Two second-half goals from forward Ryan Johnson and a solid defensive performance guided the Portland Timbers to a 2-0 shutout victory over the Houston Dynamo before a sellout crowd of 20,674 at JELD-WEN Field on Saturday night.
The Timbers held firm defensively in the first half despite having two players leave the match due to injury, as the Dynamo attempted just one shot on goal. Houston is one of the league's best defensive teams in second half, but the Timbers unlocked the Dynamo back line for two goals in the second half on Johnson's strikes in the 55th and 73rd minutes on their way to their first win of the 2013 campaign.
Portland's defense held Houston, which ranks among the Eastern Conference's goal-scoring leaders, to just two shots on goal – a season-low by an opponent – on its way to securing its first shutout of the season.
Johnson recorded the first two-goal performance of his MLS career, midfielder Diego Chara and forward Darlington Nagbe logged assists and goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts made two saves to pick up the clean sheet for the Timbers, helping head coach Caleb Porter earn his first victory as an MLS coach.
With the victory, the Timbers (1-1-3, 6pts) extend their unbeaten streak to three matches and are one of just seven clubs with one or fewer losses this season. Portland has earned a result in four of its first five matches of the season.
Goalkeeper Tally Hall made four saves and midfielder Adam Moffat attempted a team-high two shots for Houston (3-2-0, 9pts), who was held scoreless for the first time this season in the loss.
Portland struck for the opening goal 10 minutes into the second half. From the right wing, Chara delivered a pinpoint cross into the box for Johnson on a run at the back post, and Johnson one-timed the ball from close range. Johnson's second goal of the season lifted the Timbers to a 1-0 lead and gave the club their first lead of the season.
A well-played ball from Nagbe from midfield to Johnson running down the left channel led to the Timbers second goal of the night in the 73rd minute. Johnson attacked the left side of the penalty area and drove a shot by Hall and into the back of the net. It was the eighth second-half goal scored by the Timbers this season, the second-most in MLS.
The Timbers were forced to make two substitutions in the first half due to injury. Defender David Horst sustained a right knee injury early in the match after colliding and tangling with Houston forward Giles Barnes in the box. Midfielder Diego Valeri took an elbow to the face from Dynamo defender Jermaine Taylor while challenging for an aerial ball near midfield and left the match in the 29th minute.
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