The Portland Timbers enjoyed a historical 5-2 comeback victory on Sunday against the Los Angeles Galaxy at the StubHub Center.
After six years of being in Major League Soccer (MLS) the Timbers recorded their first victory at Los Angeles. Portland entered the match knowing that they needed a victory or at least a point to keep their post-season dreams alive.
“It's three points, putting us on 50 points and it puts us in a great spot going into the last game to hopefully maybe get a home game depending on how things go, that's the position we wanted to be in,” Portland’s head coach Caleb Porter said after the game. “A lot of people doubted us, no one in that locker room ever doubted, they never doubted themselves, they never doubted each other and you saw that in the performance. Even down a goal playing the best team in the league – I said it before the game I firmly believe that. We are down a goal and we are on the road against the best team in the league, and for these guys to claw back in it and put up five goals and make a statement like that I think is massive.”
Timber’s forward Fanendo Adi led Portland to the victory with his brace as he ripped apart LA’s defense in the second half. However, regardless that the Timbers dominated throughout the entire match it was the Galaxy who took the lead.
The Irish international Robbie Keane put LA ahead in the 36th minute. Galaxy’s midfielder Juninho sent a long range bomb directly on to the path of Keane. The striker let the ball bounce once next to him before he pulled the trigger. Then he blasted a shot from 18-yards-out into the left hand corner of the net to make it 1-0.
LA had the lead but in no way where they in control of the match. Portland offense produced 18 shots and put five of them on target. However, in the first half the Timbers failed to register a single shot that was on frame, but in the final 45 minutes that all changed.
“We stayed composed towards the end of the game we started getting our rhythm and of course we came back in the second half,” Adi said after his brace performance. “It was a good showing from our side, we came back thinking we could get a goal and definitely got a second one. Once we got the first goal things opened up and it was now a 50/50 game and we were lucky enough to come out victorious and get a convincing win today.”
At the 65th minute the Timbers pulled even with Adi’s close range powerful shot. Portland’s midfielder Diego Valeri started the play near the center of the field. He then executed a quick give and go with Darlington Nagbe. After completing the give and go Valeri took off running towards the top of the penalty box.
He then passed the ball to his left where forward Lucas Melano was entering the left hand side of the box. Melano delivered a short pass to Adi. The Nigerian native stopped the ball and turned towards goal and blasted the shot into the roof of the net to tie the game 1-1.
Three minutes later Adi was again causing havoc for the Galaxy backline. He was brought down by LA’s defender Dan Gargan in the box. Portland completed three passes which placed the forward in prime position to score. Adi stepped up to take the PK, he mishit the shot but Galaxy’s keeper Donovan Ricketts failed to keep it out and the Timbers were now in front 2-1 at the 68th minute.
The terror of Adi was not over for the Galaxy. A few minutes later he received the ball inside the box and was forced to hold the ball with his back towards the goal.
He baited the Galaxy defense too attempt to steal the ball from him. Right before that happened he sent a crisp pass to Rodney Wallace. The Costa Rican international then centered the ball to the penalty spot.
Then the five-feet and eight-inches midfielder completed his run to the penalty spot. The Colombian soared in the air to give Portland the 3-1 lead with his head at the 74th minute. Los Angeles was in trouble but still had time to comeback.
Keane once again was the instrument to close the gap for LA. Substitute forward Jose Villarreal sent a curving and dipping ball into the heart of the box. The Irish international redirected the cross to the bottom left hand corner with his head. The Galaxy was now just down by a goal but time was not on their side, since it was the 84th minute.
However, any hope Keane’s second goal brought Nagbe crushed it eight seconds later. Timber’s substitute forward Maximiliano Urruti received a long ball in the air. The Argentinean forward rose up and flicked the ball behind him. Nagbe torched U.S. international defender Omar Gonzalez to control the ball.
Then Nagbe eluded a diving Ricketts and slotted the ball into the back of the net to make it 4-2. Five minutes later Portland delivered the final blow to the Galaxy with Urruti making it 5-2 in the 90th minute.
With that goal the Timbers comeback was complete. They responded to the one goal deficit with five unanswered goals in the second half to destroy LA.
“Soundly beaten, if I could tell you exactly it wouldn’t have happened but let’s give Portland credit,” a frustrated LA’s head coach Bruce Arena said after the defeat. “They dominated us in the second half and deserved to win the game. If you look at individual battles, their eleven against our eleven; they just thoroughly dominated us in a physical nature I’d say. It wasn’t tactical, it wasn’t anything more than I thought their desire to win that game and fight and work was much greater than ours.”
The Galaxy will have to rebound quickly if they want to hold on to the second seed in the Western Conference. LA needs to defeat Sporting Kansas City on Sunday at Sporting Park to secure a first round bye.
Portland with this result only needs to get a draw in their final match against the Colorado Rapids on Sunday to punch their spot in the MLS playoffs. The Timbers will face the Rapids at Providence Park.