[MLS] The Portland Timbers could have been forgiven for coming out flat against FC Dallas at Jeld-Wen Field Sunday, just 68 hours after drowning Chicago, 4-2, in a rousing, rain-sodden launch to their MLS existence.
Instead, skies of blue framed waves of fans in yellow and green as the Timbers flattened the 2010 MLS Cup finalist, 3-2, Sunday afternoon by dominating play for the first 75 minutes and then hanging on through a late, desperate Dallas rally. Kalif Alhassan strengthened his claim as one of the most exciting left mids in the league by setting up the first and third goals by Jack Jewsbury and Rodney Wallace, respectively, and Kenny Cooper scored his second of the season on a Jewsbury corner kick; unlike the one they combined for Thursday night, this one counted.
In Alhassan, a native of Ghana, and Colombian forward Jorge Perlaza, the Timbers have two bold, crafty players with good speed. Alhassan evaded four opponents to poke the ball in the direction of Wallace, who repeated his feat of Thursday night by blasting home a goal from long-range. He got some luck on this one, as it bounced off the post and then rebounded into the net off keeper Kevin Hartman, and it turned out to be the game-winner.
Having thrilled their fans by again scoring early and then padding the lead, the Timbers tacked on a tense, tired conclusion as perhaps the emotion and effort of the past four days finally drained them. David Ferreira and Brek Shea set up each other for goals three minutes apart, and had not Ferreira’s stoppage-time shot hit the post, Portland would have reversed fellow expansion entry Vancouver’s feat of falling behind, 3-0, before rallying to tie, 3-3, at Empire Field two weeks ago. The ‘Caps also won their home opener, 4-2.
They may not yet have established themselves as bonafide playoff contenders, but in their first few home games the Northwest expansion entries are brimming with entertainment value. Even though Vancouver played a 0-0 tie with Chivas USA Saturday at Empire Field, both the 'Cap and Timbers have scored nine goals and conceded 10, and already taken their places among the top venues in MLS for excitement and noise.