The Portland Timbers have recently become merchants in late game drama. It had been in their favor as of late, but tonight it came back to doom them, as they fell 2-1 against Minnesota United by way of an 85th minute winner from Robin Lod. Felipe Mora scored again, but it wouldn’t be enough, as the Timbers tired legs couldn’t handle a late barrage from the Loons as Portland dropped their latest result on the road.
The match opened up with both teams willing to press and attack the other side. Minnesota opted for combination play at the top of the box, and the Timbers looked to collect and counterattack. Portland looked active and dangerous early, trying to impose their will on the match in the early stages.
And as was the case when these two teams last met, there were fireworks early. This time, they were in favor of the Timbers. After clearing a Minnesota attack in the tenth minute, Dairon Asprilla broke down the left side. In what was a mirror image of the winner against LAFC, Asprilla whipped in an early cross and Felipe Mora made a quintessential and perfect run. His glancing header flew past Tyler Miller, and Portland was up a goal to the good early.
After the goal, the Loons ratcheted up pressure. They had five corners in first half alone, and while not many of them found the heads of Loons players, backup goalkeeper Aljaz Ivacic was called upon to make sudden and outstanding save to deny Lod on the doorstep in the 25th minutes. The Timbers weathered the storm however, and went into the second half leading by a goal. They were outshot 12-3, but only let one shot on goal. They lost the first half Expected Goal battle 1.1 to 0.1, with most of that coming off the Lod chance for the Loons. But on the whole, the Timbers looked solid and cohesive in the first half.
That would continue as the Timbers come out strong in the second half. Diego Valeri subbed on for Marvin Loria at the start of the second period, and provided a different dimension to the attack. Portland found their chances early by way of a few set pieces, with one particular corner kick ending in Larrys Mabiala rifling a shot off over the bar.
The Timbers looked lively and active through the hour mark. But then, the amount of minutes the team has put on their legs over the past week started to come home to roost. Playing their third game in just a week, on the road after just two days rest against a fully rested Minnesota United, the Timbers started to tire.
The home side began to find more and more of the ball, and were able to work into dangerous crossing positions. Josecarlos Van Rankin, playing his third straight game at his second choice position of left back, was in particular being targeted by Emanuel Reynoso of the Loons. He would whip in dangerous cross after dangerous cross, but the Timbers defense was able to do just enough.
In the 74th minute however, the resistance would finally break. After the Timbers defense cleared another Minnesota, the ball fell to Hassani Dotson, who shanked a lofted cross into the box. The ball found the head of Chase Gasper, who was falling backwards, and he got just enough on it over Dario Zuparic to direct towards the goal. Ivacic was rooted to the spot, and the ball nestled into the far post. The teams were square at one-all.
The Loons wouldn’t let up after finding the equalizer, intent on finding the winner. Portland’s fatigue really started to show, as they seemed to be unable to win back the ball and get out of their own end consistently. Minnesota continued to find dangerous spots, and it started to appear that a draw on the road would be a favorable, and perhaps lucky, result for the Timbers in the end.
Alas, it wasn’t meant to be, as Portland’s tired legs and subsequent difficulty to keep with their runners that would doom them in the end. In the 85th minute, Reynoso again found himself on the ball. He pinged a sterling ball in over the top, and Robin Lod sped past Van Rankin to get on the end of it. He brought it down with a touch, and slotted far post past Ivacic. Lod, who had missed several good chances throughout the night, finally found the target and put the hosts up 2-1.
Lod’s goal would wind up being the difference. Despite a late, somewhat out of nowhere, chance from Sebastian Blanco, the Timbers wouldn’t be able to find an equalizer. A week after finding their own late winner, the Timbers fell 2-1 on the road via a late clincher from their opponents.
The Timbers will now head into a welcome full week of rest, before they travel to face the LA Galaxy next Friday. For a team that is still working it’s way back to full strength, and is still without some crucial pieces, they will have time to regenerate and refocus as they seek to continue to right the ship of their 2021 season.