The Portland Timbers remain unbeaten in their last thirteen league matches after coming from behind twice to draw the Montreal Impact 2-2. Despite being carved up by the Impact’s quick breaks down the pitch in the first half, the Timbers were able to capitalize on a pair of gaffs from Montreal keeper Evan Bush to secure the point.
In a match between two sides known for their prowess on the counter, it was the Impact who had the first chance to put their opponents on the back foot. In the 7th minute, the visitors turned the Timbers over and got the ball swiftly down the pitch, finding Ignacio Piatti out wide on the left flank. Picking his head up, Piatti hit a long cross field switch that picked out the run of Matteo Mancosu. The Italian forward dropped the ball back to the top of the Timbers’ box for a late arriving run from midfielder Shamit Shome who shot from distance but put his chance well over the bar.
The early Impact chance was a rarity and neither side would see much in the way of scoring opportunities until the 23rd minute when the Impact opened the scoring. With the Timbers committed up the pitch, Montreal forward Alejandro Silva carried the ball forward, fighting his way past Julio Cascante and Lawrence Olum before cutting a square ball toward the middle of the pitch. Silva’s pass found the run of Saphir Taider who, surrounded by retreating defenders, had just enough time to pick out the corner of the net with his shot and give the Impact a 1-0 lead.
Shaken awake by the Montreal goal, the Timbers were nearly able to answer three minutes later in the 26th minute when the side found Samuel Armenteros out wide on the flank. Armenteros carried the ball forward before sending a curling ball toward the back post. Sandwiched by defenders, it was Diego Valeri who rose up to meet the ball. The Maestro was able to put a strong head on the ball, but could not steer it on goal.
The Timbers found their opening goal in the 38th minute. After an Alvas Powell cross was headed away by a Montreal defender, Cristhian Paredes attempted to hit a side-volley shot back toward goal, only for the ball to go spinning off his boot and up into the air. Impact keeper Evan Bush came for the ball and looked likely to collect it, only to spill it directly in front of Armenteros as it spun out of his hands. With the ball bouncing in front of him, Armenteros tried a side-volley of his own, making contact and placing the ball into the back for the net to even up the score at 1-1.
The even scoreline would not last long, however, as the Impact pulled back into the lead immediately after the restart. A long ball from Piatti over the top of the Timbers back line dropped perfectly for the of Mancosu, who split Cascante and Zarek Valentin to go in on goal. Dribbling in on goal as the Timbers’ back line spun around behind him, Mancosu had time and space to pick out the corner of the net and give the Impact a 2-1 lead.
Coming out of the break, the Timbers seemed to take control of the match, keeping the Impact pinned back for long stretches. As the Timbers probed the Montreal back line for long stretches with attempts to break them down, the best chances still came on the break.
Finally, in the 65th minute the Timbers were able to find their second goal to once again pull even with the visitors. A strong cross into the Montreal box from Blanco forced a parry up into the air from Bush. As the ball dropped inside the six yard box, both Bush and Valeri went up for it, but the Montreal keeper could not get up and over the Maestro and Valeri was able to nod the forward into the goal.
As the goal was ruled good by referee Fotis Bazakos, Montreal head coach Remi Garde protested too vigorously and was given his marching orders before play resumed.
Now even and with the momentum firmly behind them, the Timbers pressed forward in search of their first lead of the evening and in the 73rd minute they came close. Breaking down the flank, Armenteros spun away from an Impact defender, sending a square ball to Lawrence Olum at the top of the box. As a pair of Montreal defenders closed him down, Olum touched the ball onward to Blanco, cutting in from the right. Blanco took a touch and fired off a hard shot only for his attempt to swerve wide of the near post.
In the 78th minute Powell came even closer. Taking the ball down out wide on the flank, Powell measured his shot and hit the ball on the volley, sending a curling shot in on goal and forcing Bush into a full-stretch dive to push the ball wide.
The Timbers would continue to push for the winner, despite the danger of the Montreal counter attack. Another goal was not on offer, however, and the final whistle blew with the sides knotted at 2-2.
The Timbers’ next match is at home next Saturday, July 28th, when they will take on the Houston Dynamo.