In what proved to be a difficult 90 minutes, the Portland Timbers fell to Austin FC 4-1 at Q2 Stadium. Jeremy Ebobisse scored the lone goal for Portland, while Jon Gallagher, Diego Fagundez, Alexander Ring, and Héctor Jiménez scored for Austin.
The Timbers reverted back to a 4-2-3-1 after experimenting with a 3-4-3 and a 5-2-3 the past few matches. No starters were particularly surprising, with the Timbers not needing to worry too much about rest with no match this upcoming weekend or next week.
The only worry the Timbers had for most of the night was how to stop Austin FC from creating chances. Austin did well to put pressure on the Timbers in the attacking third right from the start. They created six set piece opportunities in just the first 15 minutes, with the Timbers doing an admirable job bending but not breaking. There were scary moments for Portland, but Steve Clark and company held strong.
The Timbers’ attack, meanwhile, looked a bit disjointed. They struggled a bit in their buildup and never quite found a connection. Portland isn’t a team that particularly worries about maintaining possession for too long, but it was noticeable how poorly they handled the ball in the first half.
After bending for a while, the Timbers finally broke. In the 28th minute, Jon Gallagher got the ball at the top of the box and worked it outside to Tomás Pochettino. Pochettino quickly passed it back to Gallagher in the box, who let it fly. This time, the shot got by Clark, and Austin had a 1-0 lead.
They wouldn’t wait long to strike again. In the 33rd minute, Pablo Bonilla attempted a long pass that was intercepted with a header. The banging header found its way to the feet of Cecilio Domínguez, who played a perfect through ball to Diego Fagundez. With no Timbers in sight, Fagundez dribbled the ball up and sent a shot past Clark to the bottom-right corner. Austin led 2-0.
Things were looking bleak for Portland. Once again, they had put together a miserable first half where nothing of promise had occurred. But thanks to seven minutes of extra time was added thanks to a VAR review and an injury, the Timbers got a late chance and capitalized.
In the seventh minute of extra time in the first half, Diego Valeri played a ball up the right side of the field to Marvin Loria. Loria dribbled the ball all the way down to the end line and sent a low cross into the box. A sliding Jeremy Ebobisse appeared and netted the shot with style. Ebobisse had his second goal of the year, and the Timbers had successfully made it only 2-1 Austin FC heading into the half.
The second half started, and the Timbers did a much better job putting pressure on Austin FC. Once again, after spending a half trying to remember how to play soccer, Portland came out and looked strong.
That didn’t last long. They couldn’t capitalize on anything and eventually the momentum shifted from being mostly in their favor to about 50-50. That was bad news for a team trailing on the road against an expansion side playing their in their new stadium. It felt bleak, but it got bleaker.
Austin added to their lead in the 77th minute. With the free kick, Domínguez launched a perfect cross into the box. Alexander Ring was right there to send the ball into the back of the goal. It was now 3-1 Austin.
Austin didn’t stop there. They decided to add one more in the 81st minute for good measure. Jared Stroud controlled the ball deep in Portland’s box. He played an easy ball to Héctor Jiménez, who made no mistake in the goal. His shot found the back of the net and gave Austin a 4-1 lead. After this goal, all that was left was for the Timbers to wait for the final whistle.
The Timbers will be back in action two weeks from now when they take on another Texas team — FC Dallas — at home in Portland for their first match at full capacity in Providence Park. That match is set for 7:30 p.m. Pacific on July 17.