The Portland Timbers weren't expected to do much more than impress observers with an electric atmosphere at Jeld-Wen Field this season. The stadium and the atmosphere were supposed to steal headlines, not the team itself. Well the stadium and atmosphere lived up to expectations on Friday night, but it was the team that made the real mark. A dominating 3-0 win over the New England Revolution showed off some of the best of the Timbers, but most importantly, it moved Portland into 10th place in MLS, the final playoff spot.
Just nine minutes into the match Portland was ahead and it came through Diego Chara and with a lot of help from some dreadful New England defending. Chara was able to slip through three New England defenders and finish just inside the post, a good finish for the Colombian to put the home side ahead. It was only possible because of Shalrie Joseph in particular, but really the entire Revolution team watching Chara get in on goal without ever bothering to attempt at stopping him.
Just after the half-hour match, Portland doubled their lead. Mike Chabala did the hard hard, getting to a ball just before it went out of touch and ripping a cross into Kenny Cooper. Cooper didn't really shoot the ball, but more let the ball hit him and redirect into the goal. However it was done, Portland had a goal, a two-goal lead and Jeld-Wen Field was exploding.
After the break, Darlington Nagbe got in on the action with a very good header. The rookie for on the end of a Kalif Alhassan cross and jumping from a stand still, rose and perfectly headed the ball just inside the post to make it 3-0 Timbers. It was the second goal of the season for Nagbe and sent the Timbers onto a dominating victory.
There wasn't a minute where Portland weren't the better team. New England's best chance came not from good Revolution team play, but a good individual play from Milton Caraglio. The Argentine did well to force a good save from Troy Perkins after turning and firing from 18 yards. Besides that, it was all Timbers, who worked around the Revolution's strength in the center of the midfield by playing through the flanks all match.
With just six matches left in their very first season, Portland are right in the mix for a playoff spot. While it is easy to use that as an example of bad playoff system, there is the positive of a possible playoff game at Jeld-Wen Field, which would surely be spectacle. They'll have to play as well as they did against the Revolution the rest of the way to sneak into that final playoff spot though.