Timbers coach Caleb Porter didn’t stray from his business-like approach to the season even after Portland downed the two-time defending league champion Los Angeles Galaxy to gain crucial playoff position.
“First thing I said was, ‘We’ve still got work to do,’” he said of his postgame address.
The 1-0 victory Sunday solidified Portland’s hold on third place in the Western Conference with a 12-5-13 record and four matches to go. Portland is undefeated in its last four matches as it continues its bid for its first postseason appearance since joining Major League Soccer in 2011.
Maximiliano Urruti gave Portland the win with his first MLS goal, a deftly executed flick in the 52nd minute that fooled Los Angeles goalkeeper Jaime Penedo. Urruti was acquired by the Timbers this month from Toronto FC, which had signed him in August from Argentina’s top division Newell’s Old Boys.
Galaxy forward Robbie Keane appeared to score the equalizer early in stoppage time but he was called offsides. Both Keane and Landon Donovan had an animated argument with officials while coach Bruce Arena shouted from the sidelines. Arena also confronted the referees on the field after the match.
Afterward, Arena was diplomatic.
“It’s close, obviously. If he’s (the linesman) right, credit to him,” Arena said. “We’ve been in a lot of games this year where the plays aren’t even close and they don’t have them right. So if he had it right, more credit to him.”
Los Angeles (13-11-6) remained in fourth place in the West with the loss. The Galaxy are winless in their last four matches.
Donovan returned to Los Angeles’ starting lineup after nursing a sprained left ankle that kept him out of the team’s last MLS match, a 1-1 draw against the Seattle Sounders last weekend.
But his streak of either a goal or an assist in seven straight matches was snapped against the Timbers. He had a dangerous free kick from the side in the 74th minute, but it was headed away by Portland defender Pa-Modou Kah.
The match was played in a nearly constant downpour with gusty wind as the remnants of a Pacific typhoon rolled through the region. And it looked as though it was weighing on both teams.
The Timbers had just two shots on goal in the first half, compared to seven for the Galaxy. But Portland increasingly challenged Penedo after the break.
Shortly after Urruti’s goal, Rodney Wallace fired a hard shot at Penedo, who dove and deflected it with his fingertips.
Urruti was making just his fifth appearance in a league match. He played in two matches for Toronto before coming to the Timbers.
Portland was coming off a 1-0 victory over the Colorado Rapids last weekend.
“These last two games we knew were very important,” Timbers defender Jack Jewsbury said. “A week ago they were ahead of us and we knew these were going to be crucial matches for us to be in the playoffs and try and position ourselves. We feel good about it, but there’s still some work to do.”
The Timbers and Galaxy played to a scoreless draw in Los Angeles on June 19, and the Timbers earned a 2-1 victory in Portland on July 13.