Aug 4, 2018; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Timbers defender Larrys Mabiala (33) kicks the ball from Philadelphia Union midfielder Marcus Epps (20) in the first half at Providence Park. Mandatory Credit: Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports
The Portland Timbers weren’t sharp in the final third Saturday, but they took advantage of a few clear-cut opportunities to beat the Philadelphia Union 3-0.
Diego Valeri and Dairon Asprilla both scored penalties and David Guzman finished off the victory with a headed effort late in the second half.
Valeri scored the first spot kick, stepping up after Fabinho fouled Alvas Powell on the right side of the penalty area. The 32-year-old Argentine playmaker coolly sent his shot down the middle past Union goalkeeper Andre Blake.
Valeri won the second penalty in the 83rd minute, when Warren Creavalle clipped him from behind in the top right corner of the penalty area. Asprilla, who scuffed a chance near the left post minutes before, had enough power behind his penalty kick to beat Blake, even though the Union goalkeeper guessed the right way and made contact with the ball before it bounced past him.
Guzman caught Blake flat footed in the 87th minute, and he headed home his first goal of the season into the bottom-left corner of the net.
The Timbers were wasteful with their chances throughout the first half, especially in the final 10 minutes of the opening stanza. They created gaps between the Philadelphia defenders and exploited an advantage on the right wing against Fabinho.
While Portland was far from its best Saturday night, it received gifts from the Union on the pair of penalty concessions.
Although the Union benched some starters in anticipation of Wednesday’s U.S. Open Cup semifinal against the Chicago Fire, a pair of veterans, Fabinho and Creavalle, committed the errors.
Jim Curtin’s men created a few decent scoring opportunities in the second half. C.J. Sapong and Derrick Jones were both denied by Timbers goalie Jeff Attinella.
The Union’s full focus now shifts to the Open Cup semifinal and Saturday’s trip to New England, while the Timbers remain at home in Week 24 to face off with rival Vancouver on Saturday.