Throughout tonight's 1-1 draw with Chivas USA, the Portland Timbers looked disjointed, like a team of strangers playing together for the first time. Coming off of the team's cohesive 4-0 dismantling of Toronto last weekend, the Timbers' inability to come together and take the game to Chivas was an unwelcome surprise to many.
It was in the first half that the Timbers struggled the most, eventually giving up the opening goal to Chivas in the 22'.
After a failed set piece attempt on Chivas' goal with the centerbacks pushed forward, the Timbers were scrambling to get back and cover their goal. With Timbers players spread out all over the field, Chivas were able to ping the ball from sideline to sideline as they quickly counterattacked down the pitch, where it eventually fell to Calos Borja on the Timbers' left flank. Borja curled in a well weighted cross to the head of Bryan De la Fuente who, with little pressure from Diego Chara and Pa Modou Kah, perfectly placed his header over Donovan Ricketts and into the back of the net.
In the second half things started to come together for the Timbers, largely thanks to the half-time introduction of Diego Valeri for Kalif Alhassan. Valeri was quick to leave his mark on the game as, in the 50', he found the Timbers' equalizer.
The move started with Valeri carrying the ball over the half for the Timbers and fighting through a two handed grab to his shoulders from a Chivas defender before sending the ball out wide to Chara who whipped the ball into the box. The cross found no-one, but fell to the feet of Jose Adolfo Valencia just outside the six. Faced with a swarm of Chivas defenders, Trencito dropped the ball back to Valeri who fired through the crowd, catching Dan Kennedy off guard and getting the Timbers on the board.
It seemed the sort of game changing moment that should give the Timbers they need to pull out a win, but a draw was all that was on offer as neither team could make the most of the limited chances available through the rest of the match.