Timbers rally for 3-1 win over Philadelphia in season opener
As it had been for the home opener nearly a year before, it was a very wet evening at JELD-WEN Field, with the rain getting heavier as the evening progressed, and the wind swirling at pitch level. After going down 1-0 in the second half, the Timbers would rally for three straight goals for a 3-1 win in the season opener in front of 20,438 at at Portland’s JELD-WEN Field.
It was in the eight minute when the Timbers would have the first good chance of the match, when Eric Alexander got to the end of a low cross through the box, and his attempted curling shot was tipped just wide of the goal by Philadelphia goalkeeper Zac MacMath. In the 21st minute, it was Portland’s Kris Boyd slipping through and getting a brief open look at the top of the box, but MacMath came off his line and nicely slid in to block the chance.
The best chance Philadelphiawould have in the first half would be in the 42nd minute when Michael Farfan had the ball on his feet in the box, but attempted to pass rather than a possible shot. The Timbers had a good late cross by Lovell Palmer that was tipped wide by MacMath, but neither team threatened again, and a first half with little action was 0-0 at the half.
The weather was getting no better, but two minutes into the second half the Timbers had a great chance when the ball rebounded through to Kalif Alhassan, whose shot was deflected, then cleared off the line by Philadelphia’s Carlos Valdez. But then in the 51st minute, very much against the run of play, the Union would score their first goal against the Timbers in over 230 minutes of play when a free kick by Gabriel Gomez appeared to be re-directed byPortland’s Andrew Jean-Baptiste, and past Timbers goalkeeper Troy Perkins. Initially scored as an own goal, it was later credited to Gomez, but either way theUnion had a 1-0 lead.
Seconds later, the Timbers had a good chance to equalize when MacMath punched the ball out to Alhassan, but his blast from 20 yards was just over the crossbar.
But it only took three minutes for Jean-Baptiste to make amends, and once again it would be on a free kick as Timbers captain Jack Jewsbury took the kick, and the header by Jean-Baptiste did not appear particularly threatening, but MacMath fumbled the save into the net, and within minute, the Timbers had leveled the score at 1-1.
In the 57th minute, with the Timbers now clearly feeling momentum was on their side, a low cross from Rodney Wallace was fumbled by MacMath, though he did well to block a rebound shot from Diego Chara. Then in the 66th minute, the Timbers would take the lead when Alhassan made a nice cross from the right side that was met by a diagonal run by Boyd, whose header was a near-replay of his first Timbers exhibition goal against AIK, once again settling into the left side of the net, and the Timbers had a 2-1 lead.
The Timbers nearly added a third in the 73rd minute when it was Boyd once again with the header attempt, this time off a Jewsbury corner kick, but the ball was cleared off the line by Freddy Adu.
But just minutes later, off a quick restart by Jewsbury, Alhassan did well to elude the Union defense and chipped MacMath from a tight angle and whether a cross attempt, or another of the chip goals Alhassan has made a name for himself with, it was a brilliant finish, and the Timbers had surged out to a 3-1 lead.
Philadelphia’s Jack McInerney had one of the few good chances for the Unionin the 81st minute when his blast was just wide left. In the 87th minute,Portland’s Jewsbury did well to curve a free kick around the Union wall, but the ball was smothered well by MacMath. It would be the last good chance of the match for either team, and the Timbers would open their sophomore campaign in MLS with a 3-1 victory.
The victory also marked the first time the MLS Timbers had rallied from a goal behind to win.