The Portland Timbers scored first for the third straight game to close out their preseason, but, as was the case on Wednesday, they could not keep up with their opponents, ultimately falling 3-1 to the New England Revolution at Providence Park.
Moments after the whistle blew to start the match the Timbers had a gilded chance. After winning the ball in the attacking end, the Timbers found Diego Valeri in space outside the Revolution box. Striding into the ball, Valeri clipped a dipping shot toward goal that forced Matt Turner into a diving parry and left the ball bouncing in the box. As the New England defenders spun to look for the ball, Felipe Mora and Yimmi Chara were already on the scene. Mora arrived at the ball first and lunged for a sliding shot before Turner could recover, but he could not make solid contact with the ball and sent it spinning out of bounds rather than into the open net.
New England managed a chance of their own in the 8th minute when a cross from out wide on the Timbers’ left flank found new forward Adam Buksa streaking through the center of the box. Buksa hit the cross first-time, sending a rolling shot toward goal that left Steve Clark only able to look on hopefully as it rolled past the far post and out for a goal kick.
After a rash of offside decisions going against them, the Timbers came close again in the 21st minute. After winning the ball in the center of the pitch, Diego Chara played a quick series of passes with his brother, ultimately playing a rolling ball toward the end line for Yimmi to cross into the box. As the ball dropped, Mora rose up to meet it and snapped a header toward goal only for the ball to fly just over the bar.
One minute later the Timbers came close again when D.Chara sent a rolling ball into space on the right for Valeri. The Maestro ran onto the ball and hit a curling cross into the box that dropped at the far post where Mora again met it. This time the Timbers striker put his header parallel to goal, finding Y.Chara for a snapped header of his own only to put it directly into the chest of Turner.
In the 29th minute the Timbers got the opening goal of the night when they were able to take advantage of some sloppy passing from the New England defense. After Scott Caldwell hit a poorly weighted pass back toward his keeper Mora jumped on the ball, intercepting it and putting himself into a one on one spot with Turner closing him down. Mora attempted a quick shot past Turner, but the Revolution keeper made the block. As the ball caromed away from Turner it fell to D.Chara at the top of the box where the Timbers keystone hit a placed ball into the corner of the net and gave his side a 1-0 lead.
The Timbers goal shook the visitors awake and the Revolution responded with a flurry of chances in the following minutes. First a 32nd minute volley from Kellyn Rowe forced a save from Clark, then in the 35th minute Buksa put a looping header off the crossbar, and in the 38th minute Cristian Panilla hit a curled shot that flew just wide of the far post.
Just as it began to look like the Timbers had weathered the storm, the Revolution struck. In the 42nd minute the visitors found winger Brandon Bye out wide on the Timbers’ left. The New England winger hit a curling ball that arched over the mass of defenders in the center of the Timbers’ box and fell to Gustavo Bou making a run at the far post. Bou hit the ball on the volley and was able to squeeze it between Clark and the post to draw the match even at 1-1.
The momentum continued to build for the Revolution as they grabbed a second goal going into the half. After the Timbers’ nth offside call of the match stopped a move down the pitch, the Revolution caught the Timbers off balance by quickly striking back down the pitch. A quick pass through the center of the defense found Buksa just inside the box and able to turn toward goal before checking his stride and being bundled over from behind by Larrys Mabiala. After the referee pointed to the penalty spot, Bou stepped up to the ball and beat Clark with a chipped spot kick to put the visitors up 2-1.
The second half did not improve things for the Timbers as they conceded again in the 51st minute. A ball into the center of the box from Bou rolled past Buksa and was poked away by Jorge Moreira, only for the ball to fall once again to Bou. With the Timbers off balance the Argentine hit a simple ball into the center of the box, this time finding Buksa in front of the net for a simple finish.
The third New England goal seemed to sap much of the energy out of the match. The Timbers struggled to complete passes in the center of the pitch and seemed frustrated by their off-ball movement.
The side seemed re-invigorated with the substitutions of Andy Polo and Jeremy Ebobisse onto the pitch in the 66th minute, stringing together some more coherent attacking moves as the match wore on. Those moves would amount to nothing, however, as the Revolution — comfortable in with their two goal lead — were able to clamp down on the defensive end and look for opportunities to strike out on the counter.
Today’s match concludes the Timbers’ slate of preseason games. They will be back in action next Sunday, March 1st, when they will open their season at home, hosting Minnesota United FC.