Welcome back to the Post-Slab Pint, where I break down (pint in hand) the good and the bad from each Portland Timbers’ result. This week, I’ll be talking about the Timbers’ 1–3 home loss to the LA Galaxy. It was another unfortunate early-season performance from the Timbers, as the Galaxy strolled into Providence Park and took their hosts to task early and often.
Seeing as there were plenty of negative aspects from the performance, I’ll start with what I thought was bad last weekend:
Right back proved to be a problem area for the Timbers again, as Samuel Grandsir took Pablo Bonilla to task in the first half before the latter was sent off. Bonilla was sent off in first-half stoppage time after being given his first start of the season. He’d been started in place of Josecarlos Van Rankin, who was serving his own red-card suspension after being sent off against Orlando City SC in the previous fixture. But even before the red card, Bonilla had an absolutely horrendous outing — and it played a large part in both of the Galaxy’s opening two goals. If he wasn’t rashly diving into challenges against Grandsir (like he did for LA’s first), he was failing to close the winger down (as was the case for LA’s second). While the red card was soft, it was also both needless and deserved, as has been the case for all of the Timbers three sending-offs this season. Soccer Made in PDX host Chris Rifer said it best:
The giveaways have been brutal, but right back is approaching crisis levels for the Timbers. #RCTID— Chris Rifer (@ChrisRifer) April 3, 2022
All three of the Galaxy’s goals were scored from crosses into the penalty area, two of which from within the six-yard-box. I’m not covering any new ground when I say that Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez is one of the most lethal strikers in MLS, but the already tall task of keeping him off the scoresheet becomes a whole lot tougher when you fail to track his runs in the box. Granted, Chicharito has made a career off of his ghost-like poaching ability, but he was completely unmarked for both of his goals last weekend. Switching off against elite players like that in pivotal goal-scoring moments cannot happen if you want to be a contender. “If we lose focus for that split second, that can punish us, and we cannot allow that,” said Bill Tuiloma after the match.
Despite the result, there were a few positive aspects of how the Timbers played against the Galaxy:
The Timbers’ attack created a lot of really quality goal-scoring chances, despite not being able to score from open play. I thought that, in the first half especially, the Timbers played really well going forward, and that the attack looked as good as it has at any point this season. They outshot the Galaxy 10–6 in the first half and, but for some wasteful finishing (looking at Yimmi in the 28th minute), should have scored more. “We have to capitalize, we have to find a way maybe not to be so pretty and be more determined to score the goals,” said Savarese.
Bill Tuiloma carried over his goal-scoring form for New Zealand into his first game back with the Timbers, netting a beautiful free-kick. I truly think that Tuiloma is the best option the Timbers have to take free-kicks on the edge of the box at the moment. He absolutely leathered a shot into the top-right corner of the goal in the 51st minute, just as he did from a similar spot against Real Salt Lake in the Timbers’ final preseason game earlier this year. Long may his wondergoals continue.