Portland finally scores first on the road from a penalty kick by Captain Jack. The Timbers work hard with some help from the goal posts and finally win their first road game of the year. Portland 1-0 over Chicago.
Again Portland came out in the 4-5-1 with the only changes being Jeremy Hall at right back and Kevin Goldthwaite in for the suspended Eric Brunner. Portland looked to come out strong in the first few minutes of the game and it showed as they won some free kicks 45 yards out. Unfortunately, the service on the free kicks were not up to the usual quality from Captain Jack Jewsbury.
However the pressure put on the Chicago Fire by the Timbers when they did lose the ball was much improved in the first 10 minutes of the game. The biggest story of the first 10 minutes was an injury to Goldthwaite who looked like he injured his left knee which brought in David Horst in the 9th minute.
After the injury any momentum Portland had built up in the first 8 minutes of the game was quickly thrown out as they looked out of sync. Chicago on the other hand looked like they gained confidence and continually put Portland under pressure. However soccer is a game where you can score against the run of play and Portland almost proved that in the 16th minute when Jorge Perlaza took on two players but lost the ball, which luckily ended up at the feet of a streaking Diego Chara who had a one on one with Chicago's Sean Johnson. Chara could not get it past Johnson, however.
Again Portland challenge Johnson after great individual play Kalif Alhassan to find a streaking Captain Jack down the wing. Captain Jack hit a dangerous ball to the near post that Johnson had to parry away before an oncoming Perlaza. Again Portland was attacking and Chara tried to hit a long shot from 25 yards out which deflected to an open Perlaza who was taken down by a defender in the box. The referee called the foul and pointed to the penalty spot. Captain Jack stepped up to take the penalty and calmly hit the ball into the back of the net for Portland in the 23rd minute.
One of my coaches growing up told my team that the most dangerous time after school is the first 2 minutes because you are mentally less focused because a big emotional high. Portland almost proved that to be true in the 26th minute, however the long shot from the Fire was not a challenge for Troy Perkins.
Around the 30th minute a series of no-calls created a little bit of a chippy aspect to the game. Captain Jack made a great tackle which looked like a hard but fair tackle. With the ball won the Timbers looked to spring Kalif Alhassan who looked like was fouled on the other end of the field but again the Ref kept his whistle silent.
Portland almost got punished for another defensive lapse as Horst tried for a sliding tackle but missed which brought on a 2v1 which turned into a 2 v 2 because of great hustle from Chara. The cross from the 2v2 luckily fell to Rodney Wallace who stuck a foot out and deflected it, which Perkins was able to scoop up. However the pressure kept mounting and Perkins had to come up big again. Perkins made a great diving save on a long range shot from Marco Pappa which was on frame.
For the last 5 minutes of the game Portland sat back and seemed to invite the pressure while trying to hold onto the lead. Which to be honest is probably the worst thing that Portland could be doing to hold onto the lead and they almost got punished on a corner kick as Cory Gibbs got free and hit a beautiful header that luckily hit the post and bounced out to a Portland player to clear.
Instead of sitting back Portland needs to win the ball and try and hold possession in stead of hitting it forward to a non-target forward and hope to get forward. Thankfully Portland did survive the final 2 minutes of stoppage time without giving up the equalizer and went into the locker room up 1 for the first time on the road.
Portland again came out looking for a goal and pressed for the first few minutes of the half. However Chicago weathered the storm and picked their game up and tried to get the equalizer and looked the more dangerous team as they continually had chance after chance but couldn't find that final ball that would give them a true goal scoring chance.
Again Portland almost got a goal against the run of play as Darlington Nagbe hit a beautiful through ball to Perlaza who struck his shot just wide of the goal in the 54th minute. After that shot Portland really gained confidence and started to gain momentum in the attack. Even with the greater confidence Portland was unable to find that final ball for a true goal scoring chance.
For the next 10 minutes Portland and Chicago played mostly in the middle third of the game until Portland had a chance around 30 yards out. Jewsbury found himself in a forward position and hit a great ball to Perlaza who tried to give it back but Jewsbury had been taken out of the play by Yamith Cuesta. Who was already carrying a yellow card for descent and this foul earned him another one. Portland gets a man advantage for the last 25 minutes of the game.
Sometimes going down a man actually makes a team more dangerous and Chicago looked like they found another gear. Portland however looked like they were overwhelmed and they were lucky to have another shot go off the bar and out instead of in the goal around the 68th minute.
However Sal Zizzo came on the field and looked to attack and actually hit a great shot that Johnson had to parry away from the goal. Again Zizzo got behind the back line and hit a great ball towards Kenny Cooper but unfortunately the ball was just not hard enough and a defender was able to step in a clear the ball away.
Even with all the great attacking that Portland showed from the 70th minute to the 80th minute Chicago still had their chances and in the 78 minute Perkins snagged a cross off of the foot of a Chicago player to snuff out a goal scoring opportunity.
The last 10 minutes of the game was setting up to be either a well earned win or another disappointing draw. Chicago continually threw numbers forward and Portland tried to counter for the killing strike. However Chicago looked the more dangerous team down the stretch but Portland continued to weather the storm.
By the 89th minute rolled around Chicago was putting all in and trying to get the equalizer. In the 89th minute Portland looked like they gave up the equalizer. However Perkins thought otherwise as he made two Save of the Week canidates. After that Portland was able to gather the ball and kept possession for almost 3 minutes which killed the game. Portland WINS!!!! This game can be the stepping stone for the team to start moving in the other direction.
I can only imagine the relief and confidence the team feels after this win.
- Perkins was the MAN! He will win back to back Saves of the Week. He is exactly what the Timbers need and makes the saves to keep Portland in the game.
- Jewsbury has now scored more goals this season than any other season of his career, talk about a steal for allocation money. He is also 1 away from his highest assist total.
- Cooper really helped kill this game off. He knows how to kill games and it worked this game.
- Hall is suspended for the next game because of Yellow Card accumulation
- Chara is a great signing and will be great for years to come.