This article is becoming an all too familiar one to write. The Portland Timbers once again played a great match — only for it to not matter because they dropped two points by allowing yet another goal in extra time. Once again, the Timbers are coming out of a 1-1 draw — this time against the Seattle Sounders — feeling like it’s more of a loss than a tie. Add it to the list of disappointing results that Portland has allowed this season.
Having that tie come against the Sounders makes it all the more sour for a couple reasons: First, it’s the Sounders, and there are few things more frustrating than not getting the preferred result against your rivals. Second, this draw cost Portland an opportunity to jump ahead in the Western Conference standings. Instead of leapfrogging Seattle for the top spot, Portland remains in a tie for first place. If you need a very quick match summary besides our recap, here’s Timbers head coach Giovanni Savarese:
“We feel disappointed again because we almost got there to get three points again on a very difficult field against a difficult team battling for the top of the West,” Savarese said. “So it’s unfortunate we couldn’t close the match.”
Yeah, that about sums it up. And the worst part is that Portland played pretty well the entire game. Both teams had their dangerous moments, but it really seemed like the Timbers dominated at the first half. In the second half, Seattle put the pressure on offensively, but few of the shots they got were even on goal. Portland was more than happy to let Seattle win possession if they weren’t going to hit the shots.
But once again it fell by the wayside when Dario Zuparic lost Will Bruin momentarily, and the striker was able to put it in the back of the net for the equalizer. Just like against LAFC, it was yet another back line mistake in extra time that cost the Timbers points. Focusing for the whole 90 minutes has been a problem at different parts throughout this season, and that problem reared its ugly head yet again last night.
“I think the process is just to stay focused the whole game,” defender Larrys Mabiala said. “We just had a little bit of less focus in those crucial moments and this is what caused us to concede those two goals in the last two games.”
Everything feels bleak if you look deep enough into it, but Savarese had a positive spin on the night as well. While it was obviously not an ideal result, there were good things, such as the offensive creation (including a goal from Andres Flores in his first appearance this season) and what was stellar defense up until the conceded goal. But what Savarese was most encouraged by was the fact the team knew that they should’ve had the victory, and he thinks his squad showed a certain amount of resilience tonight.
“Right there, that’s a good sign,” Savarese said. “That’s a good sign that shows that we came here for something more important, to get three points, and the fact that we finish the game disappointed because of what happened at the end shows that we were convinced that the work that we put in was going to give us points.”
Even with the recent results, that’s probably the best outlook for the club. No, they shouldn’t be dropping points like they have been recently, but it’s not because of sustained subpar play; it’s once again because of these little lapses. Portland just has to figure out how to tighten up again when it matters most. For Mabiala, all they can do is acknowledge what happened and move on to the next match.
“This is something we need to work on,” Mabiala said. “But at the same time, I don’t really want to focus too much on that because the more you think about it ... the more the same situation happens, so we still want to play the way we played, especially in the first half, and try to erase those late goals that we concede.”