The Houston Dynamo, playing their fifth game in 15 days, fell 2-1 to the Portland Timbers Saturday night at Providence Park.
Forward Romell Quioto netted his fourth goal of the season – the 11th of his Dynamo career – and forward Alberth Elis notched his eighth assist of the year in addition to a game-high three shots to key the Houston attack. Goalkeeper Joe Willis recorded four saves, including a pair of brilliant stops in a matter of seconds in the first half, and had several timely interventions on attempted through balls from Portland.
An 80th minute goal from forward Fanendo Adi proved enough to give the Timbers a win in front of a partisan crowd. The goal came after a frantic sequence that saw multiple Dynamo defenders throw their bodies in front of Portland shots, showing the commitment that has characterized the club all year, before a loose ball ultimately fell to the feet of Adi, who tapped it into the net just beyond the reach of Willis.
Portland jumped out to an early lead through a goal from forward Sebastián Blanco in the seventh minute. The scoring move began when midfielder Diego Valeri played a ball wide right to defender Alvas Powell, who drove to the edge of the penalty area before whipping in a cross that found Blanco at the back post for a first-touch shot.
The Dynamo quickly equalized five minutes later after Elis picked the pocket of Portland defender Julio Cascante just outside the penalty area. The All-Star attacker stole the ball off Cascante and drove into the penalty area, drawing two defenders before attempting a shot that trickled across the face of goal. Quioto easily ran onto the slow roller and tapped it into an empty net for his fourth goal of the year.
Portland looked ready to go back on top in the 20th when Blanco found forward Dairon Asprilla behind the Houston back line, but goalkeeper Joe Willis charged off his line and got a big right hand on Asprilla’s shot before jumping on the rebound to quash the attack. Moments later, Willis came up with another big save from Asprilla, this time swatting away a bicycle kick from the Colombian and then gathering in a headed effort from Portland defender Lawrence Olum.
Quioto nearly gave Houston the lead and had his first brace of the year in the 33rd minute. Defender Andrew Wenger, making his first start since early June, got free in the corner and played a ball back to midfielder Tomás Martínez at the top of the penalty area. The Argentinian playmaker whipped in a high cross and Quioto elevated to get on the end of it at the back post. His powerful header had the goalkeeper beaten but just fell inches wide of the post.
Moments after the start of the second half, Elis nearly put Houston ahead with a quick right-footed blast that forced a diving save from Portland goalkeeper Jeff Attinella. Elis fended off a Portland defender inside the box on the right side and quickly got his hips turned and uncorked a low blast that was destined for the near post before Attinella’s intervention.
After Houston controlled the run of play through the first 45 minutes, holding the ball for nearly 55 percent of the first half and creating multiple dangerous chances, Portland shifted the momentum in the second half with more than 60 percent possession against a fatigued Dynamo side.
Houston had a trio of late chances to even things, with two corner kicks in the final minute of regulation and a headed shot from Elis in stoppage time, but none would find their way into the net before referee Nima Saghafi blew his whistle for full time.
The Dynamo will return to action on Saturday, August 4 at home against Sporting Kansas City. The match comes after a midweek break for the Major League Soccer All-Star Game. The MLS All-Stars will take on Italian giants Juventus Wednesday night in Atlanta. The Houston-Sporting match is slated for an 8 p.m. CDT kickoff at BBVA Compass Stadium, and tickets are available starting at $29 at HoustonDynamo.com, by phone at 713-276-4625 or at the BBVA Compass Stadium box office.
Portland Timbers (9-3-7; 34 pts.) 2-1 Houston Dynamo (7-8-6; 27 pts.)
MLS Regular Season Week 22
Saturday, July 28, 2018 – Providence Park – Portland, Oregon
POR: Sebastián Blanco 6 (Alvas Powell 3) 7
HOU: Romell Quioto 4 (Alberth Elis 8) 12
POR: Fanendo Adi 3 (Diego Valeri 9) 80
Portland Timbers: Jeff Attinella; Alvas Powell, Larrys Mabiala, Lawrence Olum, Julio Cascante, Zarek Valentin; Andy Polo, Diego Chara, Sebastián Blanco; Dairon Asprilla (Fanendo Adi 74), Diego Valeri © (Andrés Flores 90+2)
Unused subs: Jake Gleeson, Vytaus Andriuskevicius, David Guzmán, Cristhian Paredes, Bill Tuiloma
Total shots: 19 (Sebastián Blanco, Andy Polo, Diego Valeri 3); Shots on goal: 6 (Dairon Asprilla 2); Fouls: 12 (Alvas Powell 3); Offside: 6 (Fanendo Adi, Dairon Asprilla 2); Corner kicks: 4 (Diego Valeri 4); Saves: 1 (Jeff Attinella 1)
Houston Dynamo: Joe Willis; Andrew Wenger, Adolfo Machado, Jared Watts, Leonardo, DaMarcus Beasley ©; Eric Alexander (Arturo Alvarez 85), Boniek García, Tomás Martínez (Memo Rodriguez 60); Alberth Elis, Romell Quioto (Luis Gil 74)
Unused subs: Chris Seitz, Eric Bird, Kevin Garcia, Adam Lundkvist
Total shots: 5 (Alberth Elis 3); Shots on goal: 2 (Alberth Elis, Romell Quioto 1); Fouls: 19 (Boniek García 6); Offside: 2 (Alberth Elis, Romell Quioto 1); Corner kicks: 3 (Arturo Alvarez 2); Saves: 4 (Joe Willis 4)
POR: Alvas Powell (caution; foul) 9
HOU: Alberth Elis (caution; dissent) 17
POR: Dairon Asprilla (caution; dissent) 17
HOU: Jared Watts (caution; foul) 25
POR: Sebastián Blanco (caution; foul) 39
Referee: Nima Saghafi
Assistant Referee 1: Adam Garner
Assistant Referee 2: Eric Weisbrod
Fourth Official: Baldomero Toledo
VAR: Jorge Gonzalez