In a long, arduous Sunday match, the Portland Timbers fought Los Angeles Football Club to a 1-1 draw, with the equalizing goal coming in extra time for LAFC. It was the 11th goal the Timbers have given up in the final 15 minutes of a match this season.
After rotating heavily on Wednesday, Portland went with a lineup that featured most of their strongest XI. Most notably, Chris Duvall made his return to the starting lineup after nursing a thigh injury. Steve Clark also reentered the lineup, as well as Jorge Villafana, Yimmi Chara, Larrys Mabiala, and Dario Zuparic.
There was a very scary moment early on as Jeremy Ebobisse went down hard in the fifth minute. Ebobisse collided with Jordan Harvey midair, with Harvey’s shoulder seemingly hitting Ebobisse in the back of the head. Jebo landed hard on the pitch and was down for a couple minutes before eventually popping back up. Ebobisse remained in the game, and Harvey was shown a yellow card.
LAFC was aggressive from the start, finding the gaps behind Portland’s back line. It hurt Portland a couple times, but luck was on their side for the half. The Timbers had their fair share of chances too, especially thanks to services from Diego Valeri. Both teams had an abundance of opportunities early.
Things were very physical throughout the first half. Three yellow cards were shown, with two of them being going against Portland. Both of the yellows for Portland were met with some controversy, with Diego Chara’s coming on a fairly innocuous challenge and Eryk Williamson’s occurring after a review of an inadvertent elbow from the midfielder. The Timbers were visibly frustrated with the refereeing by Allen Chapman
Portland started to pull ahead in terms of chances offensively. They spent a lot of time in the final third, getting 10 shots off to LAFC’s two. But even though Portland had more chances, both teams found themselves in the opposing team’s box a lot. Despite the chances for both teams, it remained gridlocked at 0-0 going into the half.
Two minutes into the second half, the Timbers finally broke through. Villafana dispossessed LAFC and then worked it to Yimmi Chara down the left side. Chara drew the back line and then passed it to Felipe Mora at the top of the box. Jeremy Ebobisse started to make his run down the right side and Mora saw it, passing it to a cutting Ebobisse for the first goal of the match. It was the 14th time the Timbers had scored first this year.
For Portland, it was a continuation of the offensive success they had found in the first half. The Timbers spent what felt like the first five minutes of the half strictly in the attacking third, constantly filling space and finding the lanes. Whenever LAFC got the ball they were quickly relieved of it, with Portland attacking almost immediately every time.
But LAFC picked it up a bit offensively in the second half. They were looking hard for that equalizer, really trying to maintain possession in hopes of finding that perfect opportunity. They had several chances, especially off of set pieces and long crosses, but Portland was usually able to match up and stop them (or at least have Steve Clark make the impressive save).
Like in the first half, Ebobisse went down with an apparent injury, and this time he didn’t stay on. After going in the air to challenge the header from Dejan Jakovic, Ebobisse was hit in the left leg and landed hard on it. He laid on the ground for a couple minutes before getting some help off the field. Jaroslaw Niezgoda subbed in.
It was a very chaotic end to this game. LAFC continued to push bodies forward with hopes of increasing their chances of scoring. In extra time it paid off. Christian Torres found the ball at the top of the box and sent a left-footed shot right past Clark. LAFC never lost confidence in their ability to get at least a point in this match, and because of that they were able to find the equalizer.
The reality was that LAFC took over towards latter part of the second half. They continuously pushed ball forward and never wavered, even after Portland struck first. They worked Portland’s back line and was rewarded for it. Instead of three points for Portland, it was one point for both clubs, with the end result being a 1-1 draw.
Next up: The Timbers will take on the team from that fishing village up north, the Seattle Sounders. They’ll travel to Seattle for that one, with kickoff at 7:30 p.m. PT.