Chara, Guzman score in 2-0 Timbers’ victory over Toronto

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Diego Chara scored his first goal of the season in the 64th minute and the Portland Timbers went on to snap a four-game losing streak with a 2-0 victory over short-handed Toronto FC on Wednesday night.

Portland’s skid, which followed a 15-game unbeaten streak, was the Timbers’ longest since they lost five straight in July 2012.

Chara scored his last goal in March 2017 and has eight goals since joining the team its inaugural MLS year in 2011.

“Always, always I try to score,” the 32-year-old Colombian midfielder said. “Today I had the opportunity, and I feel really happy.”

Midfielder David Guzman, who played for Costa Rica in the World Cup this summer, added a goal for Portland in the 83rd minute. It was his second of the season.

“The guys put on a great performance and a lot of energy into the game to be able to get the result we wanted.” Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese said. “For us playing at home as I said, it was a necessity to be able to get those three points.”

The game marked the return of Jozy Altidore after a two-game suspension following a red card against New York City FC on Aug. 12. Originally a one-game suspension for kicking NYCFC defender Alexander Callens, MLS later added a second game.

But the Reds were without many of their other regulars, including Sebastian Giovinco, who leads the team with 10 goals and 12 assists. Fellow midfielders Jonathan Osorio and Victor Vazquez, along with defenders Drew Moor and Gregory van der Wiel, did not make the trip. Moor had recently returned from torn quadriceps muscle.

“Look, we’re here. We’re here to win the game, but we’re also trying to be aware of where we’re at, understanding that we wanted to take points from this game but we have an important home game and we have a really important stretch of, really one game a week, for most of the rest of the season,” coach Greg Vanney said.

Toronto hosts LAFC on Saturday

The Reds were coming off a much-needed 3-1 victory at home against Montreal last weekend. The defending MLS Cup champions remain below the line for playoff contention in the Eastern Conference.

The Timbers, too, had dropped out of the playoff picture in the West after losing 1-0 at home to the at home to the rival Seattle Sounders on Sunday. But the victory over the Reds moved Portland back above the line in fifth place.

The game was scoreless in the opening half, although the Timbers outshot the Reds 7-4 and dominated possession. Toronto had the best chance of the half in the 10th minute, but Lucas Janson’s shot from close range hit the right post.

Toronto goalkeeper Clint Irwin dove to save Sebastian Blanco’s left-footed blast shot in the 57th, but it nearly rebounded into the net off defender Justin Morrow.

Chara finally broke through in the 64th minute off a cross from Blanco. Afterward the Timbers Army supporters’ group chanted his name.

“I think our team did a great job today trying to create opportunities to score, and finally it worked,” Chara said.

Defender Jorge Villanfana made his first start of the season for the Timbers. He was acquired earlier this month from Santos Laguna of Liga MX. The move marked his return to Portland, where he played from 2014-15.

Also in the lineup and listed as an available sub was forward Lucas Melano, who was back in Portland after a loan to Argentina club Estudiantes. Melano came into the game to hearty applause in the 82nd minute.

It was the only meeting between the two teams this season. The Reds won last year’s meeting 4-1 in Toronto.