I am so frustrated with the results but I know it may not seem like it the Timbers are slowly improving with every game.
Opening whistle - 15': From the opening whistle Real Salt Lake looked like they knew if they got the early goal they would coast to the win just like every other time the Portland Timbers visited Rio Tinto. It almost paid off as the Timbers looked like they were caught off guard and on their back foot. After weathering the initial storm the Timbers looked like they were settling in but they weren't settling in. They continued to be under pressure and that pressure lead to errant passes and sometimes those passes went right to RSL players.
15' to 30': After the initial pressure by RSL, Portland finally started to find a rhythm after 15 nerve racking minutes. When they did settle into possession Portland was able to find the spaces in RSL's diamond formation but the final ball was lacking and it appeared it was going to take an individual effort from Portland to unlock an usually stout defense. Darlington Nagbe almost provided that moment of brilliance but Nick Rimando made an equally brilliant save.
30' to Halftime: Once Portland settled in and the game was a even with each team gaining possession at times. Yet, as the half time whistle approached RSL seemed to gain confidence while Portland lost energy and their urgency. This lead to some hairy final moments as Portland gave up two free kicks near their box and a couple of dangerous chances. Portland was able to hang on for the 0-0 time going into halftime.
Restart-65': The beginning of the second was evenly matched and both teams spent most of the time between the boxes. Neither team showed lot creativity nor were they able to create a dangerous chance. Around the 65th minute mark you could see both teams started to loose their legs and the game was turning into who could fight off the attrition.
65'-Final whistle: RSL was the team able to find some reserves and bury their chance in the 78th minute of the game and it came against a very tired Portland midfield. While the goal seemed to deflate the Timbers it did so only briefly and the tired legs found new life. This combined with the fresh legs of Alvas Powell and Michael Nanchoff almost nab at least one point for Portland but once again Rimando came up big.
- Best game for the two pivots in the midfield all year. Portland has been missing those long switches and when they are getting them they are much more dangerous because it forces the defense to rotate. Rotation always exposes gaps in the defense.
- I miss Rodney Wallace.
- I respectfully hate Rimando. Someone in Scandinavia should sign him.
- This is the team we have until the summer transfer window so all of those pinning for a new striker/defender will just have to suck it up and deal. Unless of course the team trades for someone or signs an out of contract individual.
- I am not counting this team out just yet but they need an amazing next 5 games....