CARSON, Calif. – The Portland Timbers
clinched first place in the Western Conference and the conference's top seed
heading into the 2013 MLS Cup Playoffs with a comprehensive, 5-0 win against
Chivas USA on the road at StubHub Center on Saturday night.
The Timbers finished the regular season on an eight-match unbeaten run and a Western Conference-best 14-5-15 (57pts) record. Portland will enter its first MLS postseason as the No. 1 seed in the conference, and will face the winner of the knockout game between the No. 4 and No 5 seeds in the Western Conference semifinals.
With the win, the Timbers capped their best regular season as an MLS side. In 2013, Portland set new single-season club records in points (57), wins (14), goals (54), goal differential (+21), shutouts (15) and fewest goals allowed (33). Portland finished the regular season with an plus-21 goal differential – one of the best in MLS. The Timbers realized a plus-43 improvement in goal differential, year-to-year from 2012, to set a new MLS record.
The Timbers finished the regular season with five losses, tied for the fewest in MLS history during a 34-game regular season.
Midfielder Diego Valeri factored into all three of Portland's three first-half goals against Chivas USA (6-20-8, 26pts). Valeri scored the first two goals in the 15th and 26th minutes, and set up Rodney Wallace for the club's third goal in the 34th minute as the Timbers went up 3-0. Forward Ryan Johnson and midfielder Will Johnson each scored in the second half to help the Timbers to an important road win.
With five goals against Chivas USA, Timbers recorded the largest margin of victory by a road team in MLS this season. It also set Timbers MLS club records for largest margin of victory, most goals scored in a game and most goals scored in a road game.
Valeri, with 10 goals and 13 assists on the season, became the first Timbers MLS player to record 10 or more goals and assists in a single season, and is now tied for the Timbers MLS career lead in assists. The Timbers also set an MLS record with four different players recording nine or more goals during the regular season.
Portland's defense recorded a fifth shutout in the last six games in the win over Chivas USA, and goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts made four saves to pick up his league-leading 14th clean sheet of the regular season.
Valeri opened the scoring in the 16th minute. An attempted clearing play by Chivas USA from their own penalty area put the ball at Valeri's feet just inside the area, and the midfielder ripped a shot inside the left post for his ninth goal of the season.
Portland doubled its lead in the 29th minute as Valeri intercepted an errant pass by Chivas USA in their defensive half near midfield. Valeri charged in on goal, cut the ball back to his right foot just outside the box and chipped a shot over Chivas USA goalkeeper Tim Melia well off his line. The goal was Valeri's 10th of the season and became the first Timbers MLS player to record 10 or more goals in a single season.
Valeri then set up Wallace for his seventh goal of the season in the 34th minute. A long pass up field by defender Futty Danso found Valeri down the right flank. Valeri slipped a pass into the box, between the legs of Chivas USA defender Carlos Bocanegra, to find Wallace slashing through the area. Wallace one-timed a shot by Melia to give the Timbers a 3-0 lead and mark the first time in the Timbers' MLS history in which they recorded three goals in the first half of a match.
The Timbers added to their lead in the second half. In the 72nd minute, Wallace drove in from the left side and put a hard shot on frame that Melia was only able to knock down. Ryan Johnson, a second-half sub, was in position to pounce on the free ball and convert his ninth goal of the season for a 4-0 Portland lead.
Four minutes later, it was Will Johnson with a free-kick goal to cap the scoring in the 5-0 victory. From just beyond the edge of the box on the left side, Johnson drilled a curling shot through an opening in the wall and off the fingertips of a diving Melia before the ball bounced into the back of the net for his ninth goal of the season.
Release from Portland Timbers