One week after a demoralizing and comprehensive loss to Los Angeles FC, the Portland Timbers posted another demoralizing and comprehensive loss; this time a 3-0 defeat at the hands of expansion side FC Cincinnati.
Things started off in an unfortunately familiar fashion when, in the 15th minute, Cincy opened the scoring off a free kick. After Cristhian Paredes took down Kekuta Manneh in the Timbers’ half, Leonardo Bertone stepped up and served in a perfectly placed free kick toward Jeff Atinella’s back post. The service dropped into the path of hulking center back Kendall Waston who leaned forward and powered a header back across the face of goal, skipping the ball off the turf and into the back of the net.
From there, the Timbers were able to find their place in the match, mustering several forays forward, but repeatedly getting foiled by a bad touch or a strange bounce on the obviously worn* Nippert Stadium turf.
*Update: apparently the turf was laid recently and was therefore too new to be a good playing surface.
As the second half of play wore on, however, the Timbers began looking more and more for the quick break down the pitch, ceding possession to the home side. It was after one such attempted Timbers break in the 61st minute that Cincy struck for their second goal of the night. After pinging the ball around the Timbers box, Cincinnati found Roland Lamah in space for a shot from distance. Lamah’s shot was blocked before it could trouble Attinella, but the deflection spun forward and fell to the feet of winger Allen Cruz. Facing away from goal, Cruz quickly hit a back-heeled shot that gave Attinella no time to react before it hit the back of the net.
Two minutes later. Cincinnati struck again. After another abortive Timbers attacking move, Cincy once again won the ball and pushed forward, this time finding Darren Mattocks in space outside the Timbers box. Mattocks played a looping cross into the box that curled behind the recovery runs of the Timbers’ back line before connecting with left back Mathieu Deplagne at the back post for the first-time tap-in goal to give the home side a 3-0 lead.
Then, for the second match in a row, the Timbers went down a man. In the 70th minute, Manneh broke forward, cutting around Dielna before being taken down by a collision with Larrys Mabiala. Already on a yellow card, Mabiala was show his second caution of the night and sent packing.
The Timbers have a bye next week before returning to action on March 31st when they will the LA Galaxy on the road. In the mean time, T2 will have their home opener on Saturday, March 23rd, and the Thorns will host the first game of their preseason tournament on Sunday the 24th. Both matches will be played at Merlo Field at the University of Portland.