Chivas USA 0 : 5 Portland
by Steve Clare, Stubhub Center, Carson CA
Portland recorded their biggest ever MLS win by hammering a hapless Chivas USA 0-5 in California. This was the second successive 5-0 loss for the Goats at their own stadium.
The visitors had this game won by half time after a brace by Diego Valeri and a third by Rodney Wallace secured a three goal half time lead. The two Johnsons added a goal each in the second half. Chivas best chance came in 79 when Ricketts saved a point blank Erick Torres header from a Fondy cross.
Portland also broke the record for fewest losses in a 34 game season. The two teams with four losses played 30 and 32 games.
Victory secured Portland top slot in the Western Conference but coach Porter vowed to remain “grounded, humble and hungry” for the coming challenge of the Play-offs.
The Timbers coach put out a full strength side with Jose Valencia up front. Costa Rican Rodney Wallace slotted in at left midfield.
The first half was dominated by the visitors, with an embarrassing ease.
Darlington Nagbe burst through the centre as early as the 4th minute, and found Wallace whose cross came to naught and passed across the goal harmlessly.
Nagbe crossed again when he perhaps should have shot seven minutes later when skipper Will Johnson set him up superbly. The diminutive number six’s cross was less threatening than any shot would have been. Wallace though actually did shoot two minutes later when he perhaps ought to have crossed, hitting a well placed Chivas keeper Tim Melia from a narrow angle.
Nagbe fired wide more tamely from a distance two minutes later but the writing on the wall was as plain as the dark green of the many empty seats.
The inevitable avalanche began in 16th, Valeri finishing the move after the defense surrendered the ball carelessly inside their own half. Will Johnson set up Jose Valencia whose shot was initially blocked by Chivas defender Carlos Bocanegra. The ball fell kindly to the Argentinian who completed his personal hat trick against Chivas, scoring in his third straight game against them.
2-0 was not far away.
Valeri chipped Melia in 27 with the keeper too far off his line and recorded the single season Timbers record of ten for any Timbers player in doing so. The goal looked great but the reality was that poor positioning played a part in making a weak chip so successful.
Shortly after that calamity, defender Jaime Frias became the first of three pre-interval Chivas substitutes, being replaced by Josue Soto. The coach Jose Real barely spoke to the departing player after he exited and cited the change as ‘tactical’ at half time.
Wallace made it three on 34 minutes with a deft outside of the boot flick after Valeri had poked the ball in from the right for his third assist of the season against the Goats to equal his three goals.
Chivas coach Real was so annoyed with what he had seen that he pulled off two more players, Bryan De La Fuente and Edgar Mejia for Julio Morales and Matthew Fondy, thus using the last of his substitutes within 43 minutes.
The interval saved Chivas further pummelling during which Kalif Alhassan replaced two goal hero Valeri. Four was not far away. Melia pushed over a Jack Jewsbury header six minutes into the second half as the Portland onslaught continued.
Julio Morales finally looked to be providing a threat for Chivas winning a free kick from a clumsy Alhassan challenge, Torres’ poor free kick hit the wall on a night where Chivas proved they need even more of a player restock than even Vancouver or Toronto.
Valencia left the field for Ryan Johnson in 61, giving the Jamaican half an hour to remind everyone why he was once the club’s top scorer. The start was uninspiring. He scooped over a great chance in 69 and never looked like beating a defender or hitting the target.
Nagbe was the last to leave on Porter’s orders, replaced by Ben Zemanski with 20 minutes or so left. Ryan Johnson however successfully buried a far easier chance however after Melia palmed out a Wallace shot way too close to the on rushing Jamaican, on a night that was quickly becoming forgettable for the stand in keeper.
The fifth was not far away.
Carlos Borja hauled down Will Johnson marginally outside the area. The fouled Canadian repeated his party trick against San Jose by firing the kick straight in for a 0-5 lead with a full 15 minutes to go.
The consolation goal nearly came when Torres caused Ricketts to do some work, heading too close to the giant Jamaican from a Fondy cross
The only concern left for Caleb Porter was another injury to Ricketts shortly after which necessitated the trainers entering to tend to the prostrate keeper.
After the match, Ricketts admitted with a smile he had caught his foot in the turf and there was no cause for any concern about his fitness.
Zemanski should have had an assist having fed Alhassan a clean passage through to Melia. For no reason, Alhassan blasted the ball over with no excuses for not hitting the target.
That was all she wrote and Portland finished the season as the “Best in the West” as their fans chanted after the final whistle.
Coming up: Exclusive interviews with Donovan Ricketts, Mike Harrington and Will Johnson