Portland Timbers beat Minnesota United 1-0 for their fourth straight win

It’s happening again.

The Portland TimbersLate in the season, darling, they won four games in a row with a 1-0 win over Minnesota United on a foggy Saturday night at Providence Park. They did so despite their 20-9 advantage, buoyed by a second-half header from Dairon Asprilla.

With the win, Timbers (11-8-12, 45 points) jumped over Real Salt Lake and Minnesota in the standings and is fifth in the Western Conference. They are one point behind fourth-placed Nashville and five points behind eighth-placed Los Angeles Galaxy, which stands outside the supplement picture.

“A huge result,” said Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese. “We knew it was going to be very difficult. … I thought the first half wasn’t good enough in terms of the things we wanted to do and the way we wanted to move the ball. We didn’t have the flexibility to play so what we made wasn’t enough. But we worked hard to defend. In those moments where they were able to be more dangerous, the Jazz did their job to be strong in goal.”

While Portland’s chances were hard to come by in the first half, Yimmi Chara got his first shot of the night in the fifth minute: a header on a Bill Tuiluma feed.

Aljaz Ivacic was busy in the first 45, and that included two saves in quick succession in the 10th minute that barely kept Minnesota off the plate.

Minder Garcia proved annoying to the Timbers all night long. He competed with Zach McGraw and often won this match in the first half, working his way up to the attacking third for several dangerous moments.

One of those moments came in the 19th minute when Garcia fired from close range. Garcia’s observation seemed to be a constant problem for many Timbers players, and the Minnesota attack running through him was relentless.

“As a defender, it’s good to keep goals at zero,” Timbers defender Claudio Bravo said in Spanish. “It’s just a good feeling with the team being able to win at home.”

After two chances for Asbrella in the 28th and 34th minutes, Minnesota got back on her horse and got a serious shot into traffic from Garcia in the 36th minute. Ivacic was tested again in the 40th, and forced to make the jump with a Luis Amarilla shot.

Claudio Bravo was given a yellow card just before the first half, and Timbers went into the locker room in the first half to draw 0-0 with Minnesota despite leading 13-4 with roadside shots.

“We played better in the second half,” said Savarese. “We moved the ball well, changed the attacking point, and did not allow them to reach such good areas. In the end they threw everything at us and we defended well.”

After chances from Tuiloma and Eryk Williamson, it was the ever-present Asprilla who finally broke through in the 61st minute. From a corner kick from Santiago Moreno, Asprilla headed into the net to put Portland ahead 1-0. He did his back autograph in celebration as Providence Park shook.

Minnesota nearly raised the game in the 65th minute with a powerful shot from Will Trapp, but Ivacic was there, reliably, to a quick save.

“I’m very happy, first for my clean sheet but more importantly that we won today,” said Ivacic, the MLS lead in saves. “We needed those three points and we got them. … I said I was better (a goalkeeper in MLS), and I just proved it.”

Despite having a few chances along the stretch, Minnesota were unable to equalize. Portland put on a set of substitutes and kept serve for the rest of the way, claiming a decisive win with only three games remaining in the regular season schedule.

Next: The Timbers are back on the road to face the Columbus Crew. The match is scheduled to kick off at 10AM PT on September 18th (TV on ESPN).

— Ryan Clark, rclarke@oregonian.com, Twitter: Tweet embed

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