It was immediately apparent from the initial whistle that the New England Revolution were playing for the draw with the hopes of performing a smash and grab. The Portland Timbers, on the other hand, wanted to break the game wide open and force the Revs to open up. Unfortunately for Timbers fans, the Revs maintained homeostasis and left town with a point.
From the opening whistle the Revs needed to bunker and park the proverbial bus. The Revs sat deep and congested the center of the park to force Portland to play down the wings and cross the ball in the early moments of the game.
When Portland was finally able to break down the defense of New England, the execution was just not there. It was as if there was a negative feedback in place, and it all started with Darlington Nagbe's 1v1 with the keeper. Nagbe was played behind the defense about 45 yards out from goal and had a step on the defenders. He had a perfect run and pass to get him behind the defense. But when he got near the 18-yard box, his shot left a lot to be desired -- it went right at Bobby Shuttlesworth, making for an easy save. The ball did bounce right off of Shuttlesworth and pin-balled off the of the defender who was trying to close on Nagbe, but that too went wide of the goal.
Once that miss occurred Portland's negative feedback loop started. The miss caused Portland to almost tighten up and become impatient in front of the goal. That impatience led to shots that either went off target or right at the keeper. The first half ended 0-0 with some hope that the Portland could finally break through in the second half.
The second half was almost a carbon copy of the first half. Portland had the lion's share of the possession with most of it occurring in the Revs' half, but the final ball into the box either didn't find an attacker or the shot was not on target. In the 60th minute the game changed. Mikael Silvestre, playing forward on a set piece, tried to play the ball back into the box with a bicycle kick. When he came down he landed awkwardly on his leg and had to be stretchered off the field.
With Andrew Jean Baptiste on to replace Silvestre, the Timbers committed numbers forward to get the elusive goal. New England was responded by subbing in two of their bigger, speedier strikers to play for the counter.
While Portland was hitting shots over, around, and at the keeper New England was punting the ball as far up the field as possible and catching Portland's defense with numbers. Usually Portland was able to stifle the counter and then they themselves were able to create the odd man rush.
After a scramble at both ends of the field, New England played Saer Sene behind the defense. His shot was low and hard to the right post, a place where most goalies have a hard time getting to. Donovan Ricketts may not have had a lot of work in the first 85 minutes of this game, but he stayed focused and came up big on the Sene's shot.
Rickett's is a tall man, so getting down and to the side like that is a very difficult thing to do. He made it look effortless as he extended to push the shot wide of the goal and secure the draw for Portland.
- Portland had 26 open play crosses and 9 corners. But not one of the resulting headers was on frame.
- From the get go New England was playing for the draw and they got their third 0-0 of the season -- all against teams that like to possess the ball (Seattle, Sporting KC and Portland)
- Down to 3 healthy CB's. Yikes!
- It was just one of those games when the ball did not find the back of the net. It happens.
- At least now Portland will be hungry to go out and beat FC Dallas.
- I am not sure what people are complaining about when it comes to Nagbe and shooting. 3 of his 5 shots were on goal. He had 1/3 of the Portland's total shots on goal. If it weren't for Will Johnson heading the ball instead of deferring to the perfectly positioned Jack Jewsbury, Nagbe might have had the game winning assist.