The Timbers came into the match against Atlanta United off of back-to-back losses against LAFC and St. Louis City SC, and dealing with a whole host of injuries. The Timbers were without eight first team players for the match: Evander, Yimmi Chara, Dairon Asprilla, Felipe Mora, Sebastian Blanco, Cristhian Paredes, David Ayala, and Eric Miller.
However, starting goalkeeper Aljaz Ivacic made his return to the starting XI after missing the first three matches of the season through injury.
The match went as well as you could have expected it to under the circumstances. Injuries, away from home against a good team, and poor form all culminated in an absolute clinic from Atlanta United, who look to be a real threat to win MLS Cup again this year.
The Timbers thought they had a goal within two minutes of kickoff, but VAR disallowed an absolute thunderbolt from Eryk Williamson for offside. From that point on, it was all Atlanta. The host’s first of the night came through Caleb Wiley after a calamity in defense allowed Thiago Almada to slide the teenager through on goal.
Almada would then go on to double the lead with an outrageous free-kick from all of 30 yards out, bending a right-footed blast past a helpless Aljaz Ivacic and into the back of the net.
Greek International Giorgos Giakoumakis made it 3-0 with a nice header inside the box off of an assist from Wiley, and Luiz Araujo made it 4-0 in the 75th minute thanks to Almada’s second assist of the match.
Tega Ikoba would go on to pull a goal back for the Timbers with seven minutes of regulation time remaining, but Atlanta United tacked on a fifth through Almada’s second goal of the match just three minutes later.
All in all a terrible day at the office for the Timbers, who have lost three matches in a row since their opening day victory against Sporting Kansas City, which seems a lifetime ago.
2’ DISALLOWED PORTLAND TIMBERS GOAL It should have been the perfect start for the Timbers in the second minute when Eryk Williamson scored what looked to be a goal-of-the-season contender from outside the box. However, after VAR review, referee Ted Unkel called off the goal having adjudged Jaroslaw Niezgoda to be interfering with play from an offside position. I think it was a terrible call, but that’s just me.
25’ GOAL ATLANTA UNITED, 1-0 The host side opened the scoring in the 25th minute through teenage sensation Caleb Wiley after some absolutely atrocious defending from Juan Mosquera and Claudio Bravo in transition. The two defenders got tangled up with each other tracking a high bouncing ball, which allowed Almada to calmly play the ball into Wiley’s path. The finish essentially a formality.
29’ Aljaz Ivacic made a huge stop to deny Atlanta’s designated player Giakoumakis from doubling their lead after swift, incisive buildup play completely opened up the Timbers’ backline. The Greek International striker connected well on a cutback cross, but Ivacic got down quickly to smother it before it crossed the line.
30’ Atlanta went close again moments later after breaking out in transition following a Timbers corner. This time it was Araujo who went close, but late pressure from Juan Mosquera just about did enough to put the striker off as he took his shot.
44’ The Timbers finally connected with one of their own players on a corner just before halftime, and it shockingly didn’t result in an Atlanta counterattack. Williamson’s take found a leaping McGraw in the box, but the centerback couldn’t get any placement on his powerful header.
45+3’ YELLOW CARD Larrys Mabiala was shown a card for a poorly-timed challenge on Giakoumakis.
45+4’ GOAL ATLANTA UNITED, 2-0 From the free kick awarded on Mabiala’s foul, Thiago Almada unleashed a wicked free-kick from distance that no ‘keeper in the world could have kept out. Pace, power, precision, just a phenomenal goal from Atlanta’s talisman. Sometimes the only thing you can do is tip the cap.
OMG Thiago Almada!— Major League Soccer (@MLS) March 19, 2023
Absolute world-class strike. pic.twitter.com/cxnCYD0Rky
At the break, the Timbers trailed Atlanta United 2-0.
48’ DISALLOWED ATLANTA UNITED GOAL The hosts thought they had a third through Giakoumakis after yet another counterattack, but the offside flag spared the Timbers’ non-existent midfield resistance.
59’ GOAL ATLANTA UNITED, 3-0 Giakoumakis finally scored the goal he’d been threatening all night just before the hour mark. A cross to the back post found him completely unmarked, and a well-placed header saw the DP open his account for Atlanta.
61’ YELLOW CARD Claudio Bravo was booked for a mis-timed tackle.
65’ Nathan had the Timbers’ best chance to score with a wide-open shot from inside the box, but rushed his first-time shot and sent it closer to the roof of the stadium than the roof of the net.
67’ YELLOW CARD Eryk Williamson was cautioned for unsportsmanlike conduct.
68’ YELLOW CARD Zac McGraw was cautioned for a foul stopping an Atlanta counter.
69’ SUBSTITUTION Justin Rasmussen and Marvin Loria entered the match in place of Claudio Bravo and Santiago Moreno.
75’ GOAL ATLANTA UNITED, 4-0 Luiz Araujo added to the rout with a well-taken left-footed finish from inside the box off of an assist from? You guessed it, Thiago Almada.
78’ SUBSTITUTION Tega Ikoba and Diego Gutierrez replaced Zac McGraw and Jaroslaw Niezgoda.
83’ GOAL PORTLAND TIMBERS, 4-1 19-year-old Tega Ikoba scored his first goal for the Timbers after replacing Jaroslaw Niezgoda five minutes prior. The Timbers’ homegrown player got his head to a ball, and nodded past Brad Guzan to give the Timbers at least one positive to talk about.
86’ GOAL ATLANTA UNITED, 5-1 *crickets chirping* Thiago Almada *crickets chirping*
Thiago Almada with the brace. ✌️ pic.twitter.com/lVugr4PTGy— Major League Soccer (@MLS) March 19, 2023
After four minutes of stoppage time, the score finished 5-1 in favor of Atlanta United. The Timbers return to Providence Park for their next match, an early kickoff scheduled for 1:30 p.m. PST on Saturday, March 25th.