LIVE from Goose Hollow, where the Timbers host Chivas USA and Portland *might* want to start winning some games.
No pressure, fellas (just a suggestion!), but the panic(!) level in the North End has officially reached nervous-finger-tapping as the surprise team of 2013 is the head-scratcher of this go 'round. The Timbers are without a victory behind an offense that's so far been pleasing to the eye (and only incrementally potent on the scoreboard) and a revolving-door defense that's given up a league-worst 10 goals.
The other Western Conference side that's yielded double-digit scores? The Goats, who aren't exactly riding high after four straight winless matches, but aren't quite the doormat most expected them to be this season.
Lovers of defensive soccer, turn your eyes away from this one: Two sides desperate for victory might be the makings of a shootout. And hey, someone's gotta win, right? (No, in fact, they don't...because soccer). No matter—click past the jump and follow along, as I deftly describe the action—on and off the pitch.
Chivas' First XI—(1-2-2, 5 pts)—Dan Kennedy in goal. Carlos Bocanegra, Andrew Jean-Baptiste, Eric Avila and Eriq Zavaleta on defense. Thomas McNamara, Carlos Alvarez, Agustin Pelletieri, Mauro Rosales, Leandro Barrera at midfield. Erick Torres up front.
Available: Marco Delgado, Donny Toia, Kristopher Tyrpak, Adolfo Bautista, Tim Melia, Bobby Burling, Luke Moore.
Portland's First XI—(0-2-3, 3 pts)—Donovan Ricketts in goal. Alvas Powell, Futty, Pa Kah and Michael Harrington on defense. Diego Chara, Diego Valeri and Capt. Will Johnson at midfield. Max Urruti, Darlington Nagbe and Kalif Alhassan up front.
Riding pine: Andrew Weber, Gaston Fernandez, Jack Jewsbury, Ben Zemanski, Michael Nanchoff, Frederic Piquionne.
It's a drop-dead gorgeous night at Providence Park. Chamber of Commerce skies and mild temps, FTW.
Ricketts returns from a two-game suspension while Timbers coach Caleb Porter adjusts his backline. The Great Wall of Gambia returns to action as Kah and Futty will attempt to hold down the middle. Powell proves not to be just a one-time sub, earning his spot in the lineup over Jewsbury.
Timbers Army with a pretty standard (by their standards) tifo display: White placards across eight sections, intersected by a red section one in the middle and a banner that reads: "Show Racism The Red Card." Yeah, getouttahere!
Timbers sporting their first-choice green jerseys and white shorts. Chivas looking sharp in its blue shorts and white-striped blouses.
FIRST HALF: Timbers headed to the South side...and away we go!
1st minute—Futty collides with Torres and we'll have our first foul and free kick the night. Just about 15 yards inside the midfield line. Rosales sends it in low and Powell heads it away.
3rd—Alhassan gets around Bocanegra and dribbles down the west sideline. He sends in a dangerous cross toward Valeri, but Kennedy comes out and punches it away. Alhassan continuing his impressive play with a nicely played cross that at the very least raised Kennedy's blood pressure.
4th—Carbon-copy look for Chivas on the other end: Dangerous cross from the sideline cleared away by Portland.
5th—Valeri fouled just inside midfield as Pelletieri executes an horsecollar-like tackle. Free kick sent in, but nothing doing.
6th—Chivas earns the first corner of the match after a ball's deflected off Powell and over the line. At midfield, Bocanegra is on the sidelines changing his shoes, so Portland is playing up a man. Goats are taking their time with the free kick to give their captain time to change his boots.
7th—TIMBERS GOAL! Will Johnson! Alhassan floats a ball to the top of the box that hits Avila in the back. Nagbe ends up with it and knocks a nifty little pass between two defenders to Johnson at the top of the box, and Portland's captain sends it low and left past a diving Kennedy. Just under the Chivas keeper's right hand, and Portland has a 1-0 lead. Just the start PTFC was looking for—for the first time in six matches, the Timbers have struck first.
10th—Chivas corner comes in just over Urruti's head and Jean-Baptiste gets a head on it, but it's over the bar. AJ-B showing the athleticism Portland fans remember him for there, but no damage done.
13th—Portland earns its first corner of the match after a Valeri cross is touched by Urruti, but knocked over the line by a Chivas defender. Corner comes in, and the Goats clear right away.
