Apr 14, 2018; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Timbers forward Fanendo Adi (9) celebrates after scoring a goal in the second half against Minnesota United at Providence Park. Mandatory Credit: Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports
Minnesota United was out of the match, and then back in. Then out. And in again. When the final whistle blew on a momentum-shifting Saturday night, Minnesota (2-4-0, 6 points) fell short of a comeback and lost 3-2 to the Portland Timbers (1-3-2, 5 points) at Providence Park.
A Darwin Quintero goal, a Timbers own goal, one negated by video review and a Diego Valeri misstep helped keep the Loons alive until the very end. But it wasn’t enough to deprive Portland of its first win of the year in front of an announced home crowd of 21,144.
“Fantastic. We’ve been working very hard to achieve this result,” Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese said. “We were looking forward to coming home. The past two games away we felt that we did a good job to earn three points, but the energy tonight from the fans gave us what we needed. To fight all the way to the end and get the result that we needed. I thought it was a very good first half and then never give up and continue to work throughout the entire match. [It] was a very important win for us.”
Portland took an early lead with back-to-back goals in the 21st and 24th minutes. Alvas Powell scored the first, ditching defenders to get a shot off. He then assisted on the next, crossing the ball to Diego Valeri, who stuck his leg out to send it shooting inside the far post.
“It was a great feeling to be back at Providence Park,” Powell said. “It was a really exciting moment to get my first goal and the first win. It was a great feeling.”
Minnesota nearly halved that 2-0 Timbers lead shortly after, but a potential Loons goal was negated by an offside call made after the official used VAR to review the play.
So the scoreline remained — thanks to a powerful Sebastián Blanco strike clanking the crossbar, a Miguel Ibarra header saved by diving Timbers keeper Jake Gleeson and other eye-widening plays — until minute 64.
That’s when Quintero received a short pass from teammate Carter Manley, quickly spun to evade a defender and then blew by another to sink a shot into the right side of Portland’s goal.
“A quick play, I was able to beat the two defenders and score under the goalkeeper’s legs,” said Quintero, Minnesota’s first designated player who signed two weeks ago from Mexican side Club América. “But when you score and the team doesn’t win, it doesn’t excite you much.”
Minutes before Quintero scored his first MLS goal in his debut for the Loons, he writhed in pain on the pitch following a studs-up challenge missed by the official. Quintero massaged his shin and showed off the cleat marks before resuming play and getting his team on the board.
Minnesota constantly pressured Portland in the box for the next 10 minutes. An equalizer seemed imminent — until a quick counterattack led to a Fanendo Adi goal that put the Timbers up 3-1. Four minutes later, Adi beat a defender to the ball and scored what would have been a decisive goal had the official not used to video review to deem him offside.
The score remained 3-1.
Portland shifted to a 4-4-1-1 formation in the second half to handle the Loons’ attack by getting more players wide. Savarese said he thought it helped, but also made things more difficult for the players in the middle of the field tasked with covering larger spaces.
“Minnesota did a good job in the second half to find the ball in between lines in the middle and then get it wide to create dangerous crosses, especially on the left side to put crosses right away finding the guys coming to the second post on the right side,” Savarese said. “We tried to close the spaces. It took us a little while and then I felt when we went to a 4-4-1-1 and we got a little more width, then it became a lot easier for us to be able to handle that. I felt the guys adjusted really well towards the end.”
In the 82nd minute, with rain coming down, Minnesota found another surge. Two Timbers flanked United’s Abu Danladi in an attempt to block him from receiving a long ball in front of goal. Portland’s Bill Tuiloma got a boot on it and scored an own goal instead.
During the first of four stoppage-time minutes, Portland again had an opportunity to close out the match when Valeri shot out on a breakaway and found himself alone at the top of the box, however an errant pass returned possession to Minnesota.
But the Loons could not find an equalizer and left with nothing. They will try again for a result in the Pacific Northwest with a trip to Seattle April 22. Portland will stay home again to host New York City FC the same day.
“Frustrated,” Minnesota coach Adrian Heath said. “I thought there was something there for us. I thought we were far and away the better team in the second half and large portions of the first. We gave two terrible goals away, which we’ve done a couple of times on the road. We gave ourselves a mountain to climb, but we kept on going. In the end, I’m disappointed we didn’t take anything from it.”