Eric Brunner scored the lone goal and the Portland Timbers held on in their push toward a playoff berth to defeat Chivas USA 1-0 on Wednesday night.
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Both the expansion Timbers (9-12-5) and Chivas (7-9-10) are jockeying with the New York Red Bulls for a postseason bid with eight games left apiece.
It was Portland’s third straight win at home.
"Job’s not done yet," said Brunner, who scored his third goal of the season in the first half.
Chivas, which defeated Portland 1-0 on June 4 in Los Angeles, was playing its fifth straight road match. The team finished the trip 1-2-2.
Chivas was coming off a 2-2 draw with the Colorado Rapids on Saturday. Newly acquired forward Juan Pablo Angel scored in his first match for Chivas. Angel was given the night off against Portland because of Jeld Wen Field’s field turf.
"I think it felt like both teams knew they needed the points," Chivas coach Robin Fraser said. "Portland was on the front foot in the first half and got the goal they needed, I thought we played better in the second half and were able to drive them back a little bit but weren’t able to get the goal we needed."
The Timbers were coming off a 2-1 victory over the Whitecaps on Saturday night. Defender Futty Danso, who started against Vancouver after coach John Spencer adjusted his lineup, injured his right hamstring during the match and wasn’t available against Chivas.
Portland captain Jack Jewsbury had a free kick in the 28th minute, which sailed too high. A few minutes later, Chivas goalkeeper Dan Kennedy made a tremendous diving save of defender David Horst’s header.
Portland made it 1-0 in the 44th minute on defenseman Brunner’s running header off Mike Chabala’s corner kick. The Timbers have 10 goals off set pieces this season, most in the MLS.
"I didn’t think it went in," Brunner said. "I kind of did a double-take on it."
Known recently for giving up late goals, the Timbers were able to keep Chivas away from goalkeeper Troy Perkins. Portland had 20 shots while their opponents had 12.
Chivas came close in the 73rd minute when Marcos Mondaini’s cross went just wide.
The Timbers head east to play D.C. United on Saturday, with the possibility that Hurricane Irene may bear down on the region.
With the victory, the Timbers pulled even with the Red Bulls in points for the 10th and final playoff spot, although New York still holds the advantage because of goal differential.
"We’ve got as good a chance as anybody for the eighth, ninth or 10th (playoff) positions," Spencer said. "We’re not just holding on for the 10th."
Chivas hosts Real Salk Lake on Saturday.
Chivas defender Michael Lahoud was injured early in the match. He tried to return but couldn’t and he was replaced by Mariano Trujillo. Fraser said Lahoud injured his ankle.
There was widespread speculation that Chivas was going to acquire forward Sammy Ochoa, 24, who grew up in the Los Angeles area.
Major League Soccer confirmed Wednesday that Ochoa had signed with the league and his team would be determined vial the allocation rankings. Ochoa played for Estudiantes Tecos last season and is said to be looking to jump start his career in MLS.
Ochoa played for the U.S. national team in the 2005 under-20 World Cup and the under-23 side before the 2008 Olympics.
The crowd was announced at 18,627, Portland’s 14th straight sellout.
The Timbers said earlier in the day that it would expand capacity for two matches this season, against New England on Sept. 16 and the regular-season home finale against Houston on Oct. 14.
Some of the uppermost seats at Jeld-Wen have been tarped over since the start of the season. The Timbers say if the increased capacity does not diminish the "overall fan experience" they will look to making the change permanent next season.