Despite having home field advantage in front of a reported 18,627 fans the Portland Timbers were simply no match for the recent Eredivisie champions AFC Ajax, despite creating some impressive chances.
We knew heading into last night's game that we were in for an unusual game. That was made ever more apparent when it was confirmed earlier yesterday that head coach John Spencer would attempt to give every available Timbers player a chance to get some game time with the Dutch champions. So heading into last night's match was realistically going to be a huge challenge anyway, especially considering Ajax was seemingly holding nothing back.
The first half was almost entirely dominated by Ajax. There were parts of the game where I'd swear the Timbers had no more than a single touch in the span of five or so minutes. Eventually this kind of domination paid off when the Timbers finally broke down and allowed a cheeky goal by Lorenzo Ebecilio. Despite having multiple defenders in the box Ajax was still able to score deftly.
Around the latter part of the first half the Timbers finally were able to get a grip on the game and actually played some impressive counter style attacking football.
The second half of the game was far more enjoyable as a Timbers fan than the first half. While Spencer made a large number of subs over the half time break, the team seemed better prepared and more alive than they were in the first 30 minutes of the first half. Last night's game also saw the return of strikers Brian Umony and Eddie Johnson, two players who've each been out for more than a month.
I would say, overall, Ajax still controlled much of the second half, but the overall tempo of the game was much more controlled. While I was never too impressed with the striking (both strikers should be given some leeway here) the defense being lead by home favorite Futty Danso was far more organized than they were in the first half.
Finally, less than a minute away from the end of the match, Ajax managed to slide home a squeaker of a goal. It was disappointing, but the Timbers are still working on controlling a game for the full 90 minutes so it wasn't entirely unexpected.
- Hot damn. I mentioned Ajax being better than the Timbers in my preview thread, but I had no idea they'd come with as much ferocity as they did.
- Both Brian Umony and Eddie Johnson need game time. It was clear from last night that they were each a little rusty.
- Eric Brunner got the captain's armband. Impressive for a young defender.
Sal Zizzo is getting better every game.
- Freddie Braun impressed me quite a bit last night. I don't remember the exact minute but he juked a couple Ajax players at one point.
Tonight's post match wrap up is, as you can tell, a little abbreviated. Given the flux of players and the game itself, I didn't feel like a full tactical analysis was really necessary. Good game Timbers and better luck against West Bromwich Albion!