The Portland Timbers suffered their first loss of the 2022 season, as they were dominated 4-1 by FC Dallas in Frisco on Saturday night. Jesus Ferreira scored a ten-minute hat trick in the first half and assisted Paul Arriola for the fourth goal in the demolition of the Timbers. Jaroslaw Niezgoda scored the Timbers’ lone goal and his first of the season, in what was a small consolation for yet another bad night in Texas.
With regular starting central midfielder Cristhian Paredes missing the trip to Dallas due to a hamstring injury, 19 year-old David Ayala was handed the start. The U-22 Initiative signing got his first MLS minutes at home last week and got his first MLS start this week.
As could have been expected from the Timbers playing on the road, Portland started out the match sitting deep, ceding possession to Dallas, and seeking to create their offense via quick touch counter attacks.
The first fifteen minutes wound up being shaky for the Timbers. They did a decent job of keeping Dallas in front of them, however loose possession and loose passes out of the back gifted Dallas the ball in dangerous spots. The Texas side was able to generate two early shots on goal, but Aljaz Ivacic was up to the task, handling both shots.
Still, Dallas was able to enjoy a lot of the ball. The Timbers weren’t able to string any semblance of possession together during the first half and it allowed Dallas to enjoy more and more sustained possession.
Dallas eventually broke down the Timbers and generated the game’s opening goal in the 26th minute. A pretty team move from the hosts sprung Alan Velasco in behind the right side of the Timbers’ defense. Josecarlos Van Rankin was caught in no man's land, leaving Velasco time to cut the ball into the box. Paul Arriola expertly dummied the ball along for Jesus Ferriera, who banged the ball off the crossbar and over the line, giving the hosts a 1-0 lead.
Dallas and Ferreira weren’t done there. Not five minutes later, Dallas would again use possession to their advantage and worked the ball all the way around the field. The Timbers were ineffective in closing down space and winning the ball, and Dallas fullback Nanu was able to swing in a ball into the box from the right side. Ferreira was there to meet it with his head and nodded it past Ivacic. Ferreira had notched a brace in less than four minutes and put Portland in a 2-0 hole.
At this point, you may think that the Timbers decided to focus on stopping the bleeding and buttoning up their defense. But alas, this was an early-season game in Dallas, so of course there had to be one more first-half blow.
And it came in the form of a hat trick for Jesus Ferreira. The Timbers were once again unable to close down and win the ball (yes, it’s a trend) on multiple occasions during Dallas’s build-up and the ball ended up at the feet of Ferreira at the top of the box. The American striker fired a low shot towards the near post, and it beat Ivacic for the game’s third goal.
All of Portland’s defensive players were at fault for Ferreira’s first-half barrage of goals, with Josecarlos Van Rankin standing out as especially suspect in Dallas’s goal sequences. The focused and gritty defensive effort the Timbers showed in their first three games of the season all but evaporated in the first half, and the hosts had their way. Portland did nothing offensively to relieve the pressure, as they managed just a single shot in the first half.
Just as they had the last time they made the trip to Dallas, the Timbers went into halftime down 3-0. This time it was courtesy of a ten-minute hat trick from Jesus Ferreira.
As we have come to expect from Giovanni Savarese’s sides in the second half of games, the Timbers came out in the second half much more assertive and focused. It was no doubt aided by the halftime introduction of Sebastian Blanco, who came on for Santiago Moreno at the start of the second frame.
The Timbers, aided by Blanco, generated much more offense in the opening minutes of the second half. The stretch was highlighted by Blanco collecting a ball in the box and getting off a hard, rising shot on goal, only to see it palmed over the bar by Dallas goalkeeper Maarten Paes.
That increased offensive onus would finally pay off in the 61st minute. Blanco stamped his influence on the game by playing provider, as he pinged a ball over the top for Jaroslaw Niezgoda to run on to. Niezgoda collected the ball with his first touch, and then deftly chipped the ball over the goalkeeper and into the back of the net. Niezgoda bagged his first goal of the season and the Timbers cut the deficit to two.
Continuing their second-half surge, the Timbers nearly got their second, as Dairon Asprilla got on the end of a ball swung into the box. Despite the efforts of the Dallas defender and keeper, Dairon had a step on his man, but he skied his shot as he slid to meet the ball. It was a big miss, but reflective of the increased positive effort the Timbers were putting in.
Portland’s second-half surge would eventually slow and Dallas tried to wrestle control back. The hosts did a better job of denying space to Blanco and forced the ball off his foot and daring Portland’s other players to make something happen offensively. As the game entered the final fifteen minutes, it didn’t appear that that was set to happen.
The Timbers continued to push their line higher in an attempt to try to cut into Dallas’ lead, but it left them vulnerable on the defensive end. And Dallas was happy to take advantage and extend their lead once again.
Ferreira, this time, turned provider, as he collected a ball near the top of the box and played Paul Arriola in behind. Arriola cooly slotted the ball in the bottom corner at the far post, restoring the hosts’ three-goal advantage and making the scoreline 4-1.
After conceding, the Timbers tried to put in as much more offensive effort as they could muster. But everyone knew that Arriola’s goal was the back breaker, and it doomed the Timbers to yet another 4-1 loss in Frisco. It was the same scoreline the Timbers had lost by the last time they played FC Dallas on the road and followed a similarly dispirited effort.
Despite an encouraging three weeks to start the season, it was a harsh fall to earth for the Timbers. Their bugaboo in Frisco continued, as they once again turned in a poor performance on the road against FC Dallas. The opening twenty minutes of the second half were encouraging, as was the play by Sebastian Blanco, but it was too little, too late as Portland failed to collect points for the first time in 2022.
The Timbers will return home to lick their wounds and are back in action next Sunday when they face Orlando City SC at Providence Park at 1 p.m. (Pacific).