Timbers down LAFC 2-1 for fifth straight victory
By ANNE M. PETERSON
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) To celebrate his first MLS goal, Portland's Samuel Armenteros headed straight for the Timbers Army.
Armenteros got the deciding goal in the 81st minute for a 2-1 victory over Los Angeles FC on Saturday. It was the Timbers' fifth straight win.
The 27-year-old striker who had entered the game as a sub bounded up the stairs behind the goal and straight into the arms of the cheering supporters in Providence Park's north end.
"To tell you the truth I didn't even look at the ball, I just focused on the shot and it went to fast," said Armenteros, a native of Sweden who joined the Timbers earlier this year. "I just reacted to what the fans were screaming."
Carlos Vela tied the match for LAFC in the 74th minute after Cristhian Paredes scored for the Timbers to open the second half.
The Timbers (5-3-2) are 4-0 at home after starting the season winless for five straight matches on the road because of construction at Providence Park.
"I think we all believe in each other," Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese said. "I think we all know that anyone we stick on the field is going to do a good job because we work together and have the right mentality."
Expansion LAFC (6-3-2) dropped just its third match on the road this year.
The Timbers broke through with Paredes' goal in the 52nd minute, which came on a rebound of Diego Valeri's free kick. It was also the first MLS goal for the Paraguayan midfielder, who just turned 20 on Friday.
Vela curled a shot over Timbers' goalkeeper Jeff Attinella for his team-leading seventh goal of the season. It snapped Portland's run of 353 minutes without conceding a goal.
"I believe a lot in that shot. And I believe when I have the chance, and the time to prepare my body, it will be a goal a lot of times," Vela said.
Armenteros, who was subbed in for Fanendo Adi in the 75th minute, scored some six minutes later. He got a yellow card for his celebration.
"Armenteros has all the right to jump in there," Savarese said. "He's been working very hard and he scored a fantastic goal."
Portland had three straight shutouts heading into the game, but they got hit in the ninth minute when defender Liam Ridgewell left the game with a non-contact injury. Although he was able to walk off the field unaided, he was replaced by Julio Cascante.
Adi had a clear strike that caromed off the crossbar in the ninth minute for probably the best chance in the first half.
"It was a really good experience, they have a great atmosphere and their fans are really good," Vela said afterward. "They pushed all game, and they did a good job. Of course, I'm disappointed we didn't win. We have to keep working and let's see the next game and try to win it."
Both teams are likely to see World Cup absences as early as next week. Officially, MLS teams don't have to release players until May 28, although it's likely they'll let them go sooner in the interest of good relations with the national teams and their federations.
The Timbers have two players that were on provisional World Cup rosters released earlier in the week. Midfielder David Guzman was on the roster for Costa Rica, which went ahead and named its World Cup squad, so he's likely assured a spot in Russia. Midfielder Andy Polo was named to Peru's provisional roster.
LAFC's players named to preliminary rosters included forward Vela (Mexico), forward Marco Urena (Costa Rica), Steve Beitashour (Iran) and defender/midfielder Omar Gaber (Egypt). Defender Laurent Ciman is expected to be on Belgium's provisional roster, which will be announced Monday.
Urena is recovering from facial surgery and was not available for LAFC on Saturday.
Updated May 19, 2018