Recap: Portland almost returns to 2011 form but still earns a draw

Quick Recap: The Portland Timbers looked terrible in the first and were very lucky to only give up 1 goal. Portland responded well to whatever John Spencer said at half time and looked like a different team in the 2nd half but only got the equalizer. 1 to 1 on the road.

First Half:

It was as if Portland decided to remind the fans what they were like on the road during the 2011 season. If you don't remember what they played like on the road lucky you. From the opening kick Portland looked listless and FC Dallas looked like they were into the game. 35 seconds into the game Portland got served a cross into the box and didn't sniff the attacking half with possession until 6 minutes later and that was a quick foray before a foul was called. The Free kick by Alhassan was then easily cleared by Dallas.

After the free kick from Portland it was all e set pieces. With the attacks dying Dallas was able to quickly turn around and attack Portland down the wings when Portland's outside backs were out of position. Thankfully with Dallas missing some of their more creative players they rarely threatened Portland's goal and when they did come close the CB's, Hanyer Mosquera and Eric Brunner, snuffed out any chance.

More after the jump.

Even with Portland's CBs having a stellar game all it took was one mistake for Dallas to punish the Timbers. This time both of Portland's outside backs made huge mistakes. The ball was played from the back line directly to a forward laid the ball off to the outside midfielder, all the while Palmer, who initially stepped to said midfielder, was jogging back. Once he realized the midfielder twas sprinting by him it was too late.

Wallace then tried to chest/head the ball once it bounced in the box, watching it again this ball was really hard to clear so I am a not too upset with Wallace, which allowed the ball to fall to a Dallas player. The first time shot he took was initially saved by Troy Perkins but he did spill a rebound right to Blas Perez. Who had a empty net to pass into. If you look at the replay you could fault Eric Brunner a little for losing touch with Perez but in the end I would blame the whole defensive unit.

The only other chance for either team came in the 36th minute off of a free kick won by Kris Boyd. Captain Jack Jewsbury hit a good free kick, seems like it was the only one of the night, and Lovel Palmer rose up beautifully and headed it towards the goal. The header looked like it was going in the back of the net but bounced off of the post. After that it seemed like woke up and started playing a little better. They still ended up going into the locker room down one.

Second Half:

John Spencer made a great decision and brought on Darlington Nagbe for Jorge Perlaza. By making this one change Portland looked like a different team. Instead of using the wings to create possession the Timbers were now able to play through the middle of the park by using Nagbe as a facilitator. Dallas was not prepared for a change that thwarted their defensive plan.

With the slight change to Portland the second half was looking like It was as if Portland knew this and amped up their pressure on Dallas' attacking players and even started their pressure higher up the field. This forced Dallas right into Portland's strengths on defense an aerial battle against Portland's CBs. With Portland gaining the upper hand the attacking flow started to gain momentum. 5 minutes into the second half, as with previous broadcasts, the team in the booth have John Spencer join them. As John Strong is asking Spenny what Darlington Nagbe brings differently to the field. I was going to try and describe it but I am just going to show you what happened.

Having a coach actually call the goal is just awesome!

From that point on Portland really kept the tightening the screws both defensively and offensively. Over the next 8 minutes Portland stifled any Dallas attack and garnered multiple half chances. The best chance came on a nifty buildup through the middle of the park which ended with a great through ball to Boyd who hit a terrific shot from 20 yards out which had to be parried away by Kevin Hartman.

Kris Boyd had another great opportunity on a long throw in from Palmer who threw the ball towards who flicked the ball on. A Dallas defender got a header on it but headed it right to Boyd near the touch line who then hit a worm burner of a shot. The shot was so hard Hartman only had the opportunity to put a foot out to deflect it off of the near post and back to him.

The last scare for the Timbers came in 73rd minute when Daniel Hernandez hit a long shot which gave Perkins trouble but he was able to push the ball out for a corner. This turned out to be the last chance for either team and the game winded down with a couple of half chances.

Observations:

  • Portland again came out flat in the first half but played a much better second half.
  • Eric Alexander and Rodney Wallace had a rough game and were more of a defensive and offensive liability.
  • Hanyer Mosquera and Eric Brunner were able to deal with almost everything Dallas threw at them.
  • Darlington Nagbe made a case for the starting lineup.
  • Kalif really made another case because of his focus on the defensive side of the ball.
  • Kris Boyd has a killer instinct and his shots are always on frame
  • Win at home and Tie on the road. First two games are following this adage and that is a good thing
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