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Portland Timbers Pull Out 3-3 Draw Against Columbus Crew Despite Everything

The Timbers played a man down but still managed a hard fought draw against the visiting Crew.

Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Timbers had everything go against them once again but still managed a 3-3 draw against a Columbus Crew side determined to come away from Providence Park with all three points. After grabbing an early lead, the Timbers were forced to fight back from behind twice, throwing everything at the Crew in a bid for some desperately needed points.

The Timbers started out strong, pushing forward early on and grabbing a goal in the 5' to open the scoring. High pressure from the Timbers saw the Crew cough up the ball in their final third, where ti eventually ended up at the feet of Steve Zakuani. The Timbers' speedster tooke a step into the Crew box and poked the ball ahead to Maximiliano Urruti. Urruti, looking barely in control, turned on the ball, splitting two defenders and putting himself in on goal in one surprising motion. With Crew keeper Steve Clark lunging toward him, Urruti struck the ball well, burying it in the back of the net to make the score 1-0.

After the goal, the Timbers seemed to drop some of their early intensity and, in the 14', the Crew made them pay with a brilliant piece of skill from Federico Higuain. Alone in the center of the pitch, Higuain noticed Donovan Ricketts a step off his line and played a beautifully weighted chip that caressed the underside of the crossbar on its way over Ricketts and into the back of the net.

With the score suddenly even again, the Timbers seemed to remember that they were in fighting for their lives in MLS. Unfortunately, the level of intensity in the match proved too much for the over-exuberant Alvas Powell. While trying to win back possession of the ball, Powell charged down Crew defender Chad Barson who was holding the ball in the Columbus half. Barson managed to get rid of the ball moments before Powell arrived, putting in a late challenge that sent Barson head over heels in the air. The referee, Jose Carlos Rivero, immediate went to his back pocket for a red card, sending off Powell and leaving the Timbers down a man for the rest of the evening.

The Crew were quick to attempt to capitalize on their newfound man advantage and pressed forward with a renewed vigor. In first half stoppage time that pressure paid off. A chipped in ball to the Timbers' box found the head of Giancarlo Gonzalez, but his play on the ball was fouled by a two handed grab from the late-arriving Futty Danso. This time the referee took his time, blowing the whistle only as the Timbers began to break out down the pitch. It was once again Higuain who would make the Timbers pay on the ensuing penalty kick. Higuain seemed to freeze Donovan Ricketts in place as he ran up to the ball and calmly rolled the ball into the corner of the net to make the score 2-1, seconds before Rivero whistled the end of the first half.

Despite being down a goal and down a man, the Timbers came out in the second half with their spirits lifted. Instead of a team with supirior numbers pressing their advantage, the game became a free-flowing back and forth with both teams pushing men forward.

There were close chances on both sides, but in the 80' the Timbers finally struck. For the second time in the match it was the Timbers' high line of pressure paying dividends. After working the ball down the field and into the Columbus box, it looked like Jack Jewsbury had given up possession of the ball. The club captain was not out of the fight yet, however, as he stuck out a leg and poked the ball away from the Crew defender. Jewsbury's touch was enough as the ball rolled to Will Johnson in the center of the box where he first-timed the ball past Clark and into the back of the net to pull the Timbers even once again.

The Timbers were still celebrating when, one minute later in the 81', the Crew steamed back down the field and grabbed the lead once again. With the Timbers scrambling to contain the sudden Crew attack, Ethan Finlay fired a shot at the far post from the top of the box. Ricketts leapt into action, diving across the goal, only to have the ball carom off of Futty Danso and tuck just inside the near post.

Undeterred, the Timbers continued throwing themselves forward in hopes of grabbing one final equalizer. In the 85', moments after the introduction of Fanendo Adi, the Timbers' new forward signing, the team managed to level the game up again. Out on the right wing, Diego Valeri sent a long ball into the Crew box. From out of the scrum in the box, Adi rose up to head the ball down, putting it toward the back post where Gaston Fernandez ran onto it, tapping it home for the final goal of the match.