If the Timbers are to move out of Major League Soccer's basement, their first step might need to resemble a strut.
Swagger has certainly been in short supply around Portland lately, as five straight losses, a shuffled coaching staff and shifting strategies have taken their toll on both the Timbers' confidence and fans' patience. With the season seemingly on the verge of being written off as an unplanned rebuilding campaign, PTFC's newest MO seems to be fakin' it 'til they make it.
“We’ve got to get a little bit of arrogance about ourselves on our home field," said Portland keeper Troy Perkins earlier this week. "We’ve got to have a chip on our shoulder everywhere we go now and really be a little upset with the way people think of us and the way people treat us.”
There's only one way to change those perceptions, and it starts tonight against a Dallas club that hammered Portland 5-0 just two weeks ago. Can the Timbers earn their revenge, and sashay into a two-match, east-coast swing with a bit of bluster?
UPDATE: Portland rallies from a goal down but can't take advantage of a shorthanded Dallas side as the Timbers and Hoops tie 1-1. Portland out-shot Dallas 21-8 and looked dangerous at times, but in the end, as striker Kris Boyd put it post-match, "it's more dropped points at home."
Click past the jump for more on the match, including a running log of the action, final stats, locker room quotes and FULL VIDEO of Wilkinson's post-match presser following his first result as interim head coach. "It's not all roses as such, because we're still not getting the wins," he says. "But we're seeing enough positives in the way that we're starting to play, the changes that are happening, to start to believe that the tide is turning."
PREGAME: It's a warm one here at the Jelly. Mid-90s, I'm told. Luckily, my seat in the press box is situated directly in front of an AC unit. The sun-drenched North End is feeling cool, too, especially after groundskeepers watering the turf turned their hoses on the North End.
FC Dallas—Kevin Hartman in goal. Zach Loyd, George John, Matt Hedges and Jair Benitez on defense. Fabian Castillo, Andrew Jacobson, David Ferreira, Julian de Guzman and Brek Shea. Scott Sealy at forward. Jacobson is FCD's captain and Shea returns from a two-match absence. Hoops sporting red shorts and their traditional red-and-white striped blouses.
Portland—Troy Perkins in goal. Kosuke Kimura, Hanyer Mosquera, David Horst and Steven Smith on defense. Darlington Nagbe, Jack Jewsbury and Diego Chara at midfield. Brent Richards, Franck Songo'o and Kris Boyd up front. Jewsbury is the Cap'n. Same lineup as against Chivas, when Portland showed a bit of offensive flair for the first time in more than a month. Portland in green jerseys and white shorts (though they were all wearing green shorts in warm-ups. Wardrobe change!)
FIRST HALF: And away we go ... Timbers working toward the Army.
1st minute—Dallas gets it into the box and Mosquera quickly clears it out. First throw-in of the night to the Hoops.
3rd—Ferreira flops near midfield after Chara gets close and play will stop for a moment. Timbers with a bit of possession before the whistle. They would've had numbers, but Nagbe's first pass of the night is a bit behind Richards.
5th—Dallas expecting a foul after Chara picks Castillo, but we play on. Chara gets it ahead to Richards breaking into the box, but Dallas defends and clears.
7th—Ferreira with a decent ball into the box that Smith sends over the line. Horst motions like he wanted him to boot it out, but Smith went with the safe play. Corner sent in and headed backward by Dallas. Hoops maintain possession and send it into the box and Horst and Loyd come together in the air.
8th—Looks like Loyd got the worst of it, as he's still down in the box kicking his legs. Horst checks his head for a cut, but he appears unscathed.
10th—Horst levels Ferreira at midfield, and doesn't like the foul call. Things a little chippy as Songo'o and Loyd get a little pushy in front of the Timbers bench after Songo'o draws the foul.
11th—Songo'o sends the free kick toward the left post and Richards gets a header on it, but it's wide left. Richards showed great ability to leap and get to those types of headers against Chivas, and the Timbers look to be trying to exploit that skill again here.
13th—Dallas on the break and Ferreira passes long for Shea, but Perkins just does get to it at the top of the box as Shea throws his leg out for it. Good decision by Perkins to come out. If he hesitates, that's an easy goal for Shea.
14th—Songo'o dancing in front of the North End and sends a cross to the far post for a leaping Mosquera, who just misses the header wide left. Nice service by Songo'o, who looks like he's continuing the form he showed against Chivas.
16th—A botched Smith clearance bounces right to Shea in the box, and he fires it near-post. Perkins is there to make himself big and get in front of it, and it'll be a corner kick for Dallas. Big save by Perkins. Corner kick coming, and it's sent through the pack for a Portland goal kick.
18th—Chara takes it down the east sideline and crosses it in behind Boyd. Richards takes a swing at it's knocked right to Nagbe, who gathers and fires right into Jacobson. The deflection pops out to Jewsbury, who takes another shot. Again Jacobson is there to knock it down and it'll be a throw for Portland from near the corner.
19th—A huge throw into the box from Richards and Songo'o is there, but his shot goes over the crossbar. Portland really putting the pressure on Dallas' defense, which is something that absolutely didn't happen the last two times these teams met.
22nd—Timbers again having no problems getting it into the box, but finishing continues to confound them. Songo'o takes it in and winds up for a shot, but it's deflected down to Chara. He dribbles along the same path and looks to cross, but the attempt is deflected and is turns into an easy clearance for Dallas.
23rd—Songo'o called for a yellow card after a hard foul on Loyd. That'll be a suspension next week for Franck.
25th—Dallas with a corner kick far-post and Loyd gets a header on it, but Perkins knocks it away for another corner.
26th—Corner comes in and is ping-ponged around the box a bit. Perkins tries to punch it out, but Jewsbury finally does the trick with a swinging left-footed clearance. During the fracas, it looks like Kimura took the business end of the Perkins punch, and he'll take a minute to sit on the turf and gather himself.
29th—Songo'o takes a pass from Nagbe and winds up for a shot from about 25 yards, but he's upended by John mid-swing and Dallas clears.
30th—Songo'o gets a step on Loyd and crosses toward Boyd, but his run was a bit late and Hartman is there to gather it in.
32nd—Timbers draw a corner kick after Songo'o does work down the goal line and beats a double team. It comes in low and near-post for Richards, but his attempt to flick it on with a header is knocked away by Loyd.
33rd—Jewsbury looks for Boyd with a long, low pass from midfield, but it's long. Boyd not exactly a factor so far today, but as usual, the Scotsman is only as effective as the service he's getting.
34th—Nagbe fires one to the top corner from 25 yards out, but it slices just left of the frame.
35th—Chara plays a nice ball into the box for Songo'o, who looks for Boyd, but Hedges is there to knock it away.
36th—Chara is fouled at the edge of the arch and it'll be a dangerous free kick coming for Portland. Loyd picks the yellow card and Boyd, Jewsbury and Songo'o are standing over it, about 20 yards out.
37th—Boyd curls one to the right of the wall, but just misses the far post. Hartman gets a hand on it and here comes a Portland corner.
38th—Songo'o sends it in near-post for Richards, but his attempt at a little flick isn't caught flush. Goal kick Dallas.
40th—Richards plays a nice ball to the arch for Jewsbury, who runs in and kicks it in-stride. The Hoops knock it away and on the counter, Ferreira gets ahold of it in the box and shoots, but it's right at Perkins.
43rd—Loyd goes down at midfield and Songo'o is getting a bit of a talking-to from the ref. Now Boyd and de Guzman get into it a bit and on the restart, Loyd straight kicks Songo'o in the back of the leg, right in front the Timbers bench. No call, and Wilkinson throws his hands up.
45th—Nagbe gets it taken away from him, and on the break, Shea fires off a shot that gets past Perkins but just creeps outside of the far post. That would've been a killer for Portland.
One minute of extra time ... Castillo draws a foul as Horst bodies him up in front of the FCD bench. Ball is swung in for Jacobson, but Perkins is there to nab his header.
HALFTIME: We're scoreless. The Timbers outshot the Hoops 9-4, but had only one shot on-goal as Dallas did a great job stepping in front. Possession was virtually even (Dallas led 50.7%) and the Hoops took 58% of the duels. Songo'o is looking strong for the second straight game, and Nagbe's strike from 30 yards out might have been the best opportunity Portland has had so far. But for the Timbers to break what's now a 340-minute scoreless streak, they need to find Boyd in the box. He's simply not getting the service he deserves out there.
And we're back at it ... Timbers working toward the South end. No changes to either side.
46th—Songo'o breaks past three Dallas defenders and up the middle. He fires a shot from the top of the box, but Hartman dives left to grab it. Great effort there by Songo'o, who continues to flash the form that had fans so excited during the preseason.
47th—de Guzman just misses point-blank try after an attempted Shea cross bounces right to de Guzman. Horst might have gotten a deflection, but Perkins will have a goal kick.
49th—de Guzman with a nice ball into the box for Shea, but Kimura recovers from being out of position and makes a nice defensive play to knock it away and knock Shea to the turf.
50th—DALLAS GOAL Nagbe cracks a shot from the top of the box that's deflected and Dallas goes on the break. Ferriera with a great pass free Shea, and as the Timbers defense is nowhere to be found, Shea finds Sealy right in front for an easy goal. Defensive breakdown. Hoops lead, 1-0.
53rd—Zach Loyd picks up his second yellow after a hard foul and that'll be it for him. He gets the red card and the Timbers will play a man up. Huge break for Portland. Can the Timbers take advantage?
56th—Smith tries to get around de Guzman and gets leveled for his effort. Free kick coming from 40 yards out. Dallas will sub in Carlos Rodriguez now for Sealy.
57th—Songo'o sends the free kick into the box and it's over everyone's head. Dallas goal kick coming.
58th—Dallas happy to kick it around and play it backward. They've really dominated the possession since Loyd went out, running a 4-4-1 with Shea out front.
59th—Timbers earn a free kick as Richards is knocked down about 30 yards out. Songo'o sends it in and Hartman jumps up and grabs it. He goes down to the turf after tripping over the pack and Mosquera is jawing with Hartman. Jacobson is down in the box.
61st—Timbers make two substitutions. Bright Dike comes on for Boyd and Danny Mwanga will come on for Richards. Fresh legs at forward for Portland. Dike has been playing a hot hand of late, recently scoring a hat trick in a reserve game a week ago.
62nd—Timbers playing two men up as Jacobson gets himself together on the sideline. Songo'o crushes a shot from 30 yards out, but Hartman is there to punch it away.
64th—Dike calling for the ball up the middle and Smith tries to find him with a swift shot/pass. Whatever it was, it's no threat to Hartman and Dallas will have a goal kick.
65th—Songo'o sends a couple balls into the box, but Dallas defense holds firm. On the second one, Nagbe loses his balance and is called for a handball trying to knock it down.
67th—Shea somehow gets into the box undefended on a Dallas throw, but his shot to the near post goes to Perkins' right and it'll be a Portland goal kick.
68th—Benitez with a giveaway and Dike gets 1-on-1 with Hartman at the top of the box. He dribbles twice and fires, but Hartman is there to jump in front, make himself big and block it. Huge play there for Dallas.
71st—Chara will get a yellow card after fouling Ferreira at midfield. Not the best foul by Chara, who had two teammates standing right behind him and committed the foul right in front of the official.
74th—Goal kick goes past midfield and Horst raises his boot while Shea lowers his head to get it. Shea goes down to the turf in a heap and Horst is apologizing. No malice there by Horst, but Dallas will take as much time as possible here before restarting.
76th—Free kick comes in and Jacobson gets a header on it, but Perkins is there to nab it. He thinks to keeps it from going over the line, but the ref calls for a corner kick. Dallas will make a sub, and it's a familiar face: Former Timber James Marcelin checks in for de Guzman.
77th—Kalif Alhassan enters for Steven Smith. One defender off, one attacking midfielder on. Dallas corner kick is well over everyone's head.
78th—Songo'o beats a defender and takes a shot from the top of the box, but it's immediately knocked down. On the rebound, Songo'o with another chance knocked down and Mwanga strikes another, but Hartman with a huge save to knock it off the post. Corner kick coming for Portland.
79th—TIMBERS GOAL After the Portland corner is knocked out of the box by Hartman, Jewsbury left-foot volleys the rebound into the back of the net. We're tied at 1.
81st—Timbers with another corner and it's sent in short for Songo'o. He crosses in front for Mosquera, but his header is deflected out for another Timbers corner. Nothing doing.
84th—Another Timbers corner played short and cleared by Dallas. The Hoops make a run and it's ahead for Castillo, but his shot is easily gathered in by Perkins. He wastes no time getting it out and spurring a run, but the Timbers can't take advantage as Songo'o collides with a Dallas defender in the box and is called for a foul.
86th—Dike plays one in the box for Chara, but Diego is called offside.
87th—Dallas makes their final sub. It'll be Daniel Hernandez coming on for Castillo.
88th—Songo'o tries to flip one into the box for Dike, but Hedges is there to defend.
89th—Kimura tries a cross as he's taken down by Marcelin on the goal line, but Hartman is there to grab it.
90th—Horst with a steal and attempted shot that's deflected right back down to him. He gathers and unloads again from the top of the area, but it's wide right and into the south end seats.
Four minutes of stoppage ... Kimura with another solid run down the east end, but Hedges defends the cross well and it'll be a goal kick for Dallas ... Ferreira with some crafty work drawing a foul as Mosquera and Chara close on him. Free kick coming from 35 out. ... Dallas plays it back. They're not in any rush. ... Benitez finds Shea at the top of the box and he fires one, but it's well high and wide left. ... Timbers down to their last wave or two here.
FULL TIME: It's a 1-1 draw. Timbers have a man advantage for nearly 40 minutes but can't overcome Dallas' pesky defense. Still, the five-game losing streak is over and Portland can hit the road with at least some confidence; The Portland offense is certainly creating chances, but finishing is the name of the game.
Some final stats: Portland out-shot Dallas 21-8, with seven of those shots on target. Dallas won 54% of the duels, but Portland had 57% of the possession.
"We're still creating a lot of chances," said Perkins. "Just can't put it in the back of the net, I think that's our big problem at this point."
The same can be said for allowing runners into the box unmarked, a defensive lapse that cost the Timbers a goal in the 51st minute.
"It feels that every we mistake we make at the moment, we get punished for," Wilkinson said. "It's just a simple mistake from a defender—not tracking a runner. And we get punished."
Songo'o, who had another masterful performance up front, said the team was expecting to get three points.
"Of course there are positives," he said. "I'd rather play bad and win games."
Still, the Timbers believe they've turned a bit of a corner after a series of disastrous results cost coach John Spencer his job less than a month ago. Jewsbury, whose left-footed volley equalizer was the first Timbers score in more than 350 minutes of play, said it's all about building off two positive performances.
"If you look back at these last two games, the team as a whole fought, battled, created chances and offensively were a lot more organized than maybe we'd been earlier in the year," Jewsbury said. "There are definitely some positives to take, now it's just a matter of turning those positives into three points.
Wilkinson said he was proud of the way his team battled—the Timbers' response was "absolutely brilliant," he said—calling out both Songo'o and Chara for their relentless play. Unlike the last time it shared a pitch Dallas, Portland didn't hang its collective heads when it faced adversity.
"With everything that we've gone through at the moment, it's a tremendous sign that they didn't give up," Wilkinson said. "They continued to try and find a way to win."
Wilkinson's full post-match presser: