The Portland Timbers have had their unbeaten run broken at fourteen games after losing 3-2 to Los Angeles FC in Wednesday night’s U.S. Open Cup match. In a game characterized by defensive miscues and a confusing at best stream provided by the hosts, the Timbers came close to fighting their way back into the match after going two goals down but ultimately could not get the bounces to go their way.
As they did on Sunday, the Timbers were content to let LAFC press forward. The home side dominated possession, but were unable to connect on their attempts to break into the Timbers box.
Then, in the 18th minute, the Timbers broke out and managed the first shots on goal of the match. Running down the pitch, Sebastian Blanco played a ball into the path of Dairon Asprilla’s run across the top of the box. Taking a touch around a group of colliding LAFC defender, Asprilla hit a shot toward goal that Los Angeles keeper Tyler Miller parried away and back into Asprilla’s path. With the ball bouncing back to him, Asprilla lined up a volley and struck only for Miller to stick a hand out and knock the strong shot wide.
The home side came close with a chance of their own in the 23rd minute when they caught the Timbers on a rare push forward and were able to break down the pitch themselves and found Latif Blessing on the run down the flank. The LAFC winger cut inside and looked to pick out the far corner of the net, but could not beat Jeff Attinella, who touched the ball up and over the bar.
LAFC would get their break through in the 33rd minute as they worked the ball around the Timbers box after a short free kick. Although the Timbers held their shape and looked primed to keep the home side at bay, a cross from Carlos Vela into the box would be their undoing. Jocking with Marcos Urena for position, David Guzman jumped for the cross and, in his first start for the Timbers since March 10th, headed the ball past Attinella for an own goal.
Five minutes later LAFC struck again. After Attinella came up big with a point blank save on Jordan Harvey with the ball free in the Timbers box, Vytas Andriuškevičius tried to clear the rebound, only for Walker Zimmerman to knock down his clearance into the path of Carlos Vela at the top of the box. Taking a touch inside onto his preferred left foot, Vela hit a side-footed shot that skipped toward goal, beating Attinella and extending the LAFC lead to two.
Although things seemed dire, the Timbers were able to pull one back just moments before the half when Diego Chara was taken down in the attacking half, giving the Timbers a long-range free kick. Guzman stepped up to the dead ball and served a perfectly paced ball into the Los Angeles box, finding the run of center back Julio Cascante who nodded the ball forward past Miller to improve the scoreline to 2-1.
Early in the second half, LAFC struck for their third as again the ball got loose around the Timbers box. After a bouncing ball found the feet of Harvey at the edge of the Timbers box, the LAFC full back struck a toward goal that looked like it might go wide of the post only for its path to intersect with Urena. Without a goal for LAFC to date, all Urena had to do was turn the ball toward goal to open his book and give the home side a 3-1 lead.
Again, however, the Timbers pulled one back, this time taking only one minute to answer. In the 52nd minute, Asprilla got on the ball in the LAFC box, twisting and turning away from the defenders buzzing around him before clipping a low cross through the box and into the path of a late run from Vytas. Striking the ball with his first touch, Vytas’s shot was hard and low and left Miller with no chance at a save, bring the Timbers back within one at 3-2.
As the match wore on, neither team could find much in the way of chances, although LAFC had a pair of good chances that ended up in the back of the net whistled offside by the slimmest of margins.
The Timbers finally had a chance to even things up in the 89th minute when Cristhian Paredes played a curling cross to the LAFC back post where Diego Valeri was lurking. Valeri snapped a header down off the ground and toward goal, but Miller was there to make the stop, grabbing the ball and holding tight.
With the final minutes ticking down LAFC had a last chance of their own as Laurent Ciman fired a hard shot on goal from a free kick but Attinella was equal to it, diving to push the ball away from goal.
The Timbers are back in action on Saturday when they host Eastern Conference side Montreal Impact at Providence Park.