The 2014 home schedule has been littered with a few rough first halves and tonight was just like most of those games. This time, instead of a stalled offense with a questionable defense it was just the questionable defense that showed up. The Portland Timbers had numerous opportunities to score in the first half but FC Dallas was resolute in their defending and forced Portland into shots from distance and crosses.
FC Dallas, on the other hand, used their speed and the counter to great effect as they continually attacked the two center backs. Fabian Castillo and Blas Perez did take some time before they were finally able to find what felt like the inevitable goal as Portland continually gifted them opportunities with lazy passes and turnovers. A nifty chip from Perez to Castillo was chested past a confused Rauwshan McKenzie and a screened Pa Modou Kah. His chest trap took him out wide of the goal and despite the tough angle he was able to hit the shot to the far post past Donovan Ricketts.
Portland wasn't out of the woods yet as they again gave up a goal, and this time on the counter after a very bad turnover in the middle of the field. Tesho Akindele streaked down the field with Diego Chara acting as our left back. Akindele pushed past Chara with speed and came up on the corner of the box. Chara's desperate challenge to win the ball forced Akindele out wide, which also forced Kah out wide to cover, but when he looked up in the box there were two FC Dallas players marked by McKenzie and he was able to pick our Perez for the easy shot to the far post for the second goal.
After the restart, Portland came out as they always due with some extra pep in their step and some adjustments. FC Dallas also made some adjustments, they climbed on the bus pulled in front of their goal, placed it in park and then pulled the emergency brakes. They also chocked the wheels for good measure. With 11 men behind the ball for most of the second half Portland was forced to the wide areas for their goals and at times they looked dangerous but their lack of height hurt them.
It wasn't until Fanendo Adi was judged to have been taken down in the box when the ball was played to his feet that Portland finally broke through the mass of legs for the goal. Portland's second came after a crazy sequence of events that started in the 87th minute. With Portland pushing forward there were times the ball was played away from pressure by Dallas and the few remaining defenders needed to step up and win the ball before Dallas could counter. It was on one of these clearances that Danny O'Rourke slid to win the ball and Moises Hernandez challenged him for it.The Referee saw Hernandez stomp on O'Rourke and he immediately went to the back pocket.
Five minutes later, Perez too went into the book after stomping on the stomach of Kah. The assistant referee was the one to spot this infraction and told the center to go for the back pocket. FC Dallas was now down two men with only two minutes to go. Portland threw everyone forward and left two men back, Chara and O'Rouke, and everyone joined the attack. The strategy worked after Portland won the ball off of a deep Dallas throw-in and dumped the ball into the box. The ball bounced around and then back out to Maximiliano Urruti, who then chipped the ball back towards the six yard box. His ball went right to a wide open Kah and he was able to control it and score the equalizer. The final whistle followed not too long after.