The Portland Timbers left it to the last minute tonight to score the equalizing goal against the Philadelphia Union in a match where the Timbers controlled the possession but little else. After giving up a goal off of a corner kick midway through the second half, the Timbers finally pulled the game level at 1-1 in the final minute of stoppage time thanks to an opportunistic goal from the team's new striker, Gaston Fernandez.
The first half of the match saw both sides playing a high pressure game that clogged up the midfield and made it difficult for either team to build up an effective attack. Gradually the Timbers began to assert themselves on the match, taking control of the possession and prompting the Union to drop back into a more defensive, counter-attacking style that only further gummed up the Timbers' attack.
The best chance of the half for the Timbers came on an earlyt corner kick that was swung out to the far post in the 4'. Pa Modou Kah, who was forced out of the match with an injury in the 34', was unmarked and ready to put the ball away, but his free header glanced off the post in front of him and was cleared away by the scrambling Philadelphia defense.
Despite controlling almost 60% of the possession by the end of the first half, the Timbers could not find a shot on goal, instead forcing five shots that were blocked by Union defenders and three that went out of play. The Union forced the half's only save in the 20' when Maidana drove a low, hard shot on goal from inside the box, prompting Ricketts to lay out to his left to keep the ball out of the net. The follow up attempt from the Union was only a hair's width over the bar, but Ricketts was already upright and jumping to cover the shot.
In the second half of the match, the Timbers continued their control over the game's possession, but were again unable to turn that into shots on goal, only forcing one save from MacMath before their eventual stoppage time equalizer.
The Timbers' weakness on free kicks came back to bite them again in the 64' when the Union broke the deadlock on a corner kick. A curling corner swung into the box came right to the head of Maurice Edu who flicked a header on to Jack McInerney. With only a fraction of a second to react, McInerney's nose for goal did not fail him as he snapped the ball past a helpless Donovan Ricketts and into the net.
From there the Timbers looked flummoxed by the intense pressure from Philadelphia, struggling to break out of their own end as the final minutes of the match ticked away.
With 3' of stoppage time in the second half the Timbers continued gamely trying to push forward. In the match's final minute, the Timbers found themselves with a corner kick earned thanks to a deflected Steve Zakuani shot. Will Johnson hustled to the flag to swing in a corner right away, catching the Union defenders unawares as they tried to organize themselves. Johnson's corner dropped into the box, glancing off the head of Union captain Brian Carroll and falling to a wide open Fernandez, who fired the ball home and tied the game.
With the Timbers Army celebrating in front of them, the Timbers barely had a second to breathe before the Union were restarting play at the center spot. It was too late for a game winner, however, as the referee blew the whistle for full time moments later.