[Recap] Kowaluk Goal Gives Portland Timbers Tie Against Chivas USA

Quick Recap

The Portland Timbers tied Chivas USA tonight before another impressive preseason crowd at Jeld-Wen Field. Chivas scored early on in the first half but the Timbers were able to battle back and end the game in a tie through a Ryan Kawulok goal on the day he signed with the team.

Timbers Line-up

Gleeson (Bendick 45’)

Palmer (Kawulok 60’), Jean-Baptiste, Brunner, Taylor

Richards (Alhassan 66’), Jewsbury (Chara 45’), Marcelin, Braun

Rincon (Perlaza 75’), Dike

Write ups of each half plus some notes on the game after the jump

First Half

The Timbers started off the game well with some extended periods of possession include a Freddy Braun run into the Chivas box that ended up with Freddy on the ground, the Timbers Army calling for a penalty, and the referee awarding a goal kick.

Portland earned several corner kicks early in the game, but like all of their possession, were not able to make them count. Lovel Palmer was able to put a shot on net in the the 12th minute, but it was handled well by Chivas USA keeper Tim Melia.

The Timbers kept up the pressure until the 22nd minute when Chivas broke down the right side. Alan Souza whipped in a cross at chest height that Cesar Romero was just able to get a foot to, sending the ball past Jake Gleeson at the near post and into the back of the net.

Andrew Jean-Baptiste attempted a bicycle kick clearance on the cross rather than risk heading it toward his own net, which left Romero unmarked behind him. The defensive breakdown seemed to shake the Timbers as they were unable to regain the impressive possession that they had enjoyed before the goal and at several points Chivas looked liable to score another, which they almost did as a chip header nearly looped over Gleeson who was able to dive backwards and get his hands on the ball before it crossed the line. Shortly after Chivas had another golden opportunity as Gleeson came for a corner but was unable to get to it and a Chivas player headed toward the goal. Luckily, Chris Taylor was positioned on the line and was able to flick the ball up and over the bar.

The Timbers tried to regain their footing during the first half and had several near chances through the industry of Sebastian Rincon and Bright Dike, each of whom played very aggressive defense in the attacking third. In the final minutes of the half the Timbers best chances came through Rincon and Dike charging down the Chivas defense as it tried to clear.

Finally, the first half came to an end with a brief scuffle between the two teams as Jean-Baptiste shielded the ball out of play in a manner a little too physical for one Chivas USA player. The situation was quickly defused (perhaps because AJB is about a foot taller than most of the Chivas line-up) after an ineffective shove by the Chivas player and the half ended after the ensuing throw-in.

Second Half

In the second half the Timbers came out of the locker room flat and were on their heels from the whistle. Chivas looked energized and controlled possession with plenty of short passes. The addition of Diego Chara to the game for Jack Jewsbury changed the dynamic in the midfield greatly but it seemed that he and James Marcelin had some trouble adjusting to each other at first. Chara, initially, was playing very high up the pitch while Marcelin was playing a very deep defensive midfield position. What resulted seemed almost like a 5-2-3 at times until both players were better able to figure out how to cover each other.

The Timbers were pressed early on by Chivas but held firm, with Bright Dike even tracking back to the Timbers’ defensive third to dispossess a Chivas player. However, each time the Timbers regained the ball they gave it right back to the opposition in a frightful display of passing.

Joe Bendick was forced to make an early save after several Chivas chances were whistled offside. Alan Romero found space on the Timbers left flank and fired low, but the shot was right at Bendick and he saved easily.

In the 60th minute Spencer went to his bench and brought on Ryan Kawulok for Lovel Palmer. Palmer, still recovering from injury, looked to have slowed down in the second half and the inclusion of Kowaluk on the right flank allowed the attack another dimension as he was able to make overlapping runs much more effectively than Palmer.

Six minutes later the Timbers brought on Kalif Alhassan for Brent Richards. With the fresh legs of Kowaluk on the right, Alhassan was given free reign to go anywhere on the field and he did, popping up all over the place. With Alhassan playmaking the Timbers were able to wrest the possession from Chivas and begin to assert themselves on the game once again.

A series of crosses and free kicks into the Chivas box began and the Timbers poured on the pressure, taking several shots, only to have them blocked away. However, in the 78th minute, that pressure paid off as an Alhassan corner kick was allowed to bounce in the box and Ryan Kowaluk slammed it home. Melia was able to get a hand to the ball, but the power of the strike caused it to spin off of him and bounce across the goal line.

With the score tied up the Timbers continued to pressure the Chivas defense, but were unable to get any further chances on net and the game ended in a 1-1 draw.

Notes

  • Chris Taylor was very involved on the left wing, getting forward well and putting in several excellent crosses. However, most of Chivas’ best chances came from the Timbers’ left.
  • Freddy Braun was also very involved and impressed with his ability to hold the ball, even when surrounded by Chivas players.
  • Sebastian Rincon, at only 18 years old, showed that he can hang with the grown-ups. Exhibiting some moves, strength, and hustle, Rincon just needs a little bit of work and he could be a world class forward.
  • James Marcelin had a few frustrating moments today but showed that, given a few minutes to adjust, he can play with either Jewsbury or Chara in the midfield.
  • Brent Richards had a rough day. He seemed to have trouble getting into the right spaces and making the right pass, particularly in the second half.
  • Lovel Palmer was not effective getting forward and seemed uneasy at times with the ball at his feet. It was good to see him get a shot off, but he needs to get fully healthy ASAP.
  • Neither Jake Gleeson nor Joe Bendick had much of an opportunity to impress, but Gleeson’s struggles on corner kicks cannot have helped his position on the depth chart.

This is the first post game not written up by Ryan in a while so I hope it isn’t too crazy. Let us know what you thought of the game in the comments.

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