Brian Fernandez is just getting his feet wet in Major League Soccer, but the Union witnessed first-hand the explosive offensive ability of the 24-year-old forward from Santa Fe, Argentina.
Fernandez staked Portland to a 2-0 halftime lead by scoring both goals and the Timbers ended up beating the Union, 3-1, Saturday at Talen Energy Stadium.
The Union (7-4-3, 24 points) dropped a point behind leader D.C. United in the Eastern Conference. Portland improved to 4-6-2 (14 points).
The loss snapped a six-game unbeaten streak, with the Union 4-0-2 in that span.
“We ran against a really good team that was great on the counter attack,” manager Jim Curtin said. “And I still think the way we started the game and pushed it in the second half, it was still on our terms but there are certain nights you have to give credit to your opponent. They scored three really clinical goals off mistakes that we made and some nights that happens.”
This was only Fernandez’s second MLS game. In his first it only took him 12 minutes to score in a 1-1 draw against the host Houston Dynamo on May 15.
Fernandez was acquired via transfer from Mexican club Necaxa as a Designated Player on May 6.
His reputation to find the back of the net was well known prior to his arrival in MLS. Fernandez has 43 goals in 108 professional games, including 18 in 32 for Nexaxa.
The Union, boosted by Andre Blake’s diving save on a Jeremy Ebobisse header in the third minute, was taking it to a Portland team that lost 2-0 to Atlanta in last year’s MLS championship.
Pushing pace, the Union were creating chances, but not finishing.
Then Fernandez took over.
Stationed alone at the far post, he got behind Jack Elliott and headed in an Andy Polo cross in the 31st minute.
In the 36th minute, Fernandez completed a give-and-go from Diego Chara, who pulled Blake out of the goal, passed slightly backward to Fernandez who finished into an open net.
Late in the first half, the Union’s Elliott hit the post on a header.
The Union inserted Ilsinho in the second half and he helped contribute to their wide-open play, with plenty of dangerous chances. Few players can break down a defender like Ilsinho, who creates plenty of room for his teammates.
The Union cut the lead to 2-1 when Kacper Przybylko, tapped in a short one-timer after receiving an endline pass from Fafa Picault in the 47th minute. It was his fourth goal in his seventh game for the Union.
In the 63rd minute Przybylko hit the post on a rebound. Another dangerous chance came on Alejandro Bedoya’s blast from just outside the box, forcing keeper Steve Clark to make a diving save in the 70th minute.
Diego Valeri’s goal in the 87th minute iced the game for Portland.