LIVE from Goose Hollow, where the Timbers feel like winners.
No, not just because their mothers love them unconditionally. The godsend of a goal that handed Portland its first victory of the year last week finally gave the boys in green something to write home (to their mothers, who love them and just want to hear from them from time to time) about. And as they enter today's matinee against the Los Angeles Galaxy, the Timbers can finally breathe easy.
“Guys are definitely a little bit less tight," said second-year coach Caleb Porter this week after his starting two center backs were spotted by reporters after practice literally horsing around.
So if last week's result is indeed "season-changing"—which Porter suggested, causing PTFC fans to bellow back: "It better be, boss!"—today marks the Timbers' first chance to prove this season will sport an improved trajectory.
Listen, I know what happened last night, Portland. But your mother hates seeing you upset (And so skinny! Here, take these leftovers.) So click past the jump and follow along—as I deftly describe all the action, on and off the pitch.
LA's First XI—(2-2-2, 8 pts)—Jaime Penedo in goal. Dan Gargan, Kofi Opare, Leonardo and AJ DeLaGarza on defense. Juninho, Baggio Husidic, Landon Donovan and Stefan Ishizaki at midfield. Robbie Keane and Rob Friend up front.
Available: Brian Rowe, Samuel Rosa, Gyasi Zardes, Robbie Rogers, Tommy Meyer, Kenney Walker, Raul Mendiola.
Portland's First XI—(1-3-5, 8 pts)—Donovan Ricketts in goal. Jack Jewsbury, Futty, Pa Kah and Michael Harrington on defense. Diego Chara, Diego Valeri, Capt. Will Johnson and Darlington Nagbe at midfield. Gaston Fernández and Steve Zakuani up front.
Riding pine: Andrew Weber, Norberto Paparatto, Kalif Alhassan, Michael Nanchoff, Maxi Urruti, Ben Zemanski.
What a gorgeous morning. Feels like I'm looking at Portland through an Instagram filter.
During a rather odd pregame thing, the PA announcer directed the stadium's attention to the main capo stand and introduced Dan Saltzman. Yep, the Portland city commissioner, who happens to be running for his job at the moment. Fortuitous timing! The announcer lauded some of Saltzman's efforts while he held a scarf in the air long after the announcement was over, seemingly basking in the glow of the closest thing I've ever seen to a political endorsement by Timbers Army. Weird. But hey, it does open up an opportunity for a new chant: "WHEN I VOTE, I VOTE FOR DAN SALTZMAN!"
Aaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnyway, LA enters today's match with as many points as Portland after a similarly innocuous start. They "blew" a 1-0 loss to Colorado last week, according to coach Bruce Arena ("There