It was like a heavy weight boxing match. Both teams stood toe to toe and punch after punch was thrown. The Los Angeles Galaxy had the early pressure and scored the early knockdown but the Portland Timbers picked themselves up off the mat to score a knockdown of their own. In the tenth round the Timbers landed a desperation hay-maker to earn the knockout.
The first 10 minutes of the game was a microcosm of the rest of the game. The Timbers held the possession at times but were unable to generate any kind of goal scoring chance. The Galaxy held a high line and tried to force Portland into a turnover so they could quickly counter.
When the counter did not work they would possess the ball and then fall down when any Portland player came within 5 yards. Well, not really but it sure seemed like there was someone who really hated LA and had a high powered rifle. At times Portland's defense looked out of position or asleep and this almost cost them in the early moments of the game.
In the 17th minute the Timbers luck ran out as they were caught out of position after an attack failed due to an offside call. The Galaxy quickly took it and attacked the Timbers' left side and whipped in the cross to a wide open Marcelo Sarvas and he easily headed it into the back of the net.
Once again Portland's slow start cost them for the second time in as many matches. This time however Portland picked up their intensity and found the equalizer quickly. Diego Valeri took a quick free kick and passed the ball to Nagbe into the box and his shot deflected off of his defender and right into the Ryan Johnson's run. Johnson easily put the ball into the net for the equalizer.
For the rest of the half it was a pretty even affair as Portland and LA each had long spells of possession. LA created the more dangerous chances, mainly off of the numerous free kicks they won due to the affinity for field turf and the feel of it on their skin. The most dangerous opportunity was on a free kick in the 38th minute of the game.
Donovan Ricketts was more than ready and once again produced a world class save. He makes it look easy, almost too easy. The ball was destined for the back the net until a huge gloved paw knocked it over the bar after a great reactionary diving save.
The rest of the game played like this: Portland possesses the ball and works their way all to the top of LA's penalty area. They can't quite unlock LA's defense. LA on the other hand possessed the ball, passed it around, then would wait for any Portland player to leave a leg anywhere close to theirs and fall down. Toledo would call the foul and LA would have a set piece opportunity.
By the end of the 90 minutes it looked as if the game would end in a tie. Andrew Jean Baptiste had other ideas. After Jose Valencia forced a late corner AJB headed in the game winner. His celebration was very Lou Garzaesque as he ripped off his shirt and ran to to celebrate an amazing game winning goal in the corner with the rest of the Timbers and the TA.
- I cannot say enough about how horrid the officiating was. So inconsistent. Even the corner Valencia forced in stoppage time could have been considered a foul.
- Speaking of Valencia, he gave hustled and really influenced the outcome of the game. Chasing down a lost cause and forcing the corner which turned into the game winner
- Ben Zemanski may not be Will Johnson but he was one of the few players playing a full 90 that still looked like he had more in the tank. His O2 levels must be Lance Armstrong like (Hopefully without the doping)
- Sarvas giveth and Sarvas taketh away. He scored the first goal and then on the game winner was on the post and should have stuck his foot out to stop it. Instead he turned and moved his feet away from the ball and watched it go into the back of the net.
- The race for first place in the west and possibly the supporter's shield will come down to the head to head meetings between RSL and Portland.
- I kind of feel sorry for the Sounders. Nah.... Not really. :)