By Julie Ross
The Portland Timbers ground out a close first half against the Union before scoring a pair of quick goals off assists from Darren Mattocks in the second to earn a 2-1 win last night in Portland.
The loss left the Union with an 11-11-8 record and 41 points, five behind Eastern Conference-leading Toronto FC.
In the 21st minute, forward Fabian Herbers nearly put the Union on the board as he chased down a ball in behind the Timbers back line and went for the chip only to see Jake Gleeson charge down the ball, making the save.
Then, in the 32nd minute, Tranquillo Barnetta ran down a ball bouncing toward the Timbers’ end line and sent a sharp ball back to CJ Sapong in front of goal. The Union forward made solid contact with the ball, but could only throw his hands up as the ball slammed off the post and away.
The Timbers struck first in the second half, getting the ball quickly down the pitch off the opening kickoff and finding Mattocks on the left. Mattocks deftly beat his man and slipped a quick ball into the center of the pitch, finding the run over Diego Valeri for the simple finish.
As the Timbers celebrated, however, the Union immediately charged back into the match. Pushing the ball down the center of the pitch, moments after restarting play, the Union got the ball on the ground in the Timbers box before dropping it back to the late run of Chris Pontius, who fired his shot home past the dive of Gleeson.
The even scoreline would not remain for long, however, as the Timbers were able to get back in front in the 53rd minute. As the Timbers got the ball down the pitch on the left, again it was Mattocks making things happen for the home side. After bringing the ball down, Mattocks was able to cut inside and fire off a right footed shot, skipping the ball off the body of Fanendo Adi and into the back of the net to give the Timbers a 2-1 lead.
The Union kept up the pressure as they looked for an equalizer, but the Timbers were able to cope and looked to hit the Union on the break, putting the Philadelphia back line in difficult positions and eventually earning a red card for center back Joshua Yaro after a series of reckless tackles earned him his second yellow of the match.