The Portland Timbers goes down early and comes from behind to grab the lead on two spectacular goals from Darlington Nagbe. Portland then forgets that games last 90+ minutes as they pack it in around the 84th minute and concede to late goals.
Real Salt Lake and tried to replicate New England's early success against the Timbers from last weekend, but thankfully the Timbers were ready and able to deal with it. After RSL's initial surge the game fell into the feeling out stage. Over the course of the next 5 minutes Portland seemed like the team that was pressing and not staying relaxed on the ball. Meanwhile RSL showed their slick passing skills as they worked the ball around looking for openings in the defense.
The openings did come as the pace of play seemed to pick up each minute, which seemed to favor Portland. Despite Portland's fluid attack RSL was able to threaten multiple times, with the most dangerous coming in the 16th minute. Luis Gil was able to beat Lovel Palmer on the right side and hit a low ball across the front of the goal, which Troy Perkins was able to dive on.
The game from that point on had a feel of a boxing match where punch and counter punches are being thrown. RSL would challenge, and when Portland would gain possession they would threaten the goal. Portland had the best chance in the back and forth play in the 32nd minute. A loose ball in the middle of the field fell to Captain Jack Jewsbury who played a great ball to an onrushing Diego Chara. Chara then played a through ball into the box for his compatriot Jorge Perlaza, who touched the ball past a diving Nick Rimando. Despite the great buildup Perlaza was not able to get his wide angle shot into the goal.
Six minutes later Portland rued their missed chance. Alvaro Saborio found space in the middle of the pitch and hit a through ball to Ned Gabavoy. Grabavoy would have been offside as Andrew Jean Baptiste had stepped up to play the offside trap. The problem with that was Rodney Wallace was running in the opposite direction and played Grabavoy onside. Wallace then compounded the problem and while lunging for the ball hit it with his hand. The Referee immediately blew the whistle and pointed to the spot and Saborio was able to convert the PK.
Portland once again showed fight and continued to battle for the rest of the half. Their attitude was rewarded with two more chances in the waning stages of the half. Perlaza once again found himself on the end of a great ball, this time from Kris Boyd, but his volley went wide of the goal. Three minutes later, in the 43rd minute, Eric Alexander showed some individual talent as he cut inside from his wide position to hit a great shot. Nick Rimando had to dive at full stretch to grab the shot.
Even with all the positives Portland still found themselves going into the locker room down one.
Portland came out in the second half and continued the offensive momentum they built towards the end of the second half. The breakthrough finally came three minutes after the restart. RSL had throwin deep in their half, which was won by Captain Jack Jewsbury, and the ball fell to the feet of Alexander. Alexander played the ball centrally to Darlington Nagbe, who took a bad first touch but managed to flick the ball over his shoulder to play it past one RSL player and then poke it past Kyle Beckerman. After getting by Beckerman Nagbe hit the jets and attacked the middle of the field; when he was 20 yards out hit a shot which beat Rimando near post.
After the goal Portland had a scare second later but Beckerman's shot went wide of the net. Nagbe's goal fired the crowd up and the Timbers themselves. With the added energy Portland put their foot on the gas and were pressing for the go ahead goal. In the 56th minute Portland had a chance to grab the as Alexander blew by his defender near the end line and attacked the goal. His ball to Wallace was perfect but the shot was deflected into the air at the top of the box. Nagbe was the first player to the ball and hit a beautiful volley but straight at Rimando who made an easy save.
Portland had their opportunities but they gave up too many opportunities. RSL in the same span of time after Nagbe's goal hit the post and forced Troy Perkins into making multiple saves and clearances. If I had been watching this game as a neutral spectator I probably would have been very entertained.
The entertainment continued as Portland and RSL continued to swap chance after chance. It was as if the first one to blink would lose, and RSL blinked first. Of course it was a wonder strike from Nagbe which grabbed the lead in the 65th minute. Again RSL had a throw-in deep in their half, almost at the exact same spot as before, and this time Rodney Wallace won the ball with a header.
Wallace's header found Alexander who touched it to Chara. Chara then chipped it back to Alexander, who hit a first time looping chip to Nagbe. Nagbe let the ball bounce once and then settled it with his knee. With one RSL defender closing him down and another hot on his heels Nagbe did the unthinkable and hit a volley. Jamison Olave lunged to try and block the ball but was too late. The 5' 9" Rimando tried to touch it as it sailed over his head into the goal.
RSL didn't quit, and Jason Kreis brought more offensive players in Wil Johnson and Fabian Espindola. From the 70th minute on Portland seemed to bunker more and more with each passing minute. Despite the bunker mentality Portland did get their opportunities to salt the game away. In the 81st minute Franck Songo'o had a clearance fall to him at the top of the box and he hit a great volley, but again it was right at Rimando.
By the 85th Minute Portland had abandoned all pretense of attack and just hoofed the ball up the field. RSL continued to attack and possess the ball in Portland's half, and in the 89th minute they were able to find the equalizer. James Mareclin had his pocket picked deep in Portland's half, and the loose ball found it's way to Jonny Steele, who played the ball to Javier Morales. Morales drew the attention of 3 Portland Defenders but easily played the ball right up the middle of the pitch to Johnson, who laid the ball off to a wide open Steele. Steele beat Brunner and then nutmegged Jean-Baptiste with his shot to the far post and in.
3 minutes later Beckerman looked around at the top of the box and saw there is no one, and I mean no one with-in 20 yards of him. He was literally waving his arms and screaming at his team to get him the ball. Espindola, near the corner flag, just standing there while Lovel Palmer waited for him to move, saw Beckerman and chipped him the ball. Beckerman then hit a low volley into the goal for the game winner.
Absolute deflating loss after being up by a goal with 1 minute plus stoppage time.
- Wallace has been involved giving up 2 of the 6 goals Portland has conceded this year.
- Alexander really showed why he is in the starting line-up
- Darlington Nagbe had a statement game, too bad it came in a loss
- James Marcelin looked terrible out there and did nothing to curb RSL's offensive onslaught
- The focus Kris Boyd garners from the opposing teams allows Perlaza and Nagbe a lot of space and time to create chances
- Bitter taste in my mouth, hopefully Chivas USA will be a mouthwash for that.
- Nagbe in the middle with Chara on the wing was an interesting line-up but really caused Chara to be gassed and hurt Portland late in the game.
- Lots of positives to build on and luckily Western Conference teams dropped games to Eastern teams.