Jun 15, 2013, 9:51 PM EDT
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.
Sep 1, 2014, 11:30 PM EDT
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Sep 1, 2014, 10:30 PM EDT
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Sep 1, 2014, 10:29 PM EDT
From a 18-year-old Jamaican-English midfielder to a 34-year-old veteran goalkeeper, this team takes a ride through all types of players.
Sep 1, 2014, 9:38 PM EDT
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Sep 1, 2014, 8:48 PM EDT
Rebecca Lowe, Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe bring you plenty of analysis on the summer transfer window’s Deadline Day.
Sep 1, 2014, 8:45 PM EDT
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Sep 1, 2014, 8:32 PM EDT
Falcao signs for United, arrives on loan from Monaco with view to a permanent transfer.
Sep 1, 2014, 8:09 PM EDT
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Sep 1, 2014, 7:26 PM EDT
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Sep 1, 2014, 7:13 PM EDT
The biggest confirmed transfers on Deadline Day including Premier League teams.
Sep 1, 2014, 6:40 PM EDT
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Sep 1, 2014, 6:33 PM EDT
Alderweireld arrives on loan, as Mane deal agreed.
Sep 1, 2014, 6:23 PM EDT
Negredo leaves City, heads back to Spain to play for Valencia.
Sep 1, 2014, 5:55 PM EDT
Watch live online, right here.
Sep 1, 2014, 5:42 PM EDT
Hull busy on Deadline Day as Ramirez joins on loan, plus Ben Arfa.
Sep 1, 2014, 5:37 PM EDT
In the words of NHL commentator Rick Jeanneret, roll the highlight reel for Ibra, Cavani and PSG, and the lowlight reel for one poor keeper.
Sep 1, 2014, 4:40 PM EDT
Not a huge risk for Arsenal, but certainly a good bit of business for United. Could Welbeck become the next Daniel Sturridge?
Sep 1, 2014, 4:18 PM EDT
Jermain Defoe, Danny Welbeck and Hatem Ben Arfa all make one last run through the rumor mill as the deadline draws near.
Sep 1, 2014, 4:11 PM EDT
McArthur and Fryers arrive at Selhurst Park.
Sep 1, 2014, 3:49 PM EDT
The Dutch international rejoins his World Cup boss for four seasons at “the biggest club in the world.”
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