Portland Timbers forward Fanendo Adi (black/red jersey) has four career Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League goals. (Photo: Mexsport)
SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador -- After pulling out a dramatic road win Tuesday night to keep alive their hopes of reaching the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals, the Portland Timbers received a lifeline for possible progression to the knockout rounds.
The Timbers improved to 2W-0D-1L and will need to beat first-place Saprissa (2-1-0) on October 19, when it hosts the Costa Rican power in the Group B finale.
"To win, to get the full three points shows the maturity of a champion," Portland head coach Caleb Porter said after his team's 2-1 victory over Dragon. "We’ve had a rough year. We’ve had a bunch of injuries and managed adversity more than I’ve ever seen. But this group, has kept fighting. I’m proud of them."
With the score tied at 1-1 in the 90th minute, Portland set up for a free kick 25-yards out from Dragon’s goal. United States international Darlington Nabge and Fanendo Adi, whose goal made it 1-1 in the 79th minute, had an on-field strategy discussion.
“I told him to lift up the ball for me, but he told me, ‘Don’t worry, I’m going to take it,’ said Adi. "Players stepped up and today it was massive for us and he stepped up and did the job.”
Nagbe promptly struck a sweet a right-footer into the left side of the net for his first-ever SCCL goal.
Despite falling 4-2 at Saprissa on September 14, Portland is confident the result will be different at Providence Park.
“They’re a great team, as we saw when we went down to Costa Rica," Nagbe commented. "We got them at home so hopefully we can take of business at home and get the victory.”
Portland boasts an 11-2-3 record in MLS play at home this season.
"We have a lot of respect for them," concluded Porter. "Playing them at the Monster’s Cave is difficult, and they were the better team. We lost 4-2. But now they have to come play us on our home field and we’re one of the best teams in MLS at home. We have the most wins in the league at home. They have to come and face the Timbers Army now."