REPORT | Portland Timbers 0-2 Philadelphia Union
The Philadelphia Union got back to winning ways as goals from Daniel Gazdag and Sergio Santos ensured a 2-0 win over the Portland Timbers.
The Union scored at the beginning of either half as Jim Curtin's side ended their seven-game winless run, and they also returned to the top of the Eastern Conference.
Jim Curtin made two changes to the team that drew 0-0 to Inter Miami. Jose Martinez returned from suspension as he replaced Stuart Findlay, while Julian Carranza returned to the starting lineup after being unable to play against his parent club.
In the 5th minute, Daniel Gazdag scored an incredible goal. Nathan Harriel's long throw was flicked on by Ale Bedoya towards the centre of the box. The ball was going away from Gazdag, who decided to try his luck with an overhead kick. He got enough contact on the ball to direct it into the bottom corner leaving Aljaz Ivacic rooted to his spot.
Kai Wagner came close moments later, but it would not have counted. His curling free-kick was directed towards the middle of the penalty area but evaded everybody. It took a heavy bounce towards the goal, forcing Ivacic to scramble across to palm it away. However, the referee believed there had been a foul inside the area, thus awarding the hosts a free-kick.
Ivacic was called into action in the 11th minute as the Union continued their barrage on the Portland goal. Wagner took a quick free-kick into the feet of Bedoya, who did well to turn past his man before directing a shot goalward. Ivacic did well to get down to make the save at his near post, and the rebound fell to Jack Elliott. However, The Timbers had a stroke of luck as it bounced off the defender before going out for a goal kick.
The Union continued their early dominance as another Harriel long throw caused Portland issues inside their penalty area. It was flicked on into the direction of the six-yard box, but the Union were unable to take advantage as it eventually trickled out for a goal kick.
Portland could not deal with Harriel's long throws as it conjured up another opportunity in the 21st minute. Santos headed it on as Carranza came storming in to head it goalward, but it went over the bar as the Union could not capitalise on the chance.
Bill Tuiloma had Portland's first chance of the game in the 27th minute. Santiago Moreno curled a cross into the box, and Tuiloma rose the highest. However, he could not make enough contact with the ball as it went wide of the target.
In the 41st minute, Moreno came close as his effort flashed over the bar. He received the ball on the edge of the area and decided to try and direct his effort across the goal towards the top corner. However, it had too much height on it as it cleared the crossbar.
HALF-TIME: Portland Timbers 0-1 Philadelphia Union
Just three minutes into the second half, Santos doubled the Union lead. Wagner curled a fantastic cross into the box that found the head of the Brazilian. He rose the highest to guide his header into the bottom corner as Ivacic stood rooted to his spot.
Jose Martinez came close to making it three just after the hour. His free-kick from 20 yards went around the wall and almost found its way into the bottom corner. On the second look, it seemed that it was going just wide of the target, but it did not stop Ivacic from scrambling across to make sure it went wide as he got a fingertip onto it.
Portland thought they had a goal back in the 69th minute through Sebastien Blanco. Tuiloma's cross towards the back post found Moreno alone in acres of space. He smashed it across the goal, and it beat Andre Blake, but Jakob Glesnes was on hand to block it off the line. However, Blanco was the first one to get to the rebound as he smashed it home from just a few yards out.
The goal went to a VAR review for offside, where Moreno was in an offside position when Josecarlos Van Rankin made slight contact with the ball with his head. After a lengthy look at the play, the referee re-entered the pitch to announce that the goal had been ruled out for offside.
It took until the 86th minute for Blake to make his first save of the game as Yimmi Chara stung his palms. Chara managed to get into space inside the area and smashed his effort towards Blake with plenty of power. However, the Jamaican goalkeeper comfortably pushed it away from the danger zone.
Blake was called into action again moments later as he denied Tuiloma. The defender made the delayed run to get in behind the Union backline. He struck the ball first time on the volley, but it was straight at Blake, who made the save.
FULL-TIME: Portland Timbers 0-2 Philadelphia Union
Portland Timbers: Ivacic, Van Rankin (Ayala 80'), Tuiloma, Zuparic (McGraw 90'), Rasmussen (Mabiala 66'), Paredes (Loria 67'), Chara, Williamson (Moreno 14'), Chara, Fogaca, Blanco
Unused Substitutes: Asprilla, Bonilla
Philadelphia Union: Blake, Harriel, Elliott, Glesnes, Wagner, Martinez, Bedoya, Flach, Gazdag, Santos (Aaronson 52'), Carranza (Burke 81')
Unused Substitutes: Freese, Mbaizo, Real, Findlay, Bueno, McGlynn, Sullivan