Every time Orlando City has arrived at its road destination early this season, things have gone poorly. The team arrived more than a day ahead of its match in Houston (4-0), Chicago (4-0), New England (4-0), and, now, Portland. Jason Kreis might want to consider not flying out to the host city early anymore.
Diego Valeri’s penalty kick goal got the party started just 15 minutes in and Orlando City had two men sent off for the second time in three games (and third time this season) as the Timbers handed the Lions a 3-0 loss at Providence Park.
The Timbers finally got their first win against Orlando City in three tries (1-2-0) and indeed had never led the Lions until Valeri’s penalty kick just minutes into the first half. Valeri added another later and Darren Mattocks also scored as the Timbers (13-10-8, 47 points) ran roughshod over the Lions (9-13-8, 35 points).
Jason Kreis started the same lineup at Portland that began the game at Atlanta United last weekend, as Jonathan Spector was deemed healthy enough to play, despite the game being on turf. He paired with Tommy Redding between Donny Toia left and Scott Sutter to the right in front of goalkeeper Joe Bendik. Dillon Powers played the bottom of the diamond midfield with Giles Barnes up top, with Yoshimar Yotun left and Antonio Nocerino right behind the strike pairing of Dom Dwyer and Cyle Larin.
The Timbers came out pressing high with a lot of energy and the Lions struggled to deal with it. After a number of attempts to get in behind the defense, Darren Mattocks forced an early save from Joe Bendik and finally got in behind again in the 13th minute. It initially appeared that Jonathan Spector made a great last-ditch tackle to deny a scoring chance but the play went to video review and a penalty kick was awarded. Valeri struck from the spot, as Joe Bendik feinted the wrong way and couldn’t recover. Valeri scored for the ninth consecutive game — extending his own MLS record. Spector was also booked for the challenge.
Dwyer tried a cross in for Larin at minute 20 but Jeff Attinella came off his line to collect just before the Canadian’s arrival. After Mattocks shook free of Redding in the box and sent a free header wide, a ball fell for Nocerino outside the box in the 22nd minute. The Italian sent a screamer on target but right at Attinella. Toia did the same at the 25-minute mark.
Four minutes later, most of the Portland attack got in behind Orlando’s back line and Dairon Asprilla crossed to Mattocks for the easy finish to make it 2-0.
Toia sent another long-range try on target in the 32nd but it was easy for Attinella.
Ten minutes later, Mattocks nearly got in behind again on a play that looked offside but the flag stayed down. Bendik came off his line and surprised the Timbers’ forward, who stumbled a bit and the chance went away.
Dwyer got the last look for Orlando in the 44th minute, smashing a shot from the top of the box that sailed wide.
Surprisingly, Orlando City out-shot Portland in the first half, 6-4, but the Timbers put three of their four on frame to Orlando’s two. Portland held a slight possession advantage (53%-47%) even though it seemed like the Lions couldn’t maintain any control. Orlando also somehow passed more accurately (86%-85%) in the opening period. The Lions simply couldn’t get the ball into dangerous areas and put stress on Portland’s defense.
Orlando had planned to switch up to a 4-2-3-1 coming out of the locker room but just moments after the restart Spector picked up a second yellow and the Lions were down to 10 men, ruining any opportunity to climb back into the game. From that point on, it was really just a matter of what the final score would be.
There was actually a brief spell where the Lions looked the more likely team to score the next goal despite being a man down. Seb Hines checked in for Powers as Orlando shifted to a 4-4-1 and the hosts took their foot off the gas a bit. Hines got his head on a corner kick cross at the back post but Liam Ridgewell did enough to throw his timing off and he couldn’t get over the ball, nodding it over in the 54th minute.
Valeri finished off Orlando in the 59th. Mattocks got in behind yet again as it appeared Redding got caught ball watching on some intricate passing and Bendik made another solid save but before the ball could reach the end line for a corner, Valeri swept in and put it in the net to complete his brace and finish the scoring.
Bendik made a few more top-notch saves, second-half sub PC was sent off seven minutes after entering the game for Toia, Dwyer nearly scored a late goal on a header that Attinella kicked out, and that was that.
Spector and PC will be unavailable Wednesday, and the Brazilian fullback could see a longer suspension after elbowing Diego Chara during a set piece, although it was one of the softest elbows you’ll ever see. It was still silly and unnecessary, though Chara made a meal of it to make sure referee Baldomero Toledo saw it.
The Lions will continue playing out the season at home on Wednesday against the New England Revolution at 7:30 p.m.