After an early back-and-forth match, St Louis CITY2 (15-4-2, 48 pts) broke away in the second half and came away with three points over Portland Timbers2 (1-16-3, 9 pts) in a 5-3 victory on Saturday night at Hillsboro Park. CITY2 move into first place in the Western Conference and tops in MLS NEXT Pro.
A clash of the top two teams in the Frontier Division between CITY2 and Houston will kickoff Saturday, September 3 at 7 p.m. CST. With a win or a draw and a shootout win over Houston next week, St. Louis will clinch the Frontier Division.
St Louis CITY2 held the advantage in the first half, scoring minutes into the match and then regaining the lead after Timbers2 equalized. Akil Watts picked up a loose ball after a throw-in deep into the box and beat the Timbers2 goalkeeper to give CITY2 a 1-0 lead in the fourth minute. Following a Timbers2 equalizer in the 18th minute, Watts fed a beautiful through ball to João Klauss, who put CITY2 back in the lead in the 38th minute, 2-1.
The second half saw just as many goals as the first half as CITY2 found the back of the net three times while Portland was limited to just two goals. Moments into the second half, Klauss headed a ball into the box following a corner kick for Kyle Hiebert to redirect a header past the Portland keeper for the 3-1 lead in the 49th minute. Timbers cut the lead to one, 3-2 in the 51st minute but CITY2 regained the two-goal lead in the 53rd minute, 4-2, as Klauss again factored into the scoring with a close-range goal.
After a three-goal flurry during a four-minute stretch, a big defensive moment in the match came at the 58th minute with Ian McGrane making a point-blank breakaway save to keep CITY2 up two, 4-2.
Vitor Dias got into the offensive mix for CITY2 as he finished off a great cross into the box from Célio Pompeu to raise St Louis’ lead to three, 5-2 in the 72nd minute.
Klauss doubled his season totals in both goals and assists to four goals and three assists following a two-goal, two-assist performance against Portland. The Brazilian striker has tallied a goal or an assist in three consecutive matches. Dias, Hiebert, and Watts all contributed with a goal. Watts and Dias both raised their season goal totals to six, which is second-best on the team. Pompeu also tallied a two-assist game, while Watts contributed with one.
McGrane remained unbeaten in net as he improved to 6-0-1 with four saves on the net.
St. Louis added to their league-best road record, capturing their eighth win.