Eric Brunner's goal from a corner just prior to halftime secured a vital three points for the Timbers in an increasingly competitive playoff raceThe Portland Timbers, true to form, struck on a well-worked set piece and did more than enough to secure an important 1-0 win over visiting Chivas USA. Eric Brunner turned home a corner kick from Mike Chabala in the 44th minute, and Portland put in a strong performance to deny the visiting team any sniff of goal for most of the game.
The Timbers controlled large parts of the proceedings in the first half, but it took them until the brink of halftime to actually make an impact on the scoreline. Dan Kennedy was in his normal impeccable form, and pulled out a fantastic reaction save on David Horst from a corner kick. Chivas' caused wasn't helped by the fact that head coach Robin Fraser had to use two of his substitutions in the first half half, with Simon Elliot and Mariano Trujillo replacing the injured pair of Paulo Nagamura and Michael Lahoud.
Unsurprisingly, set pieces continued to be a strong piece for the Timbers, as Mike Chabala found the onrushing Eric Brunner completely unmarked from a corner. The former Columbus Crew man made no mistake, turning the ball in for a goal on the brink of half-time.
Kennedy continued to excel in the second half, keeping his side in the game with a few good saves. First, he was well-positioned to palm away a drive from Kenny Cooper. Then, he went one better, reacting brilliantly to tip away a curling drive from Khalif Alhassan in the 62nd minute.
Chivas started to come into the game more in the last 15 minutes, controlling more possession, but failing to seriously test Troy Perkins in the Portland goal. Justin Braun played his target man role well, though creating a pair of good chances out of long balls played to him.
The first time, in the 85th minute, Braun flashed a header right across the face of goal after a long ball from Elliott. The second time, deep into injury time, his header found Laurent Courtois, who opted to take the shot on the outside of his favored left foot when he could have sidefooted in with his right. The ball rolled agonizingly past the goal, denying the Frenchman a chance at a second game-tying goal in the same number of games and preserving an important win for the Timbers.