The Portland Timbers followed textbook narrative structure Wednesday evening against LAFC, having a superb start and finish to the match.
First, Diego Valeri scored his 100th MLS regular-season goal on a pass from Josecarlos Van Rankin, sneaking the ball past the keeper for a 1-0 lead just two minutes into the contest.
"It feels as sweet as the first one," recalled Valeri postgame. "When you score a goal, it’s a different feeling. But this is really special for me here with these colors. It’s not easy, and I’m very happy about it."
When asked about what the milestone means for him, Valeri said he "never imagined being here at this point," but that it's a signal of his growth as a player. One that has maximized his potential.
"It’s really special for me to achieve this with this jersey, with these colors. And for me it is a blessing," added Valeri. "Obviously, it’s for my family who is always there with me, with Florencia and Constanza and obviously for our supporters. It’s something special for me to achieve this, and all that I have achieved now until this point."
"When you’re talking about 100 goals, there’s a lot of them," said Giovanni Savarese. "He’s been unbelievable for this league. He’s been a role-model for this club, and he’s given everything that he has to this organization and on the field. So it’s been a pleasure to see him perform and he’s done some great things with the help, also, of his teammates. A great achievement. I think he’s a quality player and he’s done very, very well for this club.”
Having occurred 80 seconds into the game, it’s still just the fourth-quickest goal scored by the Timbers since 2011. The quickest being Valeri's iconic goal 27 seconds into the 2015 MLS Cup.
Then, not to be outdone by the game's killer opening, Felipe Mora sent the Timbers Army home happy scoring a stoppage time game-winning header on a cross from Sebastián Blanco. It was the first goal or assist from Blanco since returning from a torn ACL that ended his 2020 season.
"It was a very good sensation," said Mora after the match about scoring in front of a full-capacity Providence Park. "It was great. I got in at the last minute and it was a great victory, and it was a very good sensation.”
With the win, the Timbers sit in sixth place among the Western Conference with 19 points. LAFC sits in fifth with 21 points.
Next, Portland travels to Allianz Field to play Minnesota United FC on July 24th at 5:00 p.m. PST.