Portland Timbers

Union rest starters ahead of U.S. Open Cup semifinal, pay the price against Portland Timbers

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Union rest starters ahead of U.S. Open Cup semifinal, pay the price against Portland Timbers

BOX SCORE 

PORTLAND, Ore. — Diego Valeri and Dairon Asprilla each scored on a penalty kick, and the Portland Timbers extended their unbeaten streak to 15 games with a 3-0 victory over the Philadelphia Union on Saturday night.

Portland improved to 10-0-5 since its last loss on April 8 at Orlando. The undefeated run matches the club's MLS record of 15 games set in 2013.

Philadelphia rested many of its starters — including captain Alejandro Bedoya — in anticipation of Wednesday's U.S. Open Cup semifinal.

David Guzman also scored for the Timbers on a header in the 87th minute.

Valeri's penalty came after Philadelphia's Fabinho pulled down Alvas Powell in the 58th minute. Warren Creavalle tripped Valeri in the box for Asprilla's PK in the 84th minute.

It was Portland's first match without Fanendo Adi, who signed with FC Cincinnati this week. Adi, who had been with the Timbers since 2014, scored a late goal that gave Portland a 2-1 victory over Houston last weekend.

FC Cincinnati, currently with the lower-tier USL, will join Major League Soccer as an expansion team next season.

The Timbers were without Sebastian Blanco because of yellow card accumulation. Samuel Armenteros, who was listed as questionable with a sore back, started for Portland.

Bedoya was listed as a sub for the match but entered in the 66th minute after Valeri's goal.

Philadelphia hosts the Chicago Fire in the U.S. Open Cup semifinals. Other regular starters who were subs for the game included Hari Mendunjanin, Raymon Gaddis and David Accam. Coach Jim Curtin started forward C.J. Sapong and defender Keegan Rosenberry.

The match was scoreless after the first half. Portland's best chance appeared to be a shot by Andy Polo that sailed just over the goal in the 34th minute. Just before that, Timbers goalkeeper Jeff Attinella lunged to grab Sapong's left-footed shot toward the far post.

Sapong had another opportunity in the opening minute of the second half but Attinella came away with another save.

Pressure growing as losses continue to mount for Union

Pressure growing as losses continue to mount for Union

CHESTER, Pa. -- Answers are evading the Union.

"Right now, it's the moment for each individual in the organization to take a look in the mirror and dig deep down and try to find an answer within themselves," said Union veteran Oguchi Onyewu following a 3-1 loss to the Portland Timbers on Saturday at Talen Energy Stadium. "Because personally, I feel we have the clientele to get wins."

But those wins haven't shown up. Saturday's defeat, albeit to the top team in the Western Conference, was a low point for the Union, who are 0-3-2 on the season and one of only two MLS teams without a win in 2017. It marked the club's third consecutive loss.

"It's not the moment to put our heads down right now," Onyewu said. "It's a moment for everybody to be pissed off, be upset and to dig deep to rectify this and get a result."

The lack of winning has pressure mounting on manager Jim Curtin. Including a first-round playoff loss, the Union finished the 2016 season riding an eight-game winless run and four straight defeats. Add that to the Union's 2017 start, and the club has been defeated in seven of its last nine games and is winless in its last 13 dating back to Aug. 27, 2016.

"It's fine, I'm a big boy, I can answer that," said Curtin, when asked about his job security. "There's pressure in pro sports. Our players recognize that I recognize that, I feel that. I'm not scared of it because I still believe in the team. You can put it on me, that's fine. I take the blame."

So if Curtin is to blame, how does he fix it? It could be as simple as fighting off soft goals.

"We're not giving up a ton of shots on goal, but we are giving up big chances and we are giving up goals," Curtin said. "And it's a problem."

The players believe this is fixable, and that this issue does not stem from a roster or lack of quality, but rather a unique combination of making, and not taking advantage of, unforced errors.

"We gift goals," said Onyewu, whose club has allowed seven goals in their last three games. "We seem to be getting punished for mistakes. We haven’t been punishing the adversaries when they make mistakes, we haven't been scoring when we have our opportunities."

But despite the on-field issues plaguing the Union, the toughest adversary right now might be low morale. Even a tight-knit locker room could crack under losing pressure.

"To be honest, it's something we can't get too worked over because that's when chemistry falls off. That's when things really start going bad," Union center back Richie Marquez said. "We have to keep our heads up and continue to work."

Union remain winless after surrendering 3 unanswered in loss to Timbers

Union remain winless after surrendering 3 unanswered in loss to Timbers

BOX SCORE

CHESTER, Pa. -- Coming home after playing three of their first four games on the road was supposed to be performance therapy for the winless Union. Instead, it was more of the same.

Richie Marquez gave the hosts hope but the Portland Timbers countered with three unanswered goals to take down the befuddled Union, 3-1, Saturday night at Talen Energy Stadium.

"It's a tough time right now," Union manager Jim Curtin said. "We have to find a way to fight and stick together and turn things around. It takes one win to get back on track. We have quality in our group. There is belief in our group and it's just a tough time right now, we have to turn it around."

It was the Union's third-consecutive defeat, keeping them at the bottom of the Eastern Conference. The Union are also now winless in their last 13 games dating back to Aug. 27, 2016, when they defeated Sporting Kansas City. Jim Curtin's club moves to 0-3-2 on the season, while the Timbers move to an impressive 4-1-1.

"I'm not scared of it because I still believe in the team," Curtin said when asked about his job security. "I believe in the group. You can put it on me, that's fine. I take the blame. It's our job to stick together as a team, continue to work hard and bounce back from this. The only way you get out of it is to win a game."

The situation was optimistic for the Union early in the first half. Earning a corner in the 26th minute, Haris Medunjanin's line drive cleared a mass of bodies before finding the head of Marquez for the 1-0 Union advantage.

Marquez, who suffered a concussion last weekend against D.C. United, was questionable for the match. It was his first goal of the season.

"It was a credit to Haris' ball," Marquez said. "It was a great ball into the box and I was just able to get there and head it in."

However, that optimism was short-lived. Darlington Nagbe tied the game at one less than 10 minutes later when he moved through multiple defenders before surprising Andre Blake with a savable outside-the-box shot that trickled inside the left post.

"Sometimes, bounces don't go your way," Union right back Keegan Rosenberry said. "They're one of the highest scoring teams in the league, they got a lot of good attacking pieces. We knew that going into it was gonna be a tough challenge to prevent them from scoring."

Owning momentum, the Timbers claimed the lead midway through the second half when a Diego Valeri free kick curled into the box and off the head of Roy Miller for the 2-1 advantage. Fanendo Adi scored a penalty kick in the waning minutes, silencing the already paltry Union home crowd to make it a 3-1 final.

"We have to stick together through the tough times," Curtin said. "Keeping shutouts at home is something we take up pride in and we came up small tonight in that regard. We're not giving up a ton of shots on goal, but we are giving up big chances and we are giving up goals and it’s a problem."