The Portland Timbers played half a game of soccer today, winning the second 45’ of their match against Minnesota United by a score of 2-0.
Of course, soccer games have two halves and the Timbers were embarrassed in the first, going down 3-0 before being given a temporary reprieve at halftime. The 3-2 loss is the Timbers’ sixth in the ten games since their unbeaten run was snapped; a period during which the side have given up twenty goals.
Although the Timbers came out of the gates strong, threatening in the opening moments of the match, the home side quickly turned the table on them and quickly established what kind of game it would be with chance after chance coming on the break.
Darwin Quintero, the Loons’ talismanic midfielder, put the Timbers to the sword throughout the first half and was the driving force behind the opening Minnesota goal. In the 18th minute, Quintero picked up the ball on a pass over the top and, with Steve Clark rushing out at him, played a simple, square ball for the run of Romario who finished off the move and gave United the 1-0 lead.
The home side struck again in the 36th minute, capitalizing on a poor pass from Andy Polo in the Timbers half. Again it was Quintero playing in Romario, this time finding his run with a diagonal through ball before Romario placed a side-footed shot around the dive of Clark to extend the United lead to 2-0.
The Loons finished off their rampant first half in the 43rd minute, when midfielder Rasmus Schuller chested down the ball in the Timbers box off a corner kick, knocking it into the path of center back Michael Boxall for a powerful volleyed shot that gave Clark no chance to react before it rippled the back of the net.
The Timbers did fight back in the second half, given new structure by the introduction of Diego Chara, who was left out of the XI to start the night.
The Timbers pulled their first goal back in the 56th minute off a corner kick. After the ball was served into the box the Loons were the first to it, heading the ball away. The ball was cleared only as far as Alvas Powell, who collected it before unleashing a driven ball through traffic that flew through the box, past Bobby Shuttlesworth, and into the back of the net.
Now down 3-1, the Timbers redoubled their efforts and grabbed a second goal in the 79th minute. Another substitute, Diego Valeri, played the ball toward the end line for an overlapping run from Jorge Villafana. Cutting a pass back into the box, Villafana found Sebastian Blanco lurking in space and the diminutive Argentine was able to fire off a low show that Shuttlesworth was unable to put a hand to.
It looked like the Timbers might have found the equalizer in the 89th minute when a curled ball into the box from Villafana was controlled by Polo. The Peruvian winger chested the ball down before stabbing a shot toward goal only for Shuttlesworth to make the reaction save, knocking the ball away and holding on to all three points for the Loons.
Finally, in the 90th minute of regulation, the Timbers went up a man when new Minnesota signing threw up an elbow and connected squarely with the neck of Valeri, earning a decisive red card from referee David Gantar. The sending off would not affect the rest of the match, however, as the home side were able to grind out the final minutes of the match.