace was waiting to volley the ball past Kennedy for his first goal since October 26 of last year.
Valeri played creator numerous times throughout the second half as well, with the Argentine creating chances for Gaston Fernandez and Wallace in the 55th and 72nd minutes, respectively. Valeri also nearly scored a second in the 65th before being being subbed off in the 85th minute to an applauding Providence Park crowd.
With the victory, the Timbers elevate themselves right back into the Western Conference playoff picture, jumping into a tie for fifth place with the Colorado Rapids. Up next for Portland is a cross-country trip to New England to face the Revolution.
Meanwhile, Chivas USA remain bottom of the conference and will look to rebound when they take on the Vancouver Whitecaps next week.
Here are the game highlights: