The Portland Timbers drew with the Los Angeles Galaxy 0-0 in a sunny and chilly afternoon at Providence Park. Two more Timbers players went down with injury, as both Marvin Loria and David Bingham had to exit the game with what appeared to be hamstring injuries. Portland kept their first clean sheet since opening weekend, and also collected their first point since that first game.
Portland, still dealing with a myriad of injuries, rolled out an adjusted lineup which featured Nathan continuing to start at center forward, and second-year player Diego Gutierrez getting the nod for his first MLS start.
Giovanni Savarese opted for David Bingham in goal, and Homegrown ‘keeper Hunter Sulte was on the bench as the backup. Aljaz Ivacic was a healthy scratch — and was reportedly not happy with the decision.
Aljaz Ivacic: “I’ve been ready and healthy since game one. Everything else you’re gonna hear is a lie.” #RCTID— Ryan Clarke (@RyanTClarke) March 25, 2023
Under the early spring sunshine with the chill of winter still in the air, the Timbers got the game underway.
With two squads that were missing as many players as Portland and LA were, it was not the most aesthetically pleasing match. The visitors had the better of the early running, forcing a leaping fingertip save from Bingham and sending a shot pinging off the far post.
It was another discouraging half for Portland from an attacking perspective, as the home side couldn’t generate any kind of consistent offense, and registered just a single shot in the opening frame. The closest they came was when Nathan found himself free in the box with the ball at his feet — but the sequence ended with Nathan losing the ball and getting shown a yellow card.
The first half came to a close, with the sole highlights being Bingham’s fingertips. They were also the only reason Portland remained in the game, as their offense was still missing in action.
The Timbers showed slightly more life offensively coming out of halftime, with Santiago Moreno getting on the end of a slick passing move and sending his shot over the bar.
But the game quick regressed into the choppy affair it was for the first half. The main highlights of the first thirty minutes of the second half were the smattering of yellow cards, which were shown liberally to both teams.
It appeared that the game was set to wind down and close with a whimper, especially after Marvin Loria had to leave game with yet another lowe-leg injury suffered by a Timbers player.
That is, until all hell broke out at the very end of the game.
The final minutes of regulation and stoppage time were a wild few minutes, with Portland nearly finding the net multiple times through attempts from Jaroslaw Niezgoda and Justin Rasmussen. There were wild crosses, defensive errors, and point blank stops as Portland found renewed energy to push for a winner, seemingly out of nowhere.
The very end was marred by another unfortunate injury however, as Bingham went down clutching his hamstring after coming out to clear a ball off an attacker (who was ruled offside). With the Timbers out of subs, Justin Rasmussen had to put on the gloves and play in goal for the closing seconds.
Despite the wild final push, the final whistle blew and the game ended with spoils shared and 0-0 the scoreline. Portland couldn’t score, but they picked up their first clean sheet and point since opening weekend.
2’ A nice early moment for Diego Gutierrez, who got stuck in and nearly forced a turnover in front of LA’s goal.
6’ SAVE! David Bingham with a heroic leaping save to touch a shot from the top of the box over the bar with them ‘tips.
14’ A defensive breakdown from Portland that included multiple defenders getting out-muscled for the ball led to Preston Judd sending a shot just off of the far post, in the best chance of the early going.
25’ Nathan went down in the box off a sliding challenge from Martin Caceres, which was initially called a clean challenge, and drew shouts for a penalty kick from Timbers players and fans alike. After a brief VAR review, the call stood and play resumed. In this humble blogger’s opinion, the reasoning behind such a decision seemed... dubious.
29’ ANOTHER SAVE! Bingham get his fingertips to another long-range curler, this time denying Riqui Puig from distance.
38’ Nathan Fogaca is shown the game’s first yellow card, presumably for colliding with Klinsmann as he leapt and flying at the endline. Nathan had the ball in the box in space, but took a heavy touch instead of shooting and lost the ball in the end.
The closing minutes of the first half got chippy, with hard challenges and fouls flying both directions. The Galaxy players in particular were very inclined to voice their displeasure with the referee.
HALFTIME: The first forty-five minutes ended with the teams knotted at zeroes. Portland registered just a single (blocked) shot, while the Galaxy managed 11. The Timbers also could manage just 28% of possession... at home.
Out of all of the halves of soccer the Timbers have played... that was certainly one of them.
After the halftime whistle blew, Puig was shown a yellow card for continuing his remonstrations.
46’ The second half got underway with Portland attacking the Timbers Army.
48’ Lucas Calegari was shown a yellow card for a late challenge, becoming the second Galaxy player to go in the book.
55’ Moreno got on the end of a ball at the top of the box after a nice attacking sequence (!!) from the Timbers, but he sent his shot well and high and wide
56’ Pablo Bonilla went into the book after being shown a yellow card for a late challenge on Puig.
57’ The Galaxy rattled the post again, as Rodriguez pinged one off the near post off a free kick.
60’ The referee sure found his cards in the second half, as Tyler Boyd went into the book for LA after clattering into Moreno.
66’ Claudio Bravo is shown a yellow card for stepping on Calegari’s foot.
67’ Portland made the first substitution of the game, as Eric Miller made his Timbers debut, subbing on for Bonilla.
69’ Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but a player was shown a yellow card. This time it was Memo Rodriguez for LA, as he clattered into Bravo to stop what looked to be a nice foray forward from the Timbers.
75’ Double-sub for the Timbers, as Jaroslaw Niezgoda came on for Nathan and Tega Ikoba replaced Moreno.
79’ Marvin Loria went down off the ball, and appeared to be clutching his right hamstring. Portland made their final sub to replace him, introducing Justin Rasmussen to the game.
82’ Jalen Neal was shown a yellow card for attempting to drag back Ikoba on the break. Neal was not successful, but the referee stopped play anyway.
89’ Niezgoda nearly went from goat to G.O.A.T. as a cross from Miller fell to Jaro in the box. Niezgoda’s shot couldn’t beat Klinsmann however, as the LA ‘keeper made the point blank save.
90’ Rasmussen now nearly became the hero, as he collected a shanked clearance at the top of the box — but sent his shot well high and into the stands.
90’+2 Niezgoda got his head on the end of a corner kick, but sent it just wide of the goal.
90’+4 Bingham flew off his line to clear a ball after Preston Judd streaked in behind. Bingham stayed down and immediately grabbed at his, you guessed it, hamstring.
With Bingham unable to continue, and the Timbers out of substitution opportunities, outfield player Justin Rasmussen had to put on the goalkeeper gloves for the final minutes. Thankfully, he wasn’t tested before the game ended.
FULLTIME: Timbers 0, Galaxy 0. The game ended in a goalless draw, despite the wild last-minute push from Portland.
It was an ultimately frustrating afternoon for the Timbers, as they were unable to score in a match for the first time in nearly a year. They did however keep their first clean sheet since the home opener, and picked up their first point since that opening weekend. But in all in all, it was dull affair in the sun and cold at Providence Park.
Portland will next be in action as they head to Texas to face FC Dallas on April 1, at 5:30 p.m. PT.