The Portland Timbers put in an organized performance in today’s 1-1 draw at FC Dallas, bringing home their first point of the 2018 MLS season despite going a man down late in the match thanks to a brilliant strike from Sebastian Blanco.
Giovanni Saravese made significant changes to his starting lineup after two long weeks off for the Timbers, changing five of their eleven starters from the disastrous 4-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls in their last run out. Most notably, Bill Tuiloma got the start in place of team captain Liam Ridgewell at center back alongside Larrys Mabiala, with the armband going to Diego Valeri.
The first big chance of the match came for the Timbers in the 16th minute when an interception deep in the Dallas end saw Sebastian Blanco carry the ball into the box and rip a pass across the face of goal. Valeri was on the spot with an open net in front of him, but he was just a moment too late to get a boot on the ball.
Just moments later Dallas had a shout for a penalty denied as Mauro Diaz flicked the ball up into the air in the Timbers’ box only to see it deflect off the arm of Cristhian Paredes. As the Timbers cleared the ball away, Diaz appealed for the penalty, but Paredes had his arm tucked in to his body and referee Mark Geiger waved play on.
Dallas would open the scoring after a long period of back and forth play in the first half. In the 36th minute, Dallas won the ball in the Timbers half after a sloppy throw in from the visitors. Dallas homegrown player Jacori Hayes dribbled around a swarm of defenders before deftly touching the ball to winger Roland Lamah at the top of the box. The Belgian stepped up and hit a hard shot along the ground that sliced through the crowd of players in front of the net and picked out the corner of the goal to give Dallas a 1-0 lead.
After seeing out the remainder of the first half, the Timbers were quick to strike after play resumed in the second. In the 47th minute, the Timbers broke quickly down the pitch, finding Fanendo Adi at the top of the box where the target man flipped the ball outside to Blanco. Carrying the ball into the box, Blanco hit a curling shot with his left foot, dropping it over Dallas keeper Jimmy Maurer and pulling the Timbers even at one apiece.
Former Timbers striker Maximilliano Urruti had a pair of chances to put Dallas back in front in the 59th minute, first seeing his shot from inside the box pushed wide by Gleeson, then having his volleyed shot on the ensuing corner headed up and over the bar.
Dallas kept the pressure on and in the 65th minute Carlos Gruezo came close as well. After a Dallas corner kick was knocked out to the top of the box, Gruezo collected the ball and cracked a powerful shot forward that went just wide of goal.
The Timbers reeled themselves back into the game and looked to have a prime chance to make something happen in the 77th minute as Diego Valeri served a curling free kick into the box. Lawrence Olum was the closest to the ball as it dropped to Maurer at the spot and the Timbers midfielder tried to knock the ball past the Dallas keeper using his hand, picking up an easy yellow from Geiger. The card was Olum’s second of the match and he was quickly sent off, leaving the Timbers to finish out the match down a man.
Dallas almost made the most of their man advantage in the 85th minute when a cross into the Timbers box saw both teams scrambling to put a boot on the ball. The ball bounced toward goal, eluding Gleeson, only for Zarek Valentin to clear off the line.
Dallas continued to push for the game winner but it would not come, leaving the match tied at 1-1 by the final whistle.
The Timbers continue their season opening road trip next Saturday when they travel east to take on the 0-2-0 Chicago Fire.