The Portland Timbers lost on Saturday night to MLS new boys St. Louis City SC by a 2-1 scoreline, falling in their second home game of the young MLS season.
Zac McGraw scored in the third minute to cap off an electric start for Portland, but the Timbers were eventually pegged back by a Jared Stroud equalizer in first half stoppage time. St. Louis struck again in the second half via Kyle Hiebert off a set piece, and Portland couldn’t claw back as they fell 2-1 to their second straight loss.
Coming off of a 3-2 loss in LA last weekend, the Timbers rolled out a changed lineup, which featured Claudio Bravo and Nathan getting the start. Timbers head coach Giovanni Savarese appeared to line up his squad in a back three look — something that served Portland well as they tried to mount their comeback last week.
Evander, who scored his first MLS goal last week, picked up a knock during training this week and started the game on the bench.
Before kickoff, the Timbers Army unveiled their latest and greatest tifo display, welcoming St. Louis to “No Pity Land: The Wildest Ride in MLS”. It featured an impressive flowing display of logs floating along a river down the North End.
With the Timbers Army in full energized voice, the Timbers came out flying at kickoff. Early pressure from Nathan and Eryk Williamson nearly created a goal in the first two minutes. That pressure paid off with Portland opening the scoring in the third minute, with Zac McGraw rising above the St. Louis defense on a corner kick and powering home a header.
Portland’s strong start was soured in the twelfth minute as Cristhian Paredes went down with a non-contact injury while stretching for a ball. Paredes had to be stretchered off, and was replaced by Evander.
Paredes’ energy seemed to suck some of the energy out of the stadium, as Portland’s strong start cooled and both teams settled into the game.
Despite Portland generating a few half-chances, St. Louis steadily started to pressure Portland’s backline as the half wore on. The visitors grew into the game well and in first half stoppage time they finally found their goal, as Jared Stroud equalized via a bouncing ball through traffic.
The teams went into the locker rooms locked at one goal apiece.
It was a sleepy start to the second half, as Portland attempted to find more sustained pressure in the attack. St. Louis found their best looks by jumping on Timbers turnovers — which Portland were to commit with alarming frequency, misplaying passes and losing the ball in traffic.
Despite some smoother offensive sequences from the Timbers as the half wore on, Portland wasn’t able to find a clear chance on goal. The closest they came was a wild sequence midway through the second frame, but City SC did well to block multiple Timbers shots.
The visitors eventually found the second half breakthrough off of a set piece, as centerback Kyle Hiebert headed in a bouncing ball after a cross in to the far post.
Despite a renewed late push, Portland couldn’t find an equalizer of their own, as the lost by a 2-1 scoreline to St. Louis.
2’ Nathan nearly got the party started early, as some slick interplay between him and Williamson sprung the Brazilian in behind, but his low shot was saved by a sliding Roman Burki.
3’ GOAL TIMBERS! 1-0 The Timbers did not have to wait long after almost scoring before scoring for real. On a corner kick, Eryk Williamson sent a high arcing kick which Zac McGraw raced towards. McGraw out-jumped multiple St. Louis defenders and powered his header past Roman Burki and into the bottom corner to score his first goal at Providence Park, and give Portland a well-earned early advantage.
12’ Cristhian Paredes stretched for a long ball over the top, and immediately pulled up holding the back of his right leg. He went down, and eventually had to be stretchered off the field. Yet another Timbers player appeared to have suffered a non-contact injury, and Paredes was replaced by Evander.
23’ Juan Mosqeura worked his way past his man to the endline, and cut back a ball for Santiago Moreno unmarked at the far post. Santi mistimed his volley attempt though, and it bounced off him for a goal kick.
29’ Jared Stroud was the first to go into the book, as he was shown a yellow card for a late sliding tackle from behind on Williamson.
30’ Some fancy feet from Williamson sprung in Mosquera, but Juan’s shot was high and over the bar.
39’ Joao Klauss found himself free with the ball at his feet in the box off of a Portland turnover in a bad spot. But the St. Louis striker skied his attempt well high, squandering the best chance the visitors had had up to that point — to the jeers of the North End faithful.
Due to the goal and injury five minutes of stoppage time were added at the end of the first half — and the visitors took advantage of it.
45’+2 Goal St. Louis 1-1. St. Louis had been pressuring Portland’s left flank all night, and they finally found some space in behind to whip in a cross. Klauss flubbed the first chance, but the ball fell to Stroud in space who volleyed a bouncing shot on goal through traffic. It took a slight deflection on the way through, wrong-footed David Bingham, and settled into the far corner to level the match.
The first half ended with affairs tied at one, with Portland conceding at one of the most inopportune moments.
The teams came out unchanged to start the second half, with Portland attacking towards the North End.
48’ Early chaos in the Timbers box, as a St. Louis corner kick bounced off of Klauss and pinged off the post right in front of goal. Bingham reacted first, as he kicked the ball out from the seat of his pants.
50’ Nathan tried an audacious curler from distance that just sailed high and wide.
54’ Dario Zuparic was shown a yellow card, as he pulled down Stroud to stop a St. Louis breakout.
64’ Rasmus Alm found himself in space in the box, and fired a low shot right at David Bingham, which the Timbers ‘keeper easily caught.
65’ Klauss now found himself in the middle of box with eyes on goal, but his attempt was blocked by Zuparic
66’ Yellow card shown to Miguel Perez of St. Louis for a bad foul.
68’ The game got chippier, as Moreno was shown a yellow for a high boot.
69’ Jaroslaw Niezgoda was the next Timbers sub, as he came on to replace Evander.
70’ An absolutely mad sequence saw Mosqeuera spin past two defenders with style, Zuparic carry the ball into the box and get so close to a shot, and multiple Timbers shots being blocked. One of the wildest sequences of the night, and one of Portland’s closest chances to score in the second half so far.
74’ McGraw is the latest Timber to go in the box, as he clattered into Klauss.
75’ Goal St. Louis 1-2. Off of the ensuing free kick, the ball bounced to St. Louis defender Kyle Hiebert at the far post, who sent a header on goal. It flew past all Timbers defenders, and despite a last ditch sliding attempt from McGraw to clear it, the ball traveled over the line and into the back of the net. The visitors had come back, and now led by a goal.
81’ After the goal Savarese took his final roll of the dice, as he subbed on Diego Gutierrez and Marvin Loria for Claudio Bravo and Santiago Moreno.
Despite the changes and despite several late set pieces opportunities, Portland couldn’t find their last chance to get something out of the game.
The whistle for full-time blew, and Portland fell to their second straight loss, this time at home at the hands of MLS’ newest side St. Louis SC.
Portland will next be in action on Saturday March 18, when they travel to Atlanta for the first time since MLS Cup 2018, when they face Atlanta United at 4:30 pm PT.