The Portland Timbers continued their recent surge up the Western Conference table, taking a 2-1 victory over LAFC at Providence Park on Sunday evening behind a first-half goal from Dairon Asprilla and a game-winner from George Fochive.
Cristian Arango netted a first-half penalty kick for LAFC to draw the visitors level after Asprilla's 21st-minute opener, but Fochive's second-half header stood as the difference and moved the Timbers' unbeaten streak to five games. The result puts Portland on the verge of overtaking the LA Galaxy for the West's No. 4 seed in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs race, while LAFC stay behind eighth-placed Minnesota United FC.
The Timbers opened the scoring during a fast-and-furious first half courtesy of a rebound header from Asprilla. The 29-year-old Colombian pounced on the deflection after an initial header from Sebastian Blanco bounced off the crossbar at the back-end of a corner kick, putting the hosts on top with his sixth goal of the season. The opener came in the direct aftermath of a golden opportunity on the other end for LAFC that saw Brian Rodriguez sky an open look into the stands.
But Portland couldn't hold the lead, as they conceded a penalty kick just minutes after Asprilla's goal. Blanco was called for a handball in his own box while trying to block a free kick from Jose Cifuentes, allowing Arango to cash home the equalizer from the spot for his fifth straight match with a goal.
LAFC came inches from a spectacular go-ahead goal in the 47th minute when Cifuentes saw Portland goalkeeper Steve Clark off his line and scorched an audacious shot from 40 yards out that looked destined for the top corner, but the post denied the Ecuadorian what would have been an incredible golazo. Cifuentes had another golden opportunity in the 64th minute, finding himself wide open in front of goal as Arango found him on a counterattack, but he pushed the gaping look wide.
It proved to be a huge miss, as the Timbers struck for the go-ahead goal just minutes later. Fochive did the honors with another close-range header set up by a deflected cross from Blanco — a tally that would stand as the decisive goal.
- 21' - POR - Dairon Asprilla
- 27' - LAFC - Cristian Arango (PK)
- 68' - POR - George Fochive
- THE BIG PICTURE: Portland are now 4W-0L-1D over their last five matches, while LAFC's three-game winning streak was snapped. Gio Saverese's group continues to look like a force to be reckoned with in the West. Meanwhile, LAFC will be frustrated to leave Providence Park with no points given the quality of chances they generated.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Jose Cifuentes had a strong game for LAFC overall, but he'll be seeing this one in his nightmares – especially since Fochive found the game-winner on the other end so soon after.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Sebastian Blanco's return from injury has driven Portland as of late, and the Argentine veteran played a key role in both of his team's goals. He hit the header that created the rebound opportunity for Asprilla and the cross that fell to Fochive for the winner.
- LAFC: Saturday, September 25 at San Jose Earthquakes | 7:00pm PT (My13 KCOP, Estrella TV)