The Portland Timbers lost 2-0 to expansion side Orlando City SC today after an abysmal first half. A second half rally could not save the day as the Timbers were shut out for the third time this season.
After an initial burst of positive play the Timbers found themselves on the back foot for much of the first half as Orlando repeatedly opened them up with quick, incisive passes around the pitch. The run of play was decidedly with the visitors as they ran the Timbers ragged.
The Timbers eventually went down a goal midway through the first as Orlando broke quickly down the pitch in the 30'. Speedster Kevin Molino blew by Jorge Villafana on the Timbers' left flank, then fired a chest-level cross into the box. Unfortunately for the Timbers, rookie Cyle Larin was alone at the near post and chest-level was all he needed, redirecting the ball inside the near post with his upper body as Adam Kwarasey could only watch the ball ripple the back of the net.
The team finally fought their way into the match in the final minutes of the first half, throwing men forward with abandon but failing to break down the Orlando defense.
The second half saw the Timbers change things up, bringing on Jack Jewsbury to man the base of the Timbers' midfield and adapting a more possession driven style. The change paid dividends in possession, taking the Timbers from 49% in the first half to 58% in the second as they pushed for the tying goal and Orlando bunkered down.
The tying goal would not come, however. Instead it was Orlando who would tally again, breaking out as the Timbers pushed forward in the 83'. Running onto a long ball, forward substitute Carlos Rivas got a touch to a ball in the Timbers box before colliding with the sliding Kwarasey. Referee Kevin Stott wasted no time in blowing for the foul and pointing to the spot.
With one-time FIFA World Player of the Year Kaka stepping up to take the penalty, the result of the penalty kick seemed like a forgone conclusion, but Kwarasey was having none of it. Kaka hit the ball hard but close to Kwarasey and the Timbers' keeper went the correct direction, making the save. The crowd's rapturous cheers quickly turned to boos, however, as Stott again pointed to the spot, indicating that Diego Chara had encroached on the play.
Given a second chance, Kaka would not miss again, this time hammering the ball past Kwarasey and into the back of the net to give Orlando a two goal lead that would carry them through the remainder of the match.
The Timbers head on the road for their next match, taking on New York City FC on Sunday the 19th.