Toronto FC end Timbers 10-game winning streak, with Italian stars leading

Italian work is working well for Toronto FC.

Late goals from Italian stars Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Bernardeschi lifted Toronto to a 3-1 win over Portland in Saturday night’s Major League Soccer game, ending the Timbers’ unbeaten streak at 10 games.

TFC (8-12-5) are now unbeaten in four games (3-0-1) since the Italian duo took the field, collecting 10 points from a possible 12 with Insigne and Bernardeschi leading the way. The club had managed just eight points in their last 14 league games (2-10-2) dating back to mid-April.

Bernardeschi (three goals and two assists) and Insigne (two goals and one assist) have been involved in eight of Toronto’s last 10 goals.

Toronto coach Bob Bradley, who was expected to arrive mid-season as a kid on Christmas Eve, isn’t surprised.

« Look, these guys bring special qualities, » he said understatedly.

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The Italian winger buried the go-ahead goal late in the 2nd half en route to an eventual 3-1 win over the Portland Timbers.

Since their arrival, Toronto has beaten Charlotte 4-0, tied New England 0-0 and beaten Nashville 4-3 and Portland 3-1. The club also recorded their first shutout and first road win of the season.

With nine games to go, Toronto isn’t out of the hunt for the playoffs, though there are more than a few teams between it and the playoff line in the congested Eastern Conference. And the TFC is a thorny opponent.

The Italian tide lifts everyone.

Jonathan Osorio opened the scoring on Saturday with his team-leading ninth of the season – and third in the last two games. Captain Michael Bradley, Bob’s son, set up Insigne for the second time in as many games – despite not getting an assist on Saturday – and scored twice himself against Charlotte.

« When you have good players, it doesn’t take long for other good players to measure them, » Bob Bradley said.

Full-back Richie Laryea had two assists on the night, taking his tally to three in the two games he has played since joining the side on loan from England Nottingham Forest.

While Toronto dominated the game for long stretches, it appeared to be heading for a 1-1 draw after Portland defender Josecarlos Van Rankin scored in the 73rd minute. Yimmi Chara sent the ball towards the penalty area and veteran playmaker Sebastian Blanco sent it past fellow Mexican Van Rankin, who beat Alex Bono for his first MLS goal.

Toronto had controlled the game, beating Osorio’s goal in the 41st minute.

Insigne and Bernardeschi belatedly restored order.

Bradley scored Insigne’s goal in the 79th minute, collecting the ball in the penalty area towards Insigne. Her pass bounced off a defender and Insigne swung her leg, putting it home. The goal was well deserved for Insigne, who had been dangerous throughout the game.

Then, after a magnificent save by Slovenian Portland goalkeeper Aljaz Ivacic on substitute Ayo Akinola, Bernardeschi scored with a curling left-footed shot in the 85th minute.

Toronto outshot Portland 23-3 (12-2 on shots on target) and had 56.7% possession.

Toronto could have scored more on the evening, coming to the defense of Portland in waves on Canadian Armed Forces Night in front of a grateful crowd of 28,598 at BMO Field.

Ivacic stood out, keeping the Timbers in the game until the Italian duo struck.

The Timbers (7-7-12) were coming off successive ties against Minnesota, Nashville and Dallas and had gone 4-0-6 in their 10 previous outings, making it the longest active unbeaten streak in MLS. Their last loss dates back to May 28, a 2-1 loss at Inter Miami.

« It’s painful but I think there’s a lot to learn from this game, » Portland coach Giovanni Savarese said.

« I think we played a decent game, » he added. « I felt that at times not everyone was putting in the same amount of work as needed. Nevertheless, we were still able to defend well most of the time and create moments offensively. »

Toronto had the better chances in the first half, increasing the pressure as the game wore on. It produced a goal in the 41st minute when, after a good round trip with Insigne, Laryea burst into the box, danced past defender Claudio Bravo and fed an open Osorio, who brought the ball home to his team-leading ninth goal. of the season – and fifth in six games.

Sneaky Laryea, marking his return to BMO Field since returning on loan from Nottingham Forest, is a penalty waiting to happen as he steps into the opposition’s penalty area.

Toronto outshot Portland 12-1 (6-0 on shots on target) in the first half with 57.2% possession.

Portland entered the weekend in seventh place in the Western Conference, just above the playoff line.

Toronto was 13th in the East, but just four points out of the playoffs. Still, there were five teams — Orlando, Miami, New England, Charlotte and Atlanta — between the TFC and seventh-placed Chicago that held onto the last postseason spot.

Referee Nima Saghafi’s call of the match seemed to displease both sides, with many protesting calls and non-calls.

Saturday marked the teams’ first meeting since April 2019 when the Timbers won 2-1 for the first time in six career visits (1-4-1) to BMO Field. Portland had won the last two clashes with TFC last winning a 4-1 decision at BMO Field on August 12, 2017, when Toronto topped the league in its championship season.

Only Michael Bradley, Osorio, goaltender Quentin Westberg and defenseman Chris Mavinga remain among the Toronto starters that day.

Toronto midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye missed his third straight game with a lower-body injury.

Toronto hosts New England on Wednesday before visiting Inter Miami next Saturday.

Johnston surveys Montreal in Houston

Lassi Lappalainen scored the only goal of the second half and CF Montreal held off Houston Dynamo 3-2 on Saturday.

Lappalainen found the net in the 69th minute — with an assist from Joaquin Torres — for his second goal this season for Montreal (13-8-4).

Sebastian Ferreira gave Houston a 1-0 lead (7-14-4) in the 12th minute with his eighth goal of the season, but Romell Quioto scored from a penalty for Montreal three minutes later to tie the game.

Alistair Johnston scored in the 28th minute to give Montreal a 2-1 lead, but Daniel Steres replied for Dynamo in the 36th to send the game to a 2-2 draw at halftime.

« What a team performance, that second half was really tough but everyone dug in, » Johnston said after the game.

James Pantemis saved two shots for Montreal. Steve Clark made four saves for Houston, which has lost four in a row.

Ricketts scores in Whitecaps loss

Samuel Grandsir scored two of Los Angeles’ four first-half goals to power the Galaxy to a 5-2 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday night.

Grandsir, who entered the game with one goal this season, scored in the 12th minute to give Los Angeles (10-11-3) an early lead.

Javier Hernandez Balcazar, who passes through Chicharito, scored from a 20th-minute penalty for a two-goal lead, then fed Victor Vazquez for a goal in the 30th to give the Galaxy a 3-0 lead. Chicharito has a team record 10 goals this season, while Vazquez was his first.

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Galaxy attacks early and often, beats Whitecaps

Vancouver found themselves trailing 4-1 at halftime and eventually fell 5-2 in the tilt of the road.

Ryan Gauld scored in the 38th minute for Vancouver (8-11-6), but Grandsir completed his double two minutes later and the Galaxy led 4-1 at intermission.

Canadian Tosaint Ricketts scored a second-half goal for the Whitecaps, who lost Cristian Dajome to a red card in the 79th minute.

Efrain Alvarez scored in the 89th minute to end the scoring for LA

Jonathan Bond made two saves for the Galaxy. Cody Cropper saved two for Vancouver.

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