PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Sebastian Blanco scored a pair of second-half goals to lead the Portland Timbers over D.C. United 4-0 on Sunday.
Near the end of the first half, Portland forward Darren Mattocks intercepted a weak backpass by defender Chris Korb, then was taken down by goalkeeper Steve Clark for a penalty. Diego Valeri knocked his shot past Clark and into the lower left corner of the net for his 21st goal. Valeri has scored in 10 of the last 11 games.
“Getting that first goal really makes a difference, because then they have to open up,” Portland coach Caleb Porter said. “We knew it would take time.”
Portland goalkeeper Jeff Attinella preserved the lead in the 49th minute with two saves in quick succession, first diving to keep out a header by Luciano Acosta, then blocking a rebound shot by Patrick Mullins.
A minute later, Portland doubled the lead. Alvas Powell dribbled in from the right wing and, with no defenders attempting to close him down, unleashed a left-footed shot past a diving Clark for his second of the season.
The Timbers extended the lead to 3-0 in the 60th minute. Valeri showed off his juggling skills while controlling a long pass, then exchanged passes with Blanco on the edge of the penalty area, creating enough space for Blanco to rip his own left-footed shot inside the far post.
“I thought that third goal is the epitome of (how we want to play). It was a great little sequence with Blanco and Valeri, and those two guys are really clicking,” Porter said. “Blanco’s been excellent.”
Blanco capped the scoring in the 86th minute, picking up a loose ball and dribbling past multiple defenders and Clark before knocking in his eight of the season.
The win moves Portland into second place in the Western Conference with 50 points, two behind Vancouver, with the Timbers hosting the Whitecaps in the season finale next Sunday.
D.C. remains in last place in the Eastern Conference with 32 points.
“Unfortunately, were in a spot right now (out of the playoffs) where this is an evaluation process,” D.C. United coach Ben Olsen said. “We’re finding out who can cut it and who can’t. That’s the reality.”