Midfielder Diego Valeri recorded two assists, forward Ryan Johnson scored his eighth goal of the season and forward Darlington Nagbe his seventh goal as the Portland Timbers defeated FC Dallas 2-1 before a sellout crowd of 20,674 at JELD-WEN Field on Saturday night.
The Timbers (9-3-11, 38pts) move to within three points of Western Conference-leader and Supporters' Shield frontrunner Real Salt Lake, and have two games in hand. Portland and Real Salt Lake square off Wednesday, Aug. 21, at JELD-WEN Field at 8 p.m. (Pacific).
The Timbers and FC Dallas (8-7-9, 33pts) scored all three goals within a seven-minute span in the first half, with Portland's Johnson and Nagbe giving the home side a 2-1 lead heading into halftime. The Timbers defense held FC Dallas to just one shot on goal in the second half to close out the victory and extend their home unbeaten run in league play to nine games.
Valeri assisted on both Timbers goals, recording his fourth multi-assist game of the season, and has assisted on each of the club's last six regular-season goals.
Portland finished the regular-season series against FC Dallas with an unbeaten record of 2-0-1, and earned a 3-0-1 record against the Hoops across all competitions in 2013.
The capacity crowd marked the Timbers' 45th consecutive sellout at JELD-WEN Field since joining MLS in 2011.
A hard-working effort by midfielder Ben Zemanski set up the Timbers' corner kick that led to the opening goal in the 26th minute. From the right side, Valeri sent the ball in to the top of the six-yard box. Johnson out-jumped the pack and headed the ball under the crossbar of the right side of the goal, finding the back of the net in a fourth straight match at JELD-WEN Field.
FC Dallas equalized two minutes later, tying the match at 1-1. Quick passes between forward Blas Pérez and midfielder Fabian Castillo allowed Castillo to play midfielder Mauro Díaz into the area. Diaz was the first to the ball and was able to poke the ball around Portland goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts, charging off his line, into the back of the net for his first goal of the season.
Nagbe's fourth goal in four games across all competitions against FC Dallas this season helped the Timbers regain the lead in the 33rd minute. Zemanski won a knockdown in the midfield circle, allowing Valeri to gain possession of the ball and initiate the attack. Valeri played a perfectly weighted ball to Nagbe just inside the right side of the box and Nagbe calmly finished his career-best seventh goal of the season.
The Timbers continue a stretch of three matches in nine days Wednesday against Real Salt Lake. The matchup will be televised live on ROOT SPORTS, with radio broadcasts available on 750 The Game and in Spanish on La Pantera 940AM.
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