Wake Up, It's Over

It was a lazy 1-1 draw to befit a sparsely attended Sunday matinee in the suffocating Houston heat between the Dynamo and still winless Portland Timbers.

Before you decide if its now time to panic, considering the Timbers have now gone through March and April with no win are are sitting comfortably in last place in the entirety of MLS, you'll first have to wake yourself up.

The last 30 minutes of the match were just about as slow and boring as any the Timbers have played in their MLS existence, as two average teams battled each other by trying to make the other side fall asleep.

The result wasn't bad for the Timbers: A first road point of the season, and a first road goal for a Portland player in front of three consecutive home games. But the performance was far behind what the Timbers delivered in the loss last week at Real Salt Lake, and a team better than Houston would have pummeled Portland the second half.

It looked good at the beginning: Caleb Porter, looking for a way to get Gaston Fernandez back into the team, slotted him in up top in place of Maxi Urruti, whose absence wasn't met with any tears.

Thing is, that was Portland's best eleven. It was the team Porter should have played from the beginning this year. The Timbers had the back-line that showed so well last year, five quality and respected players in the midfield, and Fernandez in for the laughable Urruti up top.

Early in the match Portland had possession, but Houston had chances. In the 16th minute, the newly-returned Brad Davis swung in a pinpoint ball for an unmarked Will Bruin to head down and in from five yards.

Okay, Bruin may have been laxly marked, but saying Bruin was marked makes Pa Moudu Kah look even worse than saying he wasn't marked at all.

For whatever reason, Kah has been culpable a number of times this season not marking a striker in the box on a scoring opportunity. Bruin took advantage this time. It was Houston's first goal in over 400 minutes of play. Nothing like the Timbers to cure what ails you this season.

After a flurry of chances directly after the Dynamo goal for the home team, the game settled into its advancingly languid pace. In 33rd minute, after a long spell of possession, the Timbers finally hit the back of the net on the road.

Kalif Alhassan played a pass behind his intended target Darlington Nagbe, but Gaston Fernandez latched onto it, and rifled it past Tally Hall to knot the match at one. It was an exceptional performance from Fernandez, who has played his way back into the Timbers' 2014 plans.

But from there, the game just got worse and worse.

Save for a bizarre sequence when Donovan Ricketts got called for handling a back-pass giving the Dynamo an indirect free-kick in the box, there was little to shout about for the rest of the game.

David Horst showed very well for Houston, as the Dynamo possessed in the same way in the second half that the Timbers did in the first. The best opportunity for a winner came from Bruin as he charged after a low cross, but his shot was swallowed whole by Donovan Ricketts.

Though there was clearly space for Houston to exploit down the stretch, they lacked quality in the final third. Multiple times, Dynamo players miscued or simply missed simple finishes from ten yards and in. Portland were happy to escape with a point.

Hopefully the Timbers' disappearing act in the second half had more to do with the 88 degree temperature in Houston than anything else, and getting back to damp and dark Portland will cure that ill.

But even in the first half, when Portland had almost 70% possession, the weren't creating anything offensively. Fernandez's goal was a mistake. Alhassan's misplayed pass was Portland's best and only great chance of the game, and Nagbe's run to get the ball was turned out to be the most effective off-ball run the team has produced all season.

Fernandez played well coming in up top, and it's safe to say that the #9 is his position going forward. But he's still not a target player, and as the match went on, he dropped deeper and deeper into the midfield looking for the ball.

Diego Valeri's lack of form is concerning. And Nagbe and Alhassan have faded since breaking out against Seattle. Neither has a goal this year.

Merrit Paulson hasn't tweeted anything for over two weeks because, well, if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. Don Garber must be pleased.

But you have to believe that something drastic will happen unless the Timbers are content with depressing game after depressing game. At some point, the dam will break. The Timbers face a critical three-game home-stand against three decent teams. Three points aren't guaranteed in against DC, LA, or Columbus, but the Timbers need wins. Fast.

For now, there is just a lack of energy and belief.

Speaking of energy and belief, I haven't heard Porter tell people to keep their highs low and their lows high recently, which is good advice for Portland's current predicament. Keep your lows high, because there aren't any highs to be high about.

Portland played their best team. And if that's the best that Portland's best can play, it's going to be damn ugly when that dam breaks.

Alright guys, I don't believe I have to say this but, just in case, please do not submit anything racist, homophobic, sexist or otherwise not appropriate for even the younger Timbers fans.

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