PORTLAND, Oregon — Diego Valeri was back at full speed after missing three games because of an ankle injury.
Valeri scored his eighth and ninth goals of the season to help the Portland Timbers beat the Seattle Sounders 3-1 on Sunday.
“Certainly, you need your key guys to step up and play well, and we always get that,” Portland coach Caleb Porter said. “Look at last year. When we needed big performances from our big players, we got it.”
Valeri’s first came on the brink of halftime. He combined with Lucas Melano to move the ball down the left wing, and Melano eventually threaded a pass through three defenders. Valeri ripped a right-footed shot past goalkeeper Stefan Frei and into the bottom-right corner.
“We need to get tighter to him (Valeri),” Seattle coach Sigi Schmidsaid. “If you give him that much time and space, he’ll show you he’s a good player. We gave him too much time and space.”
Portland doubled the lead 5 minutes into the second half. After receiving a cross-field pass from Jermaine Taylor, Valeri worked his way past defender Joevin Jones near the goal-line and sliced a shot with the outside of his foot over Frei and off the far post.
“I tried to put the ball there (on the back post). Maybe someone would get a deflection. I tried to put the ball there, a hard ball for the keeper,” Valeri said. When asked if he was surprised it went in, he admitted he was. “A little bit, because it was a great goal.”
In the 59th minute, Seattle cut the deficit in half when Chad Marshall headed in Andreas Ivanschitz’s corner kick for his third goal of the season.
“We had a lot of corners. The service was good at times. We scored a good goal off that header. (Nelson) Valdez almost had the header right before that,” Schmid said.
Five minutes later, Portland restored its two-goal advantage. Melano carried the ball from box to box before sliding a pass across to Fanendo Adi, who chipped a shot over Frei for his 10th goal of the season.
Portland goalkeeper Jake Gleeson had five saves for his sixth win of the season.
Portland extended its league unbeaten streak to nine games (4-0-5) and moved into a tie with Vancouver for fifth place in the Western Conference. Seattle has lost seven of its last 10 league matches (2-7-1). It is ninth in the conference.
Seattle was missing captain Clint Dempsey, who was suspended after receiving a red card Wednesday night against FC Dallas.