The Portland Timbers came into the match as the only MLS team unbeaten on the road. FC Dallas entered the game as the top team in the league and the best home team, having won all five home games. One of these streaks was going to end in Frisco.
Caleb Porter made three changes to the usual line-up, replacing the injured Mikael Silvestre with Andrew Jean Baptiste and inserting Kalif Alhassan and Frederic Piquionne. The changes made for a sloppy first ten minutes of the game and allowed FC Dallas to set a high pressure line, which Portland handled poorly. Once they did calm their nerves, though, they were able to apply their own high pressure, turning the tables on FC Dallas.
But the momentum would swing back and forth constantly over the course of the first half. Portland did well to create chances at times, as Piquionne hit the post with a shot from close range. But the boys in green were also too readily giving up possession in dangerous areas, creating chances that thankfully Dallas squandered.
Neither team was able to find the back of the net, and the match was scoreless at the break.
The second half was very much like the first, with a lot of back and forth soccer. Each team created chances but failed to capitalize. It wasn't until the 70th minute that Portland finally broke the deadlock.
Rodney Wallace received the ball at the top of the penalty area from Deigo Valeri and fended off Je-Vaughn Watson as he tried to turn the corner towards goal. From about twelve yards off the byline on the left side of the penalty area, Wallace looped a back-post cross, hoping that one of his teammates would be there. As it turned out, Darlington Nagbe, strolling forward as he watched the play, was in perfect position to squeeze the volley between keeper Raul Fernandez and the post.
After Nagbe's goal FC Dallas were playing from behind at home for the first time of the 2013 season. The lead was short lived. 7 minutes later Andrew Jean-Baptiste was called for an off-the-ball foul after a blocked cross. Blas Perez grabbed onto Jean-Baptiste with both arms as he ran into the penalty area, drawing Jean-Baptiste to do the same. Perez then spun himself around in front of goal so as to face the referee, and conveniently let go, throwing his hands in the air and falling over, at the most opportune moment. Most referees would never have called the foul, especially knowing Perez's reputation.
Kenny Cooper stepped up and, rather than doing his trademark stutter step PK, he actually hit it like a normal human being, scoring easily.
Although both teams fought hard for the win after the equalizer, it was Dallas creating the more promising chances. Kenny Cooper was played just behind the defense at one point, but his half volley attempt in the 87th minute was parried over the goal by a sprawling Donovan Ricketts as he once again came up big to preserve the point.
With the game ending in a draw Portland, has not lost in 8 games and remain the only team in MLS still unbeaten on the road.
- Weekday games are killer on attendance any where outside Cascadia.
- Diego Chara is a master at the hook slide; his tackle on David Ferreira was amazing, as was his run to recover
- Piquionne was OK out there. I would like to have seen what El Trencito could do with a start.
- Rodney Wallace's great year continues, once again making a big contribution off the bench.
- The 2013 version of Donovan Ricketts is vastly improved at organizing the defense in front of him and controlling the flow of the game.
- A draw on the road against the top team is a good thing. Now hopefully they can now get a win at home.
- Silvestre was missed. There were quite a few shaky moments, and in the end AJB and Futty Danso owed much of their success to Dallas' poor performance in the attacking third. Portland still needs a veteran presence back there.
- Portland did not look as sharp as we have seen them, making too many errant passes in the defensive half.