For the third time in four games, the Portland Timbers were able to battle back and earn a tie, coming away from their game with the Colorado Rapids on Saturday March 30th with one point after the 2-2 result.
Field captain Will Johnson scored both goals for the Timbers in the second half on a blustery night at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. The Timbers shaky defense once again put them in an early hole forcing the team to battle from behind to earn a result.
Dillon Powers opened the scoring for the Rapids in the 18th minute with hard drive from almost thirty yards that Timbers goal keeper Donovan Ricketts could do nothing about. Early in the second half a bad giveaway by the Timbers in front of the goal allowed Tony Cascio to walk in all alone on Ricketts. Ricketts came off his line to stuff the ball on Cascio’s foot, but Diego Chara clipped Cascio from behind at the same time, earning a penalty call. Hendry Thomas calmly converted the penalty in the 48th minute for the two goal lead.
But the Timbers once again battled back. In the 55th minute Ryan Johnson was unmarked on the sideline deep in the Rapids end and sent a beautiful cross onto the head of Will Johnson who was streaking in all alone on the Rapids goal. Johnson buried his header and gave the Timbers new life.
In the 71st minute a Diego Valeri corner kick found David Horst on at the far post and defender Atiba Harris made a clumsy attempt to defend Horst, earning a penalty call. Will Johnson insisted on taking the kick and blasted the ball inside the left post for his second of the night and the tie.
After four games the Timbers find themselves in seventh place in the MLS Western Conference with three points coming from three draws. They are still looking for their first win of the 2013 season.
David Horst replaced Mikael Silvestre in central defense, but it didn’t seem to help much as the Timbers once again looked suspect on the back line, especially in the middle. Youngster Andrew Jean-Baptiste also struggled throughout the game. Shaky play and conceding bad goals continue to haunt coach Caleb Porter and his team.
Diego Chara, who was shown a yellow card in the 12th minute, was lucky to not see red on his late challenge from behind on the penalty call.
The Timber offense was almost non existent for stretches of the game. Once again they often controlled ball possession but were unable to put together many dangerous chances. Playmaker Diego Valeri was a non-entity for most of the game and Darlington Nagbe was substituted at half time, leading to speculation that the ankle sprain he suffered in Seattle my not be fully healed. Ryan Johnson, the Timbers striker did not record a shot all evening, but did have the assist on Will Johnson’s first goal. Frenchman Frederic Piquionne saw his first real stretch of action when he came on for Nagbe and recorded one shot.
Coach Porter sent out a defensive line-up to start the match, with Chara Will Johnson and Jack Jewsbury lined up behind Ryan Johnson, Valeri and Nagbe.
Goalkeeper Ricketts made an out standing save in the 64th minute, to keep the Timbers alive, extending himself far to his right to deflect away a hard shot from the top of the box. His effort has been nominated for Save of the Week by MLS. Go here to see it.
The Timbers next match is at home on Saturday April 6th against the Houston Dynamo.
Man of the Match
There is no question who earns MOM this week. Will Johnson was the only really bright spot in a lackluster performance by the Timbers. Johnson basically carried the team on his back to the tie, leading the team with 4 shots and playing strong defense. His two goals showed his willingness to do whatever it takes to earn the result.