LIVE from Goose Hollow, where I don't believe Damian Lillard is in the building.
However! There are a number of professional athletes here (many quite fit) and the opportunity for civic-driven sporting drama is high.
Consider, if you will, a conversation that COULD POTENTIALLY HAPPEN two weeks from now IN THIS VERY CITY:
Portlander #1: "Dude, the Blazers are unreal right now. Can you believe they're in the conference finals? So cray!"
Portlander #2: "Riiiight? And things are looking up for the Timbers, too! Three straight home wins after none in their first eight. Bonkers!"
Portlander #1: "Totally. Say! It sure seems like everything in Portland sports is coming up...Roses!"
Of course, for you to overhear such a convo in line for brunch (and I really hope you do, kids) things need to turn around here in Timberland. As Portlander #2 mentioned, PTFC has gone two months without a victory to start the season, a historically tough spot from which to mount a postseason run.
They've given away late leads. They've only scored nine times. Their owner was apparently bitten by an alligator.
DC, meanwhile, may just follow the '13 Timbers as MLS' U-turn of the year. They're coming of a 4-1 win vs. Dallas and haven't lost since dropping their first two matches. After adding some offseason firepower (including forwards Eddie Johnson—who's out tonight—and Fabian Espindola), a club that won three times all of last year has matched that feat already this season.
Home for their next three, the Timbers have a chance begin Rose-City-rising (too soon?) from the bottom of the table. Calling them desperate might be a bit much, but as Diego Valeri told The Columbian this week, "this situation is a little bit hard."
Just like earning nine points in three games! But hey, crazier things have happened. So click past the jump and follow along, as I deftly describe the action—on and off the pitch.
DC's First XI—(3-2-2, 11 points)—Bill Hamid in goal. Cristian, Bobby Boswell, Jeff Parke, Chris Korb on defense. Chris Rolfe, Nick DeLeon, Davy Arnaud and Perry Kitchen at midfield. Fabian Espindola and Conor Doyle up front.
Available: Andrew Dykstra, Lewis Neal, Steve Birnbaum, Nana Attakora, Michael Seaton, Luis Silva, Alex Caskey.
Portland's First XI—(0-3-5, 5 points)—Donovan Ricketts in goal. Jack Jewsbury, Futty, Pa Kah and Michael Harrington on defense. Diego Chara, Diego Valeri and Capt. Will Johnson at midfield. Darlington Nagbe, Gaston Fernández and Steve Zakuani up front.
Riding pine: Andrew Weber, Norberto Paparatto, Alvas Powell, Kalif Alhassan, Michael Nanchoff, Ben Zemanski, Max Urruti.
Timbers' foil and US National Teamer Eddie Johnson slowed by a hamstring all year, will not have a chance to ruin the TA's evening with a "remember me?" kinda performance. DC will have to lean on fellow striker/offseason addition Espindola, who has four goals and three assists this season (and whose name I may need to remember how to spell).
I walked into Civic Stadium in front of a group of DC supporters, who strolled down Morrison chanting their team's name (among other things). Small group, but impressive volume.
It's a chilly one here with a light wind. A pretty steady rain coming down, but nothing too heavy. Perfect Cascadia footy weather!
FIRST HALF: Timbers headed to the south side...And away we go!
1st—TIMBERS GOAL! Fernández with a circus goal after a great ball from Valeri. Nagbe with a steal a nice ball ahead to Valeri, who brings it down the west sideline. He plays a perfect cross into the box for Fernandez, who beats Hamid to it and flips it to himself before—with his back facing the goal—kicking it over his head and into the net. Wow, so many skillfull things happened on that one. What a start for the Timbers—that's their fastest goal as an MLS club at 34 seconds. Portland leads, 1-0.
5th—Corner kick is slow to come as Valeri is slow to get up. But he appears OK. DC sends it in and it's bounced around in front before a shot comes in, and RICKETTS IS THERE FOR A SAVE. Another corner coming.
6th—Corner comes and Kitchen with header OFF THE BAR! It's back in front and DC manages another shot, but right at Ricketts' belly.
9th—Valeri with another dangerous cross after a run down the west sideline. He puts it into the box but it's behind Chara. Fernandez is there and he turns and shoots, but it's wide left of a diving Hamid.
12th—Fernandez finds Nagbe at the top of the box and the latter tries a right-footed volley, but doesn't get all of it. Goal kick, DC.
13th—Espindola with a free kick from about 40 yards after a Chara foul. It floats in, and is no problem for Ricketts.
15th—Timbers really entrenching themselves in the possession game. Passes on passes on passes right now. DC hanging back, and the Timbers are happy to bide their time and wait for DC to make a bad decision.
17th—Like there. Nagbe is sprung down the west sideline and finds Valeri at the top of the box. He fires a shot, but it's just wide left. Hamid again diving for it.
18th—And now Fernandez with a blast from the top of the box after Valeri brings it down and after some fancy footwork, finds Fernandez. He dribbles through a bit of traffic and quickly fires, but it's into the South end.
19th—DC definitely needs a better nickname. I get it—Manchester United, DC United. But how about The Filibusters? Or the Underwoods? OR PERHAPS NAME THE FRANCHISE AFTER A RACIAL SLUR?!
21st—UNITED GOAL! What's in a name? Arnaud crushes one from 40 yards out and it appears to be slightly deflected by Chara. That causes a super-weird spin, and Ricketts is caught flatfooted. We're level at 1.
23rd—After a hard foul on Nagbe. Valeri lines up a free kick from 40 yards out. He sends it to the middle and Futty gets a head on it, but it's no threat.
27th—Valeri takes pass from Nagbe and gets a bending shot away from the right post, but Korb is there to block it. Might've saved a goal there.
32nd—Valeri with a screamer into the box for Fernandez, but Boswell just leaps to head it away. That would've been another goal from Portland. Valeri is clearly feeling it tonight.
33rd—Jewsbury breaks into the box after a Nagbe pass and fires from a tough angle. Hamid cuts it off, though, and clears it away. Another good chance there for Portland. Trainers coming out to talk to Hamid, who collided with Jewsbury and appears to have a but above his right eye.
36th—Hamid sporting a headband-like wrap around the forehead and we're back in action.
38th—First corner of the match for Portland. TIMBERS GOAL! Its Futty with a sliding right footer! Valeri sends in a screamer just to the right of the spot and Futty is there to knock one past Hamid. Great goal by Futty—great skill shown there by a center back, especially one wearing a defender on his arm. Timbers lead, 2-1.
45th—Corner coming for DC as Harrington heads it over the line. Good thing he did, as Espindola was lurking right behind him. Corner is sent in and Portland survives one botched clearance to get it out of danger.
Two minutes of stoppage...Espindola with a free kick from 35 out. He chips it in and Ricketts is forced to pop it two-handed over the bar. Corner sent in and Jewsbury ends up with it, but only for a moment...
HALFTIME: Timbers lead 2-1 after an eventful first half. Two great goals for PTFC, including the fastest in Portland MLS history. Some stats: Portland had 51% of the possession, but it certainly felt like more. Nine shots each for both sides, but Portland won nearly 62% of the duels.
SECOND HALF: Timbers headed toward their Army...and we're back at it!
48th—After a series nifty touches and passes, Valeri earns a free kick about 35 yards out, 10 yards from the corner of the 18-yard box. He sends it in, nothing doing.
49th—DC with a free kick about 45 out. Espindola sends a dangerous ball in and Ricketts rises to punch it away. He looks like he might've taken a knock in the ribs, and is slow to get up.
52nd—Timbers on the counter and Valeri finds Zakuani, who's called offside. Close call there, and the replay draws groans from Timbers Army.
54th—Handball called on DC about 25 yards out, just outside the top of the circle, straight on. Nagbe earned it with some gutsy dribbling through a few defenders. His through-ball attempt caught Boswell's arm Will Johnson blasts one into the wall, and knocked down.
55th—Cross sent back into the box for Futty, but his header goes just wide.
58th—DC putting some sustained pressure on Portland. Another corner sent in near-post, but knocked away.
59th—A penalty kick is called, then overturned. You don't see that every match. Initially it was called that Futty got a hand on a DC cross, but he was livid and went running at the linesman claiming it hit his head. He must've convinced him, and the linesman must've convinced the head referee, as the call is reversed.
62nd—Zakuani goes cutting to the box and fires a great shot through traffic, but Hamid is there dive and make a fantastic save. That shot was screaming, and Hamid tracked it through a few bodies.
63rd—Rain is really coming down now.
66th—DCU making the match's first sub: Neal for Doyle.
68th—Nagbe powers his way into the box after a nice little chip from Fernandez. Nagbe works his way past three defenders and Hamid comes running off his line. Nagbe avoids Hamid and fires a shot, but it's in the side netting.
69th—Timbers sub: Alhassan for Zakuani.
70th—Espindola and Will Johnson having some words and are separated. Capt. Will is fired up, as per usual.
71st—Another DC sub: Silva for Arnaud.
76th—DC sub: Caskey for DeLeon.
78th—Corner for DC—their eighth. UNITED GOAL! They equalize on a header by Cristian. Espindola sends a nice ball in and Cristian has a free shot on goal. Ricketts has no chance as the ball slams into the side netting. We're tied at 2.
82nd—Fernandez sends a cross into the box for Kitchen, who has it in a dangerous spot before Futty ably dispossesses him.
83rd—Timbers sub: Urruti on for Jewsbury. I believe that's you call an "offensive substitution." BTW, for those scoring at home, the DC goal has been changed to an own-goal by Futty.
86th—Huge back-to-back chances missed by the Timbers. After a Will Johnson shot is of the mark, Alhassan plays for Valeri, who knocks it down for Nagbe. He spins and leaves it for Fernandez, but his shot sails on him. Fernandez is pissed and kicks Hamid's water bottle into the ad board. Meanwhile, Espindola shown a yellow card.
90th—Some nice buildup for Portland. Nagbe finds Valeri at the top of the box, but his shot goes wide left.
Four minutes of stoppage...Valeri plays one into the box for Futty, who settles and pokes it to Fernandez. He gets a shot away, but HAMID WITH THE SAVE...Silva shoves Chara to get a little space for a shot, but it's no problem for Ricketts...One more chance for Portland. It'll be a corner. Valeri sends it in and it's knocked out by Nagbe. Back into the box and TIMBERS GOAL! Urruti with a stunner in the final seconds of the match!
FULL TIME: Timbers win 3-2 on a stunning goal in the fourth minute of stoppage time. Wow, what a weekend for sports dramatics in Portland. First Lillard, now Urruti with last-second game-winners. ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?! The Timbers have their first win of the season, and what a way to get it. Once again, there's a party in Portland.
PORTER'S POSTGAME PRESSER: