Jun 15, 2013, 9:51 PM EST
In a brilliantly exciting match that featured 37 shots, it was the most unlikely one that picked up the huge three points for Portland.
Darlington Nagbe’s turn-around shot smashed the top corner of the net, and Dallas could do nothing to bring it back level, seeing their lead in the Western Conference sit at just one point.
Despite just the one goal, the match was entertaining to say the least, with goalkeeping at a world-class level and dangerous set-pieces dotting the landscape.
So what did this delightful two hours learn us?
1) Portland is peaking at the right time
It probably should have been more than just a one-goal gap between the teams as Diego Chara was stoned twice by Raul Fernandez and stuck a one-on-one chance wide, but the Timbers absolutely deserved the three points.
The new Western Conference leaders haven’t lost since March 9. It’s a real accomplishment that their unbeaten streak, which now sits at 13 matches, is still going strong – they’ve beaten the teams they should by scorelines they should (Portland 3-0 Chivas USA), salvaged gritty draws with tough opponents on the road (A surging Chicago 2-2 Portland), and picked up clutch wins against top teams when given the chance (Portland 1-0 FC Dallas, Kansas City 2-3 Portland).
With three straight away league matches before tonight, they picked up 5 points. The home shutout streak is up to over 480 minutes now, and even the most potent offenses can’t find an answer to Donovan Ricketts and his gang in front of goal.
Portland are in the middle of a stretch where they have to face 4 playoff-position teams in 6 matches, and the other two are in 6th place, plus Chicago. So that’s 6 top-6 clubs in 6 matches, plus Chicago. “They” always say peak at the end of the season, but by playing their best soccer yet during this stretch, it’s playing out perfectly for the Timbers.
2) Anyone is vulnerable when a team is missing players
Dallas’s “Big 3″ at the top were missing, and it showed. With Blas Perez on international duty with Panama and Kenny Cooper few home to take care of a family emergency, Eric Hassli only lasted 8 minutes before his back injury took its toll. That left David Arturo Ferreira and Je-Vaughn Watson to roam the attacking third, and it didn’t work out so well.
Let’s not take away from what Donovan Ricketts did between the sticks, as he was a major part of Portland’s win, stopping what chances the replacements were able to muster. But the Dallas buildup was seriously lacking at the front end, and it showed.
3) It’s the Western Conference’s season to lose
The top 3 clubs in the Western Conference this season have picked up 20 points from 13 matches against the East. The top 3 clubs in the Eastern Conference have just 15 points in 11 matches. That’s not a huge difference, but if it weren’t for Montreal, they’d have just 5 points in 7 matches.
The Western Conference has beaten up on each other, but this is their season to drop the ball.
Jan 31, 2015, 11:20 PM EST
Diego Costa has again claimed his own innocence. And you know what? I believe that he believes he’s done nothing wrong.
Jan 31, 2015, 10:43 PM EST
Big Sam was quick to take the credit away from Liverpool and place the blame for Saturday’s loss on his own injury “crisis.”
Jan 31, 2015, 9:24 PM EST
Van Gaal remembers what happened last time his side led Leicester, and he learns his lessons the first time.
Jan 31, 2015, 8:30 PM EST
All of the day’s confirmed, officially official transfer dealings from Saturday, Jan. 31.
Jan 31, 2015, 7:27 PM EST
The actual games took a backseat to shenanigans as two of four semifinals places were booked on Saturday.
Jan 31, 2015, 5:45 PM EST
All of Saturday’s action from Spain and Italy.
Jan 31, 2015, 4:57 PM EST
Arsenal and Southampton hope to keep their assaults on the Top Four in order, while Aston Villa and Swansea City hope to snap skids.
Jan 31, 2015, 4:19 PM EST
And to think, we’ve still a pair of Sunday matches on the slate. Let’s go through what’s done and dusted.
Jan 31, 2015, 3:40 PM EST
There were eight games in the PL on a busy Saturday. Here’s how it all went down with recaps, analysis and much more.
Jan 31, 2015, 3:20 PM EST
Manchester City’s boss thought his charges were very good, but is disappointed to snare a solitary point against Chelsea.
Jan 31, 2015, 3:12 PM EST
Lampard was the last player on the pitch, saluting both groups of supporters.
Jan 31, 2015, 3:06 PM EST
What did we learn from the tense draw at Stamford Bridge? Here’s three things.
Jan 31, 2015, 2:47 PM EST
Giving Chelsea and City’s players a mark out of 10.
Jan 31, 2015, 2:21 PM EST
All the goal scoring came within the 41st and 45th minutes at Stamford Bridge, as City failed to cut into Chelsea’s first-place advantage.
Jan 31, 2015, 2:00 PM EST
Want to see Benzema’s brilliant bender? Of course you do.
Jan 31, 2015, 1:40 PM EST
Blind believes United are getting close to what LVG expects.
Jan 31, 2015, 1:21 PM EST
It started off slow and tentative, but the big match between Chelsea and Manchester City is opening up
Jan 31, 2015, 1:04 PM EST
Moyesy is learning Spanish from a Manchester United fan…
Jan 31, 2015, 12:50 PM EST
For the Toffees, defense is the way forward for the rest of the season.
Jan 31, 2015, 12:33 PM EST
“It’s always difficult to be honest when you’ve had a long break,” Defoe said. “But I’ve had a mini-pre-season and I’m getting sharper and sharper.”
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