14th—Alhassan with a great ball ahead to Powell. He dribbles into the box and tries to get around AJ-B, but the latter stones him. Great takeaway there. Expect Jean-Baptiste to be a key part of this one: He's an emotional player, and returning to the team that let him go will likely lead to either a great—or disastrous—performance. So far, so good.
19th—Chivas earns another corner. Rosales lining it up and there's enough jockeying for position in the box that the ref is having to break it up. Now Torres is sitting on the ground. EVENTUALLY, Rosales curls his corner into the box and Ricketts punches it away two-handed.
22nd—Some nice buildup by Chivas fizzles out as Jean-Baptiste sends a poor cross into the box. Best offensive flow of the night for the Goats so far. And that's not really saying much.
24th—Long cross to the far post for Barrera, but his volley attempts is immediately knocked away by Futty.
25th—Urruti rips one at the top of the box and Kennedy is forced to dive and knock it away. All started with a nice defensive play by Chara, and eventually, another nice pass by Nagbe. Urruti deftly turns and spins between two defenders and fires, but Kennedy just gets a glove on it. Corner kick coming for Portland.
26th—Valeri mis-hits the corner into the side of the net (*sad trombone sound*). Goal kick for the Goats.
31st—Urruti tries to dribble through the entire Goats defense and nearly does it, but he's finally dispossessed at the top of the box.
35th—Some buildup by Portland leads to a crack from Johnson, but it's in the side of the net. Decent look for Johnson there, and the Timbers are establishing themselves once again after a post-goal lull.
38th—Valeri sends a ball into the box for Powell, who races Kennedy to it...and loses the footrace. Wouldn't have mattered, as the offside flag was up. But yet another lovely pass from Valeri, who does that.
39th—First yellow of the match, and it's on Harrington. He fouled Rosales near east sideline.
40th—Nagbe dribbles from midfield and retreats a bit to the sideline (as Urruti runs waaaay offside). Nagbe maintains possession looking for space and is eventually shoved to the ground by McNamara. Free kick coming from 30 yards, just in front of the Chivas bench.
41st—Valeri sends a dangerous curler to the back post, and Kennedy rises to grab it.
43rd—Cross comes into the box and jams up Johnson, who can't clear it. He chases it down, however, and is able to clear it over the line. Corner coming for Chivas.
44th—Corner comes in and ends up with Avila, who hits a weak shot toward goal. Ricketts is there to easily stomach it.
One minute of stoppage...Timbers have numbers and Valeri finds Urruti, but he's offside. Both he and Johnson got behind the defense, but a bit too far behind...Nagbe called for a foul(!) and it'll be a free kick from just inside midfield. Rosales sends it into the box and Ricketts leaps to grab it, colliding with Torres. Both are still down as the whistle blows.
HALFTIME: Timbers lead 1-0 after an early goal from Will Johnson.
Some stats for ya: Chivas wins nearly 57% of the possession and 49% of duels. Portland wins the shooting tally 4-2 and has 11 fouls to the Goats' 6.
Portland's defense has looked improved in this one with Ricketts back between the posts and the Gambian Connection in the middle. The Goats keep coming at Powell, and so far, the youngster is showing why he's earned a start over Jewsbury.
No changes at the half. Both Torres and Ricketts are back out there, apparently unscathed after their stoppage-time collision.
SECOND HALF: Timbers headed toward their Army...and we're back at it!
46th—Portland earns a dangerous free kick, straight on about 35 yards out. Nagbe set it up with some nice dribbling around Avila and found Valeri, who was chopped down.
47th—Johnson nukes it into the fifth row of Timbers Army. Can't blame the guy who's already scored tonight for having one there.
50th—Torres gets into the 18 and cuts back to fire one toward the goal, but it's wide to the near side. No worries for Ricketts and it'll be a goal kick.
53rd—Chivas earns a corner after Barrera knocks one off Johnson. The whole thing set up by some mysterious dribbling from Futty. Corner comes in and is popped out. McNamara has a go at it, but Valeri is there to throw his body in front of it, knock it down and spring a counter. He runs ahead and looks for Urruti in the box, but his pass it just past a diving Urruti.
55th—Pace picking up here. Urruti caught offside twice in a row as Portland starts to press for that second goal.
57th—Torres with a very dangerous ball in the box for Rosales, but Kah is there to defend it. Chivas has a corner and sends it in back post, but Ricketts is there to punch it away.
59th—Kah takes a boot from Rosales on the sideline and he's slow to get up. Timbers will have a throw...which must mean there was a foul on Rosales there, because it clearly went off Kah.
61st—Alvarez gets the ball in the 18 but his shot leaves something to be desired. He must've been in an awkward stance because that attempt clearly wasn't caught cleanly.
62nd—Timbers go to the bench: It'll be Fernandez for Alhassan.
64th—McNamara goes down holding an ankle. There didn't appear to be anyone around him, which is scary for Chivas. Stretcher comes out immediately. He might've just tried to plant and turn, and went to the ground immediately. He's being carted off and holding his face. Not good for the rookie.
65th—Delgado will come on to replace McNamara, who was carried straight to the locker room.
67th—Avila fouls Nagbe right in front of the Timbers bench. He sort of jumped on his back and might have caught him with an errant hand, and that'll be enough for a yellow card.
68th—Here comes another yellow. This one on Chara. Barrera was coming down the left side with a head of steam and Chara came in hard and late. Easy call.
72nd—Another corner for Chivas earned by Barrera. Rosales sends it in and it's headed by AJ-B but poked away. Alvarez attempts a volley from straight on, but it's well into the seats.
74th—Nice tackle by Kah there as Torres brings it into the 18. Chivas has a throw and Kah and Torres collide. Foul on Kah and a dangerous free kick coming for the Goats.
75th—CLOSE CALL! Free kick comes in and is deflected by Johnson. Torres knocks it back into the box and it's floated toward the upper corner of the net, but Ricketts is there to reach and grab it. It nearly goes over the line, but Johnson sends it away. Best chance in a while for Chivas, and Portland survives.
76th—On the other end, Chara sends a dangerous ball across the front of the goal for Nagbe, but it's a bit too tall for him.
78th—Timbers with a free kick from 35 yards, straight on. Valeri sends it toward the net and Kennedy moves to his right and knock it down for the save. Easy pickings for Kennedy there.
79th—CHIVAS USA GOAL! Torres completely unmarked at the end of a Barrera cross and finishes to equalize. Set up by AJ-B, who pokes one ahead to Barrera. He battles with Powell (as he has all game) and breaks free to find enough room to cross. Torres was all alone in front of the net and Ricketts has no chance. We're tied at 1.
80th—Before we get going again, Jean-Baptiste goes down at midfield and the stretcher comes out. But AJ-B waves off the stretcher and instead walks to the sideline. Boos ensue.
83rd—Timbers with quite a bit of possession until the ball goes to Harrington, who hears footsteps and lets it over the line. Chivas ball.
84th—Nagbe dribbling ahead and finds Valeri. He's 1-on-1 with AJ-B and tries to hit a low cross for Urruti. It's headed his way, but Bocanegra is there to knock it away.
85th—Yellow card for Avalrez well after Delgado levels Nagbe sans whistle. Make-up call?
86th—Fernandez with a nice ball into the box for Johnson, whose first touch is a tad heavy. His momentum carries him into Zavaleta, and the pair go to the turf as Kennedy slides to grab it. Timbers Army wants a call, but probably a good no-call there from the ref.
88th—Barrera down in the Northeast corner. Timbers Army crying foul as the clock ticks away. Chivas will make a sub: Tyrpak for Barrera.
90th—Urruti hustles to pressure Zavaleta and earn a throw deep in Chivas' end. Another Goats sub: Burling on for Torres.
Six minutes of extra time...Fernandez chopped down right at the top of the box and it'll be a dangerous free kick for Portland...Huge opportunity here...Will Johnson sends it in and IT'S OFF THE POST! He curls it around the wall and misses by less than a foot. Kennedy had no chance at that one, but Johnson's strike is juuuuuuuust wide....Nagbe rushes ahead and goes to Fernandez, who attempts a backheel—to nobody in particular. Nagbe certainly wasn't making a run that direction, so must've been a miscommunication.
FULL TIME: It's a 1-1 draw. A little quiet in here as Portland allows a late-ish goal and can't quite find the game-winner late. Three points allude the Timbers yet again, and this won't sit well with anyone in the locker room. Another draw that feels more like a loss.
Speaking of, I asked Porter if that's how it felt to him to kick off his postgame presser: