Niezgoda scores on late header, Timbers beat Inter Miami 1-0
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Jaroslaw Niezgoda came off the bench to score on a header in the 83rd minute and the Portland Timbers beat Inter Miami 1-0 on Sunday to extend their undefeated streak to eight.
The fourth-place Timbers (14-10-4) moved within two points of third-place Colorado, with the Rapids falling 3-0 at Seattle on Sunday night.
“I don’t think we had our best stuff tonight, but we dug it out,” Portland goalkeeper Steve Clark said.
It is the first time that Inter Miami has visited Portland and it was the farthest Miami had traveled for a game since it joined Major League Soccer last year.
Miami (9-13-5) is 11th in the East. It has lost four straight.
“I think the game was a type of grind game. But ultimately, we were able to defend very well, we’re able to create some very good moments offensively,” said Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese. “And then we found a very important goal that has given us three points that are very crucial for our run to continue to stay focused on the playoffs.
Sebastian Blanco, who has been a spark for the Timbers since returning from ACL surgery, did not start but was available off the bench after leaving Wednesday’s 2-1 win over LAFC with a sore knee. He came on in the 67th minute.
Gonzalo Higuain’s low shot toward the left corner in the 50th minute for Miami was saved by Clark. Higuain leads Miami with 10 goals this season.
Portland’s Felipe Mora appeared to score in the 58th minute but the Timbers were offside.
Moments after Niezgoda’s goal off a cross from Blanco, Julian Carranza appeared to score an equalizer for Miami but he was whistled for a push on the header.
Miami coach Phil Neville was livid after the game, saying his team was robbed of a goal.
“Ultimately, I’ve got to fight and stand up for my team and for my football club, and ultimately, we were robbed of points today because of a poor referee decision, that isn’t just a one-off,” Neville said. “I’ve seen it time and time again. I’m frustrated, a little bit emotional, I’m sure.”
The atmosphere at the game was muted somewhat after two former Portland Thorns players leveled allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct against North Carolina coach Raul Riley, former coach of the Thorns. The women went public in a story published Thursday by The Athletic.
Riley was immediately fired by the Courage and both FIFA and U.S. Soccer opened investigations into why he was able to remain a coach even after the players brought their concerns to the league. On Friday, the NWSL called off its games this weekend and commissioner Lisa Baird stepped down.
The owners of the Timbers also own the Thorns. Portland ’s MLS players put out a statement signed by the team in solidarity with the NWSL’s players. Supporters from both teams rallied outside Providence Park on Saturday evening.
Many in the Timbers Army supporters group wore red on Sunday to honor the Thorns. A large banner reading “Believe, Support and Protect NWSL Players” was hung behind the north goal and the fans let off red and black smoke bombs in the 25th minute.
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