The Portland Timbers really wanted to give the TA something to cheer about and put up 15 Shots with 6 of them on target. The Columbus Crew had other ideas and they put in a decent first half but faded and played for the tie in the second half. A tie was what they got as Portland was unable to find the back of the net, 0-0 final.
John Spencer trotted out the best attacking line-up so far this season and it showed through out the game why it was the best. Once Portland gained possession of the ball the transition to attack was amazingly quick. In the first 37 seconds Portland was already attacking down the left side of the pitch and Franck Songo'o, from his right midfield position, was playing off of our left mid Rodney Wallace.
Attacking down the left seemed to be the theme of the night and Portland seemed to be looking for the early goal and almost got it in the 11th minute. Troy Perkins hit a great ball to Kris Boyd, who flicked the ball on towards Nagbe. Nagbe was in the right place when the Columbus defender whiffed on the clearance.
However right when Nagbe was about to hit the ball past Andy Gruenebaum the same Columbus defender, Eric Gehrig, redeemed himself and got a foot in front of the shot. The ball then got stuck under Nagbe and he got up quickly to play the ball to the keeper's left with three defenders draped all of over him. With all the scrambling going on Nagbe was knocked to the ground but no penalty was given and Columbus cleared the ball away.
For the next 9 minutes it was end to end soccer with each team gathering the ball and trying to get into their offense as fast as they could. With the quick transitions Portland was able to create their best chance of the half in the 20th minute when Nagbe gathered the ball after a clearance found him near the midfield line.
Nagbe gathered the ball and turned up field and started attacking the backline and then laid the ball off to Diego Chara. Chara hit the ball wide to Wallace and he looked up and took a few touches before he decided "what the heck, I will have a go" and hit the ball from 25 yards out. The ball was perfectly hit and if Gruenebaum had not made an amazing save with his fingertips Portland would have been up 1.
Six minutes later Columbus had one of their best opportunities to score as Mike Chabala deflected a pass into the middle of the field and Columbus continued that movement to find a wide open player on the wing and he then hit a great cross into the box and it fell to Milovan Mirosevic right in front of Troy Perkins who was wearing the "Hello Clarice" mask. With Futty Danso and Hanyer Mosquera breathing down Mirosevic's neck and Perkins coming out strong he, thankfully, was only able an off balance shot off.
Even with the lack of power the ball was still bouncing towards an open goal and would have gone in if not for Chewy tracking back and hitting the ball high into the air but still towards the goal. Captain Jack was also tracking back and had only inches before the ball was going to go into the net and he jumped and headed the ball over the bar and out for a corner.
The ensuing corner created another chance for Columbus. The ball was hit well towards the penalty spot and deflected to the far post where Futty's man had drifted wide. Josh Williams calmly collected the ball and hit a low hard shot past Troy Perkins, who could only glance behind him as the ball was headed into the goal. Diego Chara was doing his job and was in the perfect position to clear the ball off of the line and the second shot from the Crew went wide.
The rest of the half was pretty mundane after those two heart stopping moments and both teams entered the locker room thinking they had their chances and more were likely to come in the second half.
From the restart Portland really came out strong and applied high pressure on Columbus and it almost paid dividends seconds into the second half. Wallace easily dispossessed Sebastian Miranda and found Boyd and he in turn found a central Nagbe. Nagbe took a touch to the left and saw all the Crew defenders backing off of him and decided to take a shot from 25 yards out. No Golazo this time for Nagbe as the shot was wide left.
Nagbe's shot was only the beginning as Portland seemed to gather momentum like a boulder rolling down hill. Just over three minutes later Futty found himself on the end of a Songo'o cross but was only able to nod it down and straight at the keeper.
In the 50th minute tempers flared as Lovel Palmer and Emilio Renteria came together going after a 50/50 ball. A foul was called on Palmer but Palmer attempted to show the ref the two stud marks on his chest as to why the foul should have gone the other way(I saw the marks after the game when Palmer showed them to me and I can't say I disagree with his assessment of the Ref....). Some of the Crew players gathered round and words were said and Palmer took exception to something and shoved one of them away.
Cooler heads, one of them being Scottish, prevailed and the match restarted after the brief shoving match. Even with the brief brew-ha-ha Portland was still controlling the game and seemed destined to score. They almost did in the 51st minute. Once again Wallace found himself on the receiving end of a great pass, this time from Diego Chara. Wallace was at the top of the box when he received the ball and from there he hit a shot through the legs of the defender but this time it was right at Gruenebaum who easily made the save.
Columbus almost stole the game in the 66th minute if not for some heroics from Perkins. Columbus earned a corner and played it short to get a different angle on the cross. The subsequent cross found Josh Williams on the back post who hit the header on frame and it was going in but all of a sudden two gloved hands come out of no where to push the ball over the bar and out. Save of the week honors are definitely a possibility for Perkins.
Portland may have seemed like they were going to score from that save on but time and time again Gruenebaum came up with the save or Portland's final ball was lacking quality. It just was not Portland's night as they could not find the back of the net. The good thing though was in the last 15 minutes of the game Portland looked the stronger team rather than looking like the team that was fading.
- Can we stop with the fancy set-piece crap and just hit the ball into the box? Seriously stop wasting those chances!
- Perkins was fearless out there tonight and really had his best game this year.
- Songo'o and Jewsbury together were a good balance but Songo'o left Jewsbury all by himself too often
- Boyd needed to put one of his chances away but the rest of the Timbers need to hit better final balls to get him better chances.
- The TA seemed flat because of all the Beastie Boys tributes, one is fine but 4 or 5 of them? As Mike Donovan put it "They must really want a "Beastie Boy Goal"
- The ref was so inconsistent it was sickening, luckily it did not cost either team the game.
- 3 shots in the first half for the Timbers, 12 in the second. I will let you guess which half the Timbers were going towards the North End.
- Can we end the Wallace is a defender debate and just call him a midfielder from now on?