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Portland almost closes their playoff door

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Houston pushed around Portland all night. (Photo by Jay Drowns/Getty Images)
Houston pushed around Portland all night. (Photo by Jay Drowns/Getty Images)
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Quick Recap:

The Portland Timbers never play like it was a must win game but more like it was just another game. The Houston Dynamo bullies Portland and essentially punches their play off ticket. 2-0 loss for Portland.

First Half

Portland really came out flat but the fans came out ready. The Atmosphere was electric but Portland did not come out with the same energy. Houston set the tone with a hard tackle on Portland in the 5th minute and the referee was really letting the teams play. Portland did have their chances, like in the 9th minute when Diego Chara hit a great ball to Kenny Cooper but Cooper was unable to hit the shot on frame. The next chance came 2 minutes later with a great cross from Cooper to a Streak Darlington Nagbe but his flick on was cleared away by the Houston Defense.

From then on Portland seemed to loose even more energy and ceded a lot of possession to Houston and when they did have the ball it was right down the wings. Those runs did earn the Timbers some chances like a shot in the 27th minute from Lovel Palmer or the two corners in a minute in the 30th minute. However the Timbers just could not get the final pass right.

Houston was the first to break through with a goal in the 35th minute. Sal Zizzo went down with an apparent injury and Houston, despite the Timbers having a man laying on the field, took 10 seconds to dribble down the field and then won a free kick. Not only was the free kick weaker than some of the other non calls but Houston could have put that ball out of bounds instead of attacking down the same side our injured player plays on. On the ensuing free kick Houston was able to score off a header.

After that the final 10 minutes were the typical final minutes of any first half when Portland has been scored on, nervous. All the momentum was on Houston's side and Portland was lucky to go in only down 1.

Second Half

Sal Zizzo needed to be subbed out at half due to a sprained knee, he will receive a more thorough examination later. Jorge Perlaza replaced him and pushed Nagbe out wide. The change did bring some renewed energy to the Timbers but that momentum was snatched away with a nasty foul on Mike Chabala. Their was clear intent to head hunt by Danny Cruz, if he was in the NFL he would have been flagged for a 15 yard personal foul, yet the referee only gave a yellow.

From that point on it was nothing but fouls and physical play from Houston. The physical play paid off as they were able to strip Chabala and Cruz was able to hit a long left footed shot, that John Spencer said "he will never score again", that found the back of net.

Portland continued to fight and Houston continued to foul. In the end Portland just couldn't overcome their own mistakes and the physical play of Houston.

Observations:

  • Despite the ref and everything he entailed he wasn't the one who hit both of the balls into the goal. Portland just didn't play well
  • Perkins really looked like he had his best game in terms of distribution.
  • Portland's play off hopes are down to a miracle.
  • Portland's set pieces were rubbish. There were maybe 2 good ones.
  • The total home attendance for Portland 320,051