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Match report: Portland Timbers 3-0 Philadelphia Union

Photo: Peter Andrews

A second-choice lineup provided little joy for Philadelphia Union on Saturday night, conceding two penalties and mustering precious little offense en route to a 3-0 defeat by Portland Timbers in the Rose City.

Diego Valeri and Dairon Asprilla converted the penalties for the Timbers, while David Guzman added a late header off a free kick to send Philadelphia out of Oregon with zero points.

With a semifinal in the U.S. Open Cup impending in midweek, Jim Curtin rolled out a raft of changes to his normally static starting XI. Reserve midfielders Derrick Jones and Warren Creavalle replaced the experienced duo of Alejandro Bedoya and Haris Medunjanin, while second-choice wingers Marcus Epps and Fabian Herbers got starts on the wing. Fabinho started over Ray Gaddis at left back. Player absences accounted for the other two changes — C.J. Sapong started at striker with Cory Burke missing through illness, and Jack Elliott filled in for the injured Mark McKenzie.

The Union started the match with a spell of dominance, as the home side seemed content to sit back and absorb pressure. Jones, awarded his first start for the senior team in over a year, looked sharp as he popped up all over the midfield. He had the first shot of the match, a looping header off a corner that went well wide of the net.

As has been the case for much of the season, the Union’s toothless finishing undercut their dominance in possession. The sole shot on target in the first half was a 24th minute curler from Sapong, forcing a leaping save from Portland keeper Jeff Attinella. More typical of the half was Sapong whiffing entirely on a nice cutback from Herbers in the 30th minute, as the striker completely failed to make contact with the ball as it came to him on the edge of the box.

The Timbers grew into the match as the half went on, but they also could not find end product. In the 34th minute, Diego Chara found his way deep into the Union box and clipped a ball toward four of his crashing teammates, but Andy Polo’s leaping side-footed attempt went high from barely eight yards out. Andre Blake was called into action moments later as Diego Valeri found Samuel Armenteros off a free kick, but the Swede’s soft shot barely troubled the Union keeper.

Both teams came out of the gate with a bit more purpose in the second half, as though their coaches reminded them that the point of the game is to win. Borek Dockal’s ambitious attempt to chip the keeper from kickoff set the tone for the half’s first ten minutes.

In the 51st minute, Jones had the Union’s best chance of the match, as his late run put him alone in the far side of the box just as Fabinho’s cross arrived. After a good touch to settle, Jones unleashed a howitzer that forced Attinella into a pure reaction save.

Portland took the lead just moments later. Alvas Powell spent the whole night torturing Fabinho, and he finally put the Brazilian out of his misery with a powerful fun into the box. Leaving his feet, Fabinho knocked Powell to the ground, giving referee Alan Kelly an easy call to make. Valeri made no mistake with the penalty, sending Blake to his right and finishing cooly down the middle.

Curtin responded by introducing Fafa Picault for an ineffective Epps and Alejandro Bedoya eight minutes later for an effective Jones. Portland remained firmly in control of the match, though.

Substitute Dairon Asprilla put the game well out of reach in the 84th minute. The always tricky Valeri  dribbled into the box, where Creavalle clumsily and unnecessarily clipped the back of his heel. It was a foul, and Asprilla’s powerful penalty was too much for Blake, who did get a hand to it.

Portland added insult to injury in the 87th minute. Off a softly given free kick, David Guzman managed to get a soft header off as he fell away from goal. The shot caught Blake leaning the wrong way, and trickled into the far corner for the third Timbers goal.

Next up for the Union is the biggest match of the season so far, as they host Chicago Fire with a trip to the U.S. Open Cup final on the line. Kickoff on Wednesday at Talen Energy Stadium is at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

Three points
  • Broken record. Once again, the Union lost a match where they came out strong, failed to find a goal, and then conceded through some sloppy defensive mistakes. Stop me if you’ve heard that one before.
  • Reserve-ing judgment. The Union intentionally rotated heavily tonight with an eye on Wednesday’s semifinal. Some players, like Derrick Jones and Jack Elliott, really impressed. Others, like Fabinho and Marcus Epps, didn’t really perform.
  • Big picture. Yeah, it sucks to come out and lose on the road like this. And Portland were clearly the better team on the night. But this was the least important of the three matches the club will play this week. Win the other two and this game will be quickly forgotten.

Philadelphia Union

Andre Blake, Keegan Rosenberry, Jack Elliott, Auston Trusty, Fabinho, Derrick Jones (Alejandro Bedoya 66′), Warren Creavalle, Borek Dockal (Haris Medunjanin 74′), Marcus Epps (Fafa Picault 58′), Fabian Herbers, C.J. Sapong.

Unused Subs: John McCarthy, Ray Gaddis, Richie Marquez, David Accam

Portland Timbers

Jeff Attinella, Larrys Mabiala, Lawrence Olum, Julio Cascante, Zarek Valentin, Alvas Powell, Diego Chara, David Guzmán, Andy Polo, Diego Valeri, Samuel Armenteros (Dairon Asprilla 75′).

Unused subs: Jake Gleeson, Vytautas Andriuskevicius, Andrés Flores, Cristhian Paredes, Tomás Conechny, Dairon Asprilla, Bill Poni Tuiloma.

Scoring summary

POR: Diego Valeri — 58′ (PK)
POR: Damon Asprilla — 84′ (PK)
POR: David Guzmán — 87′ (Diego Valeri)

Disciplinary summary

PHI: Alejandro Bedoya — 90′ (unsporting behavior)


  1. This match was like watching geriatrics fuck on cough syrup.

  2. Genuine question, why is the Open Cup such a big deal? Does the winning team get anything other than a trophy that’s worth less than the MLS Cup?

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      In a single word, history, Aaron.
      In three words, history and tradition.
      The same question could logically, legitimately be asked about the FA Cup in England. But English fans go bonkers over it, and any English club that advances deep in the tournament goes all out to win it.
      There are cash prizes of modest amounts, on the order of magnitude of five digits if I remember correctly.
      And the winner qualifies for the CONCACAF Champion’s League I believe, at least historically. My uncertainty stems from the emergence of a new format for that event and the creation of the same confederation’s Nations League that begins its preliminaries next month.

    • They get a CONCACAF Champions League spot. I think they also get some roster and maybe salary cap allowances to permit them to be competitive in it. Of course, Sugarman wouldn’t spend a single extra dime regardless, and our front office wouldn’t be able to find any good players to sign, so we’d get blown out anyway and exposed in league play even worse than usual. Also, Curtin is in over his head in MLS, so I can’t imagine him coaching competitively in Champions League.

    • It’s a trophy. And since it’s the only one the U have a legit chance of winning it’s definitely a big deal here. It was a smart idea to rotate for it. Even if they make the playoffs the Union will get pasted by a good team.

    • I’m with old soccer coach. It’s not the MLS cup, but there’s tradition and history there. And for a fan base starving to win something, they should be doing everything they can to win something.

    • Quick question: How does everyone value the Cup? Say MLS Cup is a 100, and the Suncoast Invitational Tournament Championship is a 1. Where would you rate the value of the Open Cup? Just curious. Thanks!

      • el Pachyderm says:


      • value? 1.5
        It’s a trophy yeah but a joke barely above participation trophies.

        Timbers complaint against lafc made that clear.
        When you are sitting there trying to figure out who is “foreign” and who isn’t, it becomes major joke.
        Let’s face it, union like lafc games those rules, too.
        Green cards allow someone to be permanent resident but not a citizen. The holder us citizen of another country and must have passport for that country.
        US soccer more than any other sport plays games with this definition because frankly Americans aren’t good at soccer…it is the 5th sport and in many cities ranks 6th behind college hoops or football. Klinnsman’s point was usmnt needed players who didn’t grow up here, right?
        So a “united states” open cup is stupid.
        Just call it the Lamar hunt mls secondary trophy.
        Kinda like the NIT.
        Oh and be happy if union win it, you can call it Jim Curtin job security trophy.

      • a very nice 69

      • Disclaimer: I support immigration and amnesty and path to citizenship for the 11 million living “undocumented” here now_like Reagan did in 1986. Best for everyone to legalise.
        However to have that vague “foreign” rule in “us” open cup is ridiculous. Remove rule or define “foreign”. Green card is resident but still legally considered foreign citizen.
        Cup becomes a joke if rule stays vague.

  3. Atomic Spartan says:

    And Beth Steel won it.

  4. el Pachyderm says:

    That game gets only this bleary eyed thought from me this morning since I stayed up till almost 2am….
    “What kind of fuckery are we.”
    – Amy Winehouse

  5. Andy Muenz says:

    This is what the Union have been aiming for as an organization…consistency. We’ve now seen both the first team AND the second team being able to control a game in the midfield only to be dominated in the area where it counts. On the other hand, at least this was a game where we expected it to happen and aside from Blake falling asleep on the third goal, the defensive mistakes were made by guys who aren’t playing regularly.
    Is anyone else feeling that Tommy Smyth isn’t much better than Bobby Rigby? The thing that annoyed me most last night was when he said that Creavalle was unlucky with the penalty he committed. No, Tommy, he was careless and not aware of where he was on the field.

    • I agree with being happy that the mistakes were made by rotation players. But wow did Fabi look bad. Creavalle showed again why he isn’t a starter in this league. I also had enough of Tommy Smyth a week after he got here.
      What I don’t understand Curtin’s subs. Why take out Jones? Why was Accam still on the bench when you need goals?

    • el Pachyderm says:

      Tommy Smith insults my intelligence. He is the perfect color analysts for a second rate team.

      • Amen. His commentary last night was insulting. i get that his paychecks come from the Union, but c’mon. I wish Larry Anderson did soccer….

      • Unless it is ray Hudson or john madden, I tune out all announcers when watching sports.
        Most of it is babble.

    • Sorry Andy you’re completely wrong. Creavalle and Jones controlled the midfield for almost the entire game. I Think referees need to start calling the pathetic diving. Valeri could have stayed up but since he was in the box he dove. If a defender makes contact in the box it doesn’t always mean a foul. Btw why aren’t you ranting about about Bedoyas horrendous defensive play i believe Involving the second goal. He got caught out of position and lost his mark. Does anyone know wtf he was doing ? And why aren’t you complaining about his pointless yellow card ? Oh yea he’s our beloved DP and captain we can’t blame him or other starters for anything. …….

      • Andy Muenz says:

        You are misinterpreting my sentiments. I was complimenting the starting midfielders (excluding Creavalle’s foul in the box) and criticizing the inability to score and committing the dumb penalties.
        There is a difference between going down easily and diving. The former is smart and is something the Union really need to learn to do. The latter is cheating and should get a card. The Portland players were smart to go down when they were fouled, but yes, both were legitimate calls.

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