The Portland Timbers just can not score goals and, despite hitting the woodwork twice, the Timbers could not manage to find the back of the net as they drew the visiting Minnesota United 0-0 at Providence Park on Sunday afternoon.
The Timbers had their first chance of the match early on when, in the second minute, a long, cross-field switch from Sebastian Blanco found Jorge Moreira in space on the right flank. Moreira went by one defender and drove inside, before cutting the ball back onto his right boot and firing off a curling shot from just outside the box that flew narrowly over the bar.
Then, in the 8th minute, Blanco set up another chance for the Timbers. Driving inside from out on the left wing, Blanco faced down his defender and poked a pass forward just as he was dumped to the turf by an aggressive challenge. Blanco’s pass found Andy Polo facing away from goal, but the Peruvian midfielder was able to turn and squeeze off a shot, but the attempt did not have the power to trouble Minnesota keeper Vito Mannone, who dove to make the comfortable save.
The visitors managed a chance of their own in the 10th minute, when a push down the field found Darwin Quintero in space to send a diagonal ball to the back post where Mason Toye was lurking. The young United forward put a head to the ball, but could not put the chance on frame, instead sending it just over.
In the 17th minute the Timbers had a strong chance to open the scoring as Larrys Mabiala announced his return to the field following a long injury layoff by getting free in the box and putting his head to a Blanco corner kick. The header had plenty of power, but was put directly at Mannone, who made the straightforward save.
The Timbers put United in a bad spot in the 29th minute when a series of short passes put Blanco into space outside the Minnesota box. With time to step into the ball, Blanco powered a knuckling shot toward goal that forced Mannone to get his body in front of it and knock the ball down in the box. Mannone put plenty of force behind his save, however, and the rebound was pushed far enough away that the Timbers could not capitalize.
In the 36th minute a flowing, five pass move down the pitch put Brian Fernanadez in on goal for another strong Timbers chance. After working the ball quickly down the length of the pitch, the Timber found Zarek Valentin in space on the left flank for a touched on pass to Fernandez bursting into the box. Fernandez ran onto the ball with a narrow angle to goal and shot, but Mannone kept himself big and blocked the shot away.
Blanco came close with another chance from distance in the 41st minute. Collecting the ball in space outside the Minnesota box after a botched interception attempt, Blanco hit this shot with finesse, looking to pick out the far post, but sending the ball inches wide of the post instead.
He came even closer in first half stoppage time when, again in space on the right flank, Blanco took a touch inside and smacked a curling shot toward goal. This time Blanco’s shot cracked off the crossbar and caromed away from goal, leaving the Argentine shaking his head in disappointment.
Coming out of the locker room after the break the Loons looked to put their mark on the game and, after surrendering possession for much of the first half, Minnesota worked the ball through the attacking end and put several dangerous balls into the Timbers’ box, but could not connect for a chance on goal.
After fifteen minutes of the more evenly fought second half, the Loons came close with their best chance since the break. After Quintero was taken down in the corner of the Timbers’ end the Colombian playmaker served a free kick into the Timbers box that found the head of winger Robin Lod with a defender draped across his back and rang off the crossbar, bouncing away from goal.
In the 67th minute the Timbers hit down the field on the break and a looping ball from Blanco on one flank found Moreira on the other. Lifting up his head, Moreira saw Ebobisse making a run to the back post and picked out his forward with a pinpoint cross. Ebobisse braced himself and put his header at the near post, but Mannone was quick to put a glove in the air and palm the shot away.
The Timbers forced yet another save from Mannone in the 70th minute, although the Minnesota keeper may not have known much about it. A diagonal cross into the box from Blanco found the head of Cristhian Paredes for a flicked on ball toward goal that skipped off the turf and bounced off the far post. As the ball settled, Diego Valeri stuck out a boot to poke it toward goal, but Mannone was in the way and made the save.
The Timbers found one last chance on goal in the second minute of stoppage time when a barrage of corner kicks finally resulted in a headed shot from Mabiala. The chance arched toward the far post, but Mannone was again on hand and snatched the ball out of the air.
Finally, the Loons nearly snatched the game in the last minute of stoppage when a ball over the top put Kyle Molino in one on one with Clark. Holding off a recovering defender, Molino looked to play a low shot past Clark, but the Timbers keeper held his ground and put a boot to the chance, deflecting it away from goal.
The Timbers are in action on Wednesday when they will host the New England Revolution for their last cross-conference match of the season.