PORTLAND — Diego Valeri scored a spectacular 30-yard goal in the 33rd minute to lead the Portland Timbers to a 3-1 victory over the Los Angeles Galaxy on Sunday.
Valeri, who played Saturday in the MLS All-Star Game against Real Madrid, created space for himself when receiving a pass from Roy Miller. After taking a few strides toward goal, he unleashed a kick that flew beyond the reach of Los Angeles goalkeeper Brian Rowe for his team-leading 12th goal of the season.
"It's always nice to score a nice goal," Valeri said. "When you execute what you are thinking, it's always nice."
Said Rowe, "By the time I took a step he had already hit it and it was coming back."
The game got off to a frantic start, with two goals and one goal disallowed thanks to the newly implemented Video Assistant Referee (VAR) in the first 10 minutes.
Timbers defender and captain Liam Ridgewell, who missed the last eight games because of a quad injury, started the action in the 5th minute when he headed a bouncing corner kick into the roof of the net for his second of the season.
"It's been a long road back. It's nice," Ridgewell said of returning. "My boy said just before I went out, 'Go and score a goal'. So did my mom. So, hopefully they can stay a little longer and keep saying it."
A minute after Ridgewell scored, Joao Pedro threaded a pass behind the Portland defense for Emmanuel Boateng to race onto and slip a shot under Timbers goalkeeper Jake Gleeson to tie the score. It was Boateng's third goal.
In the 10th minute, it appeared Los Angeles took the lead after Gyasi Zardes collected a floating header from Boateng just in front of the net and knocked it in. But referee Drew Fischer consulted with the VAR and determined Zardes knocked the ball in with his hand, nullifying the goal and earning Zardes a yellow card. It marked the second time a goal has been disallowed after video review since the technology was implemented this weekend.
"I think (VAR) helped, obviously, in that moment," Portland coach Caleb Porter said. "Going down 2-1 versus staying at 1-1, that was a key moment in the match."
Said Los Angeles coach Sigi Schmid: "We're disappointed and Portland was obviously the better team in the first half, superior to us at that time point. But goals change games. The goal that gets disallowed — I mean it's the correct reasoning, but it's a goal that we should have just headed in."
Portland (3-6-3) added an insurance goal in the 53rd minute. Fanendo Adi charged toward goal, then backheeled the ball into the path of teammate Alvas Powell, who ripped a shot from a tight angle past Rowe for his first of the season.
"People always ask, 'Well, how do you close out games better?' Well, you score another goal. That's the best way," Porter said. "In the past, that's what we've done. So we wanted to stay on the front foot and we wanted to create a two-goal margin, which we did."
The game marked the first appearance for Jonathan dos Santos with the Galaxy (5-5-1). The star midfielder was acquired from Villarreal on July 27.
Kickoff was moved up from 1 p.m. to 11 a.m. because of temperatures expected to be in the mid-90s.