By ANNE M. PETERSON
AP Sports Writer
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- Scottish striker Kris Boyd was succinct in
describing his first Major League Soccer goal.
"The ball came in. I got my head on it and it went to the back
of the net," he said.
Boyd scored the go-ahead goal and the Portland Timbers went on
to win their home opener 3-1 over the Philadelphia Union on
Boyd's goal came off Kalif Alhassan's cross in the 66th minute
against Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath.
Boyd, the Scottish Premier League's all-time leading scorer, was
acquired by the Timbers in the offseason. His goal came with the
match tied at 1 after Gabriel Gomez's goal for Philadelphia and
rookie Andrew Jean-Baptiste's equalizer earlier in the half.
Alhassan added a goal of his own in the 76th minute in the MLS
opener for both teams.
Portland captain Jack Jewsbury predicted it was the first of
many goals for Boyd, who had 164 goals in 296 appearances in the
SPL with Kilmarnock and Rangers. He was that league's top scorer
for four seasons.
"He's a guy they're going to have to watch out for whenever he's
in the box," Jewsbury said.
The Timbers went 11-14-9 last year and finished out of the
playoffs in their inaugural season, but they were 9-5-3 at
Jeld-Wen Field where they have the support of their wildly
enthusiastic supporters' group, the Timbers Army.
Philadelphia finished 11-8-15 and reached the Eastern Conference
semifinals, but the team was active in the offseason, bringing
in 14 players and losing 13. Among the players gone are leading
scorer Sebastien Le Toux and goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon.
Like last season, the Timbers Army opened the season at home by
singing the national anthem before the entire stadium lofted
colored cards - small tarps actually, because of a driving rain
- in a "tifo" fan display in honor of the team.
Temperatures in the low 40s accompanied the rain when the
nationally televised game started. The wind affected the
trajectory of the ball at times when it was airborne.
MacMath had a strong first half, fending off five Timbers'
shots, and the match was scoreless at the break.
The Union got a scare in the 24th minute when defender Carlos
Valdes went down after a collision with Boyd. A stretcher was
brought on to the field, but Valdes walked off and was able to
"I think that the first half was a good thing for us," said
Union coach Peter Nowak. "I think the crowd does do a good job
of going for 90 minutes. I don't think we should be affected by
it. I just think we should do better on our pressure."
Philadelphia midfielder Gomez's hard kick from out in front of
the box appeared to be helped by Jean-Baptiste before it sailed
past goalkeeper Troy Perkins in the 51st minute. Originally
ruled an own goal, after the match it was determined that it was
given to Gomez.
But the Timbers evened it in the 54th minute when
Jean-Baptiste's header was bobbled by MacMath and bounced into
Jean-Baptiste was selected with the eighth overall pick in the
MLS SuperDraft this year out of Connecticut. He got the start
Monday night because defender Futty Danso fractured a bone in
his left foot during training and will be out four to six weeks.
After the match, Jean-Baptiste had not heard that the own goal
had been reversed.
"It's a mistake I've made before," he said. "The first thought
that I had was `I've got to get it back."'
Jean-Baptiste was star-struck by the atmosphere at the match,
which attracted 20,438 fans, a sellout. The Timbers have proven
so popular in Portland that seating capacity at Jeld-Wen was
increased by some 2,000 seats this season.
"It's pretty exciting. I wasn't expecting that many people,"
Jean-Baptiste said. "It felt good playing in front of that
Boyd's goal put Portland in front.
"I'm hoping that he can go on, stay healthy, go on to score a
lot of goals and become a legend here," Timbers coach John
Spencer said. "He definitely has the goal-scoring ability to do
that, that's why he's here."
Jewsbury assisted on both Jean-Baptiste and Alhassan's goals.
Another Timbers offseason acquisition, Franck Songo'o of
Cameroon, who played last season for Spanish side Albacete. The
24-year-old injured his right knee in training and did not play.
MLS Commissioner Don Garber was at the game.