The Houston Dynamo headed into Saturday’s late night Western Conference match against the Portland Timbers hoping to continue to improve on the road this season, but also get the bitter taste of the midweek bounce from the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. Unfortunately, Houston would end up falling to the Timbers at Providence Park [score]. Portland looked the stronger side, understandably so with Houston missing many starting players, but for much of the game it went back and forth. A couple of VAR calls going against Houston saw them lose to a very confident and talented Timbers side.
The opening minutes of the match were pretty back and forth with each side looking to feel the other team out. However, as the minutes ticked on the home side Timbers had begun to increase their pressure in the midfield and were getting several chances. Most of those chances came through Brian Fernández who got the equalizing goal in the previous meeting between these sides this year. In the 11th minute, Fernández received a ball in a good spot, turned himself around and fired a shot that was expertly saved by Joe Willis.
Portland would continue to control most of the play and dangerous opportunities, but Houston finally got a decent chance of their own shortly after the 20th minute. A great play on the left side of the field led to the ball being dummied before being passed to Matías Vera who shot it first time, but it was well off the mark.
The home side’s early pressure had slowed down to some degree after the 30th minute as the game began to get chippy. Diego Chara and Ronaldo Peña were shown yellow cards within a few minutes of each other following reckless challenges.
Marlon Hairston almost got Houston up on the Timbers in the 38th minute. A poor giveaway in the midfield by Portland led to counter by Hairston and the Dynamo. Hairston pulled the trigger after a short run to get closer to goal and the effort took a deflection which ricocheted off the crossbar.
One minute later the Timbers would open the scoring following a counter attack of their own. Diego Valeri sent a long ball to Jorge Moreira. Moreira calmly headed the ball down behind him to the trailing Marvin Loría. Loría rocketed it passed Willis. After a brief counsel with the VAR concerning a potential handball prior to the counter attack, head referee Alan Kelly allowed the goal to stand.
The Dynamo would get a good chance early in the second half with Oscar Boniek García picking out the run of Ronaldo Peña. A great slide by Julio Cascante pushed the ball away from danger just under Peña. The Timbers transitioned well again to respond to Houston’s chance with Diego Valeri picking out Brian Fernández. Fernández took a few dribbles and fired a shot that was just off target.
In the 58th minute DaMarcus Beasley appeared to take down Jorge Moreira inside the box resulting in Alan Kelly pointing to the penalty spot. Beasley slid in a little late, but the contact appeared minimal and Moreira certainly made the most of it. After some additional counsel by VAR the call stood and Valeri stepped up and sent Willis the wrong way to make it 2-0 to the home side.
In the 64th minute, Fernández got free on the counter attack and beat Willis with a very good finish. Fernández appeared to be an offside position when the ball was kicked to him by Valeri and the replay looked like he was off, but VAR ruled it a goal anyways.
After Fernández’s goal, Houston looked demoralized while Portland’s confidence was riding high. Portland continued to apply their high press and go for more while the Dynamo were content to try to prevent conceding more goals. Of course, when the Dynamo sit deeper, goals tend to happen and that’s what happened in the 75th minute as Valeri picked out Jeremy Ebobisse. Ebobisse cut inside to his weaker right foot and blasted one into the far corner. 4-0 to the Timbers.
After 90 minutes and some stoppage time the final whistle would blow with the Dynamo down goals 4-0 and likely down on themselves. The overall performance wasn’t poor as Portland may have gotten a little VAR luck – which Houston would like to borrow, please – but they seemed in control from the start of the game. The Dynamo did work their way back in it, but the Timbers’ ability to transition the ball quickly was a killer especially with so many key players out for Houston.
Next up is a Wednesday trip to the San Jose Earthquakes. Kickoff is at 9:30 PM CT at Avaya Stadium.
39’ POR: Marvin Loría (assisted by Moreira, Valeri)
61’ POR: Diego Valeri (penalty)
63’ POR: Brian Fernández (assisted by Diego Valeri)
75’ POR: Jeremy Ebobisse (assisted by Diego Valeri)
12’ POR: Julio Cascante (yellow card)
16’ HOU: Tomás Martínez (yellow card)
31’ POR: Diego Chara (yellow card)
34’ HOU: Ronaldo Peña (yellow card)
47’ HOU: Matías Vera (yellow card)
54’ POR: Diego Valeri (yellow card)
Houston Dynamo (4-3-3): Joe Willis; DaMarcus Beasley, Kevin Garcia, Kiki Struna, A.J. DeLaGarza; Oscar Boniek García, Matías Vera, Tomás Martínez (67’ Michael Salazar Jr.); Tommy McNamara, Ronaldo Peña, Marlon Hairston (76’ Juan David Cabezas)
Portland Timbers (4-2-3-1): Steve Clark; Julio Villafaña, Julio Cascante (83’ Claude Dielna), Jorge Moreira; Diego Chara, Renzo Zambrano; Jeremy Ebobisse, Diego Valeri, Marvin Loría (73’ Tomás Conechny); Brian Fernández (87’ Eryk Williamson)