MLS Focus: Portland gets back over red line with win over depleted Toronto FC

The Portland Timbers' 2-0 win over Toronto FC on Wednesday night at Providence Park had big implications in the playoff races in both conferences.



The Timbers' victory ended a four-game losing streak and put them back into fifth place in the Western Conference just three days after their 1-0 Cascadia Cup loss at home to Seattle dropped them below the red line for the first time since April.

With Wednesday's loss, Toronto FC used up one of the two games in hand it had on sixth-place Montreal and still trails the Impact by six points. It also blew an opportunity to pull ahead of eighth-place D.C. United, which lost at home to Philadelphia, 2-0, earlier in the evening.
 
Second-half goals by midfielders Diego Chara and David Guzman gave the Timbers the win. Chara's goal in the 64th minute ended Portland's scoring drought that had reached 299 minutes. Guzman sealed the win in the 83rd minute after he stripped TFC captain Michael Bradley, playing in the back, of the ball.

"We needed the points," said Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese, "and the guys put in a great performance, a lot of energy into the game to be able to get the result we wanted. For us, today, playing at home, it was a necessity to be able to get three points."

With both teams having played this past weekend and having games on Saturday back on the East Coast -- Portland at New England, Toronto FC at home against LAFC -- they shuffled their lineups.

The game marked Jorge Villafana's first Portland appearance since being re-acquired three weeks ago, while Lucas Melano, who returned from on loan in Argentina, appeared in his first MLS game since October 2016.

TFC traveled without its top three scorers -- Sebastian Giovinco, Jonathan Osorio and Victor Vazquez (25 goals and 25 assists combined) -- as well as starting defenders Drew Moor and Gregory van der Wiel.

Bradley said the travel and quick turnaround are things all teams have to deal with.

"We came and we put a team on the field that we thought could go for it and thought physically was ready for the game," he said. "I thought by and large we handled things pretty well.

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