Orji Okwonkwo scored on either side of half-time as the Montreal Impact beat the visiting Portland Timbers 2-1 on Wednesday night.
Okwonkwo, 21, opened the scoring in the 28th minute and delivered a highlight-reel, go-ahead goal in the 66th for the Impact (9-7-3, 30 points). Montreal returned from the recent break in MLS play to win for the third time in four matches and stay in second place in the Eastern Conference.
Both sides played without several key contributors on Wednesday. Montreal had the likes of midfielders Samuel Piette, Omar Browne and Michael Azira, plus defender Daniel Lovitz, away on international duty.
Playing the third of four matches in 12 days, including U.S. Open Cup action, the Timbers (5-8-2, 17 points) started just three players who were in the lineup Saturday for a 4-0 win over Houston. Stars Diego Valeri (four goals, 10 assists) and Brian Fernandez (five goals in four games) were among those who did not play for Portland.
With those two potent offensive performers getting a breather, it was no surprise Montreal was the aggressor on the evening. Okwonkwo had the first serious chance of the match in the 21st minute, while one-on-one with Portland keeper Jeff Attinella. However, Okwonkwo's right-footed shot hit the near post.
It would be seven minutes later that Okwonkwo was rewarded. The Nigerian midfielder got behind the Portland back line and broke free with a volley from Bacary Sagna that he drilled past Attinella into the far side of the goal.
Montreal continued the pressure the rest of the first half, but the Timbers hung tough despite not making much happen in the final third. That was until the 53rd minute. Off a free kick, Portland equalized on Tomas Conechny's header amid a crowded box that stunned the Impact faithful.
However, the Impact responded past the hour mark when Okwonkwo delivered his fourth of the season on a brilliant turnaround, right-footed strike that Attinella barely saw.
The start of the match was delayed roughly 40 minutes due to lightning.