Winnie the Pooh: Happy Winds-day, Piglet.
Piglet: [being blown away] Well... it isn't... very happy... f-for me.
from "Winnie The Pooh and The Blustery Day," 1968
Somewhere in the bowels of PGE Park, the Portland Timbers have to be feeling a bit like Piglet. With the winds blowing and howling around them in an unseasonably chilly May evening, the Timbers fell to the Montréal Impact 1-0 last night.
Despite a spirited effort and pretty much outplaying a talented 2009 United Soccer League (USL) League Champion Impact team that enjoyed imitating fellow French speaker Thierry Henry in thinking the occasional hand ball is entirely okay, the Timbers simply could not buy a goal.
More and pictures, after the jump.
It all started innocent enough. Joke time was over as the Timbers put on their serious face early in the match after their previous snafus with Crystal Palace Baltimore and AC St. Louis. In a clash of the titans moment, Lil’ Alex Nimo (5’5”) took on towering Montréal midfielder Stephen deRoux (all of 5’9”) in the 14th minute with a gritty defensive track back into Timbers territory to win the ball, deke out deRoux, and clear on upfield. Nimo was sharp in the first half with numerous crosses into the box and helping direct the offense with Ryan Pore—wearing the captain’s armband tonight in place of presumed injured Ian Joy—contributing on the opposite flank.
Then in the 31st minute off a quick build on the left side, Montéal’s Eduardo Sebrango fed an over-the-top through ball to Tony Donatelli who fired it into the left side and it was suddenly 1-0.
The goal—like the winds tumbling over Piglet—seemed to knock the Timbers off their game. Their second half seemed to lack their early match crispness and long balls with little but hope attached as a return address seemed to mail past their destination. Shots were numerous but few seemed to really challenge Impact keeper Andrew Badescu. As a side note, Badescu had an extremely overly cautious proclivity to fall down whenever he caught the ball and an entirely bush league leisurely mode of restarting the game off of stoppages. Plus, I’m pretty sure I saw him in the 62nd minute doing some kind of mime anger demonstration about the intricacies of positioning to his own defenders who quietly ignored him. Perhaps it was a French thing.
Anywho, the Timbers went through the second half with the following events:
-a halftime rainbow
-6,573 people witnessed a clear hand ball in the 68th minute that was somehow blindly ignored by the referee
-Brian Farber hit just wide in the 76th
-a driving rain arrived in the 77th
-James Marcelin headed one off the woodwork in the 81st
After all that, Montréal’s Poor Man’s Jose Mourinho Wall of Defense Strategy combined with a general lack of Timbers finishing finesse around the box meant there would be no joy for the Green and White this evening.
With a road trip on tap to face Crystal Palace Baltimore on Saturday, Portland will have to regain its scoring touch to get back on track and on with the season. Here's hoping that they get some Tigger bounce.
POR: GK Cronin, D Kirk, D Purdy (Lopez, 85), D Danso (Keel, 36), D Cameron, M Nimo (Suzuki, 75), M Marcelin, M Claesson (Josten, 56), M Pore, F Obatola (Farber, 45), F Keita
MON: GK Djekanovic, D Aaboubou, D deRoux, D Gatti (Braz, 85), D Joqueviel, M Hemming (Testo, 72), M Di Lorenzo, M Donatelli (Donatelli, 89), M Billy, F Placentino (Soares, 77), F Sebrango (Byers, 65)
MON: Donatelli (Sebrango), 31
(Lineup and Scoring Summary via Portland Timbers)