The Portland Timbers will not be advancing in the CONCACAF Champions League after failing to beat visiting CD Saprissa in the final match of the CCL group stage, drawing 1-1 on the night.
Things got off to a rocky start for the Timbers in the first minute of play as the home side had a pair of penalty shouts declined by referee Bernardo Barriga. First Jack McInerney got on the ball inside the Saprissa box and managed to get off a quick shot, only to have it blocked down by the outstretched arm of a Saprissa defender. As the referee waved off the call, the ball found its way to Jack Barmby, again in the box, only for the Timbers’ winger to be taken down by an errant tackle. Barriga again waved off the call, motioning for Barmby to get up.
With the Timbers pressing forward and in need of a win, Saprissa were on the lookout for the break and, after several chances, they were able to break the Timbers down conclusively in the 24th minute. Getting the ball down the Timbers’ left, Hansell Aruaz was able to send a curling cross into the box, perfectly finding the head of Rolando Blackburn. Blackburn made no mistake with the golden chance, thumping home his header with authority to give Saprissa the 1-0 lead.
Now up a goal, Saprissa were able to retreat into their shell, keeping ten players behind the ball at all times and making life difficult for the Timbers. With their opponents ceding possession, the Timbers were able to get on the ball for long periods of time, only to see things go south as they tried to probe at the packed-in Saprissa defense.
The Timbers would fight back in the second half, getting on the board in the 57th minute. After keeping Saprissa under sustained pressure to start the half, Jack Barmby lined up a corner kick from out on the left. Sending in a curling ball to the back post, Barmby found the run of Jack McInerney, who hit a perfectly placed header just inside the far post to even things up.
Now back on even pegging, the Timbers pushed down the pitch, looking for the go ahead, but found themselves unable to break down the solid Saprissa back line. Although there were half-chances to be had, the Timbers could not manage to get the goal they so sorely needed and the game ended in a 1-1 draw, dashing the Timbers CONCACAF hopes.