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Timbers - 2, LAFC - 0: Match Recap and Highlights
Two defenders provide the offense as the Timbers beat LAFC for the first time since 2021.
The Portland Timbers defeated LAFC 2-0 on Saturday night at Providence Park. Larrys Mabiala capitalized on a goalkeeping error to open the scoring in the 28th minute, and Claudio Bravo finished off a gorgeous flowing attacking move to double the lead in the 53rd minute.
The win was Portland’s first against LAFC since 2021, and kept Portland’s faint playoff hopes alive for another week.
Timbers interim head coach Miles Joseph rolled out mostly the same XI as he did last weekend in Seattle, with Eric Miller, Larrys Mabiala, and Claudio Bravo entering into a backline dealing with a number of absences.
There wasn’t much to separate the sides in the first half hour of the match, with shots coming at a premium. That all changed in the 28th minute, when a pair of howlers from LAFC goalkeeper John McCarthy in quick succession gifted the Timbers a corner kick — and then a goal.
McCarthy dove and whiffed at a corner — the second one in succession for the Timbers after McCarthy’s error handed them the first one — and the ball bounced right in front of the net. Larrys Mabiala was first to pounce, and he reacted to head the ball home and give the Timbers the lead.
After conceding, LAFC woke up. The visitors pushed hard for an equalizer, with Carlos Vela hitting post just minutes after the Timbers scored. Multiple LA attacking sequences got in behind the Timbers defense, but the backline did just enough to clear away the danger before the crucial moment.
Portland held firm and went into halftime with a one goal advantage. The Timbers outshot LAFC 4-3 despite being at nearly a 60%-40% possession disadvantage.
Even though they held LAFC without a shot on goal in the first half, the Timbers hadn’t earned a clean sheet win in MLS since June, so they entered the second half keen to get a second goal and cushion their advantage.
Eight minutes into the second frame they did just that — in gorgeous fashion. Claudio Bravo stepped to win the ball at midfield, and sprung the Timbers counter. Bravo found Evander, who laid it off for Yimmi Chara who then immediately found Moreno. Santi slipped in Bravo, who had continued his run, and the Argentine kept his composure and fired past McCarthy into the bottom corner, giving the Timbers a 2-0 lead.
Portland remained in control throughout the remainder of the second half, and the sputtering LAFC attack continued to sputter. The visitors never came terribly close to scoring, and were frankly flattered by the scoreline, as the home team could have tallied one or two more.
The full-time whistle blew with Portland racing away to a 2-0 victory. It was Portland’s first win against LAFC since 2021, and the first time they tallied consecutive home wins in league play all season.
11’ First real chance of the game falls to the Timbers, as a quick flowing counterattacking move ended in Moreno leaving the ball for a Mora shot just outside the box. Pipe’s attempt was off-balance however, and it flew well wide of the net.
28’ GOAL TIMBERS! 1-0 Larrys Mabiala scored the opening goal of the game after a pair of absolute howlers from LAFC ‘keeper John McCarthy handed it to Portland on a silver platter. First, he badly misread and missed on a through ball for Mora, gifting the Timbers a corner. Next, on the second corner in succession, McCarthy completely whiffed on the ball in, and Mabiala was first to it to apply the crucial header.
30’ LAFC HITS THE POST. With the green smoke still billowing Vela streaked past Bravo and puts an attempt just off the right upright.
After conceding, the visitors pushed hard for the equalizer, with multiple LAFC attacking moves coming close to generating shots.
44’ Moreno had a hard shot parried away by McCarthy, whom appeared to have put his two minutes of madness behind him.
HALFTIME: Timbers - 1, LAFC - 0
49’ Mabiala nearly tallied a brace, as he dove and put a header off a set piece just wide right out of the break.
53’ GOAL TIMBERS! 2-0 Claudio Bravo finishes off an absolutely gorgeous one-touch passing sequence from the Timbers, as he started off the move himself after winning the ball at midfield. The ball then pinged from Evander, to Yimmi Chara, to Moreno, and then to Bravo who took a touch and cooly slotted past McCarthy.
66’ Mora had a golden chance to make it three, but he got the through ball from Moreno caught in the spokes and couldn’t get the shot off.
66’ BIG SAVE BINGHAM! The Timbers goalkeeper came up big to push away a powerful shot from Bogusz.
76’ Franck Boli, introduced for Felipe Mora, forces a great save out of McCarthy, as the Ivorian sought to put the game to bed.
83’ Off a free kick, Vela curls a shot just high.
FULLTIME: Timbers - 2, LAFC - 0.
Don’t look know, but the Timbers are just outside of the playoff spots after putting in a candidate for one of their best games of the season. The Timbers were in control from essentially start to finish, and managed to capitalize on a reeling LAFC team that has seemingly forgot how to win games.
Portland’s effort all around the pitch was massive. From Mabiala’s opener, to Bravo’s tenacity and clinching goal, to Evander’s workman shift in harrying LAFC all night, to Diego Chara’s continued ageless brilliance, everyone in dark green put in a shift.
Doing it at both ends of the field must have felt particularly sweet to Mabiala, who has been getting a lot of flak from fans for his dip in form this season.
Bigger picture, this win was massive for Portland’s playoff hopes — which appear to be getting bigger by the week. The mountain is still steep and the Timbers will need to put in performances of this level in essentially every game remaining if they want to have a chance to make the postseason. But right now, because of a consecutive home league win for the first time all year, we can definitively say they still have a chance.
Next up: a trip to Texas. The Timbers square off against Austin FC at 5:30 p.m. PT on Sunday September 17 at Q2 Stadium, where the Timbers will do something else they have yet to do this season: win two games in a row.