By James Morgan
In a convincing and rain-drenched performance augmented by a sold-out crowd, the Portland Timbers defeated the Chicago Fire 4-2 on Thursday night in their home opener at Jeld-Wen Field to earn their first victory in regular season MLS play. Columbian striker Jorge Perlaza fulfilled his rumoured promise and scored the first goal of the match with a shattering burst of speed and an assist from midfielder Kalif Alhassan.
Timbers defender Rodney Wallace scored an unassisted goal in the 38th minute off of a Jack Jewsbury penalty kick, and the Timbers, who have shown steady improvement since their disastrous season opener against current MLS champs, Colorado, entered the second half up 2-0.
Three minutes into the second half, Perlaza again demonstrated the speed, skill and opportunism that made him such a desireable player, and knocked it in to score his second career MLS goal.
However, as the tempo of the game began to slow, the Timbers back-line was caught slacking and in the 66th minute, Fire midfielder and known threat, Guatemalan Marco Pappa, forced an own goal off of Timbers defender Eric Brunner.
Matters worsened for the Timbers in the 81st minute when the deadly Guatemalan lobbed a shot across the box and into the upper left corner. Third string Timbers goalkeeper, Jake Gleeson, in for the still-injured Troy Perkins and Adin Brown, got a hand on it, but couldn’t bat it away.
In the 83rd minute, however, in a mad scramble which may well have involved some shennanigans, Mamadou “Futty” Danso knocked in an own goal off of Chicago defender Dasan Robinson, and the match entered three minutes of stoppage time with the Timbers two points ahead.
The win gives the Timbers (1-2-1) a much-needed three points in the standings for a total of four, moving them out of last place in the MLS Western Conference.