The 2022 U.S. Open Cup run of the Portland Timbers lived a short life and suffered a sudden death on Tuesday night, as the Timbers fell to LAFC on the road 2-0 and were eliminated from the competition. Cristian Arango opened scoring in the 32nd minute, and Mamadou Fall added the second for the hosts in the 54th minute — both goals coming off of set piece opportunities.
Coming off of short rest, the Timbers fielded a rotated starting XI. It featured a Timbers 2 loanee in midfielder (Victor Griffith), and the first team debut of Nathan Fogaca, who was signed just a week ago by the Timbers.
The first half was marked by Portland unsurprisingly sitting in a lower block, absorbing pressure and putting the onus on the hosts to try to break them down and dictate play. The Timbers did well through the first half hour to deny space in the middle of the pitch and force LAFC wide. It was one of the more encouraging starts to a game that Portland has put in this season.
It was undone though in the 32nd minute, when LAFC struck off a recycled set piece via Cristian Arango. The LAFC striker slipped the ball into the net between David Bingham and his near post.
Entering the second half needing to score, the Timbers did the opposite and conceded within the first ten minutes of the second half. Mamadou Fall haunted the Timbers yet again, as he scored off a poorly cleared corner kick in the 55th minute.
Despite increased energy brought by way of the introduction of regular starters midway through the second half, Portland couldn’t find the net. The low point of the half may have been the 89th minute, however, when Jaroslaw Niezgoda went down with an injury and had to be subbed off barely twenty minutes after entering the game.
After showing an increased energy and focus in their last match over the weekend, Tuesday was a frustrating result for a Timbers team that is still searching to kick their 2022 season into gear.
6’ Opening stages of the first half were expectedly dictated by LAFC’s tempo. The Timbers initially looked to defend compact on a mid-block and look to attack on the break. So it was a bit of a pedestrian start to affairs — just to Portland’s liking.
11’ Portland got their first period of sustained possession, attempting to work the ball around the field to open up the LAFC defense. It ends in nothing however, as a shanked pass flew out of bounds.
13’ Cristian Arango was slipped in behind and put a shot off the post. The flag ultimately came up for offside, nullifying the chance.
16’ Portland’s press creates a turnover, and Nathan got off a bouncing shot from distance. LAFC ‘keeper Maxime Crepeau easily collected the effort.
22’ LAFC won a free kick in a wide area, and the subsequent whipped in cross was redirected on goal. David Bingham reacted well to parry the ball away and the danger was eventually cleared.
23’ The ball almost immediately went back the other way, as Marvin Loria found Santiago Moreno in space on a lightning counter. Moreno got off a wicked curling shot, but Crepeau was equal to it and tip it off target by the skin of his fingernails.
25’ Justin Rasmussen earned a free kick in a dangerous spot just outside the box. And it’s almost another Bill Tuiloma Special — but the ball went off of the LAFC wall.
32’ LAFC opened up the scoring off a corner kick. An LAFC corner kick was recycled, and Kwadwo Opoku cut a ball in the box towards the near post. Arango was there ahead of Zac McGraw, and he squeezed the ball off a back heel between Bingham and the near post into the back of the net. 1-0 LAFC.
37’ Zac “hey, he’s got wheels!” McGraw makes an excellent recovery run to chase down Arango on the break and tackle the ball away.
38’ A flurry of offensive activity from LAFC ended in a point-black shot just being tipped over the bar by Bingham. On the subsequent corner, Bingham came up big again to make an excellent reaction save off a shot through traffic.
43’ Tuiloma found himself in an absolute acre of space in the box off a free kick, but his header on frame was disrupted at the last possible second.
Despite their late effort, the Timbers went into the locker room trailing by a goal. McGraw’s play was a standout, as were the flashes Nathan showed up top in his hold up and link up play. Moreno also continued to be dangerous, continuing from what he showed last weekend.
46’ Bingham was immediately called into action, as he leapt to punch away a dangerously floated cross. Bingham came out of the half alert, the rest of the Timbers... not so much.
54’ LAFC scored their second goal of the game, once again off a corner kick. The initial clearance fell right to Mamadou Fall in the center of the box, and he buried the ball past Bingham to make affairs 2-0.
59’ The Timbers subbed on Cristhian Paredes for Diego Chara, presumably in a move to save Chara’s legs as he worked back from injury.
65’ Nathan was shown a yellow card for being a littler overeager in chasing down a ball when he barreled over an LAFC defender that was in the way.
66’ The Timbers brought on the big guns, as they introduced Sebastian Blanco, Yimmi Chara, and Jaroslaw Niezgoda to the fray.
71’ Seba made his presence known early, as he had a powerful shot from close range parried over the bar.
72’ Ayala got into the fun, as he tagged the crossbar off a thunderbolt from distance. The Timbers decidedly turned the intensity up since the introduction of their most effective attackers.
79’ Danny Musosvski puts a shot from distance on frame, and Bingham again does well to dive to his right and knock it wide.
89’ Bad went to worse for the Timbers, as Niezgoda went down with what appeared to be a groin injury. Barely twenty minutes after subbing on, the striker needed to be subbed off.
The final whistle blew with Portland losing 2-0 to LAFC and exiting the Open Cup just as quicky as they entered it.
Portland will undoubtedly be happy to finally return home, where they will prepare to face Sporting Kansas City at Providence Park on Saturday, May 14, at 7:00 p.m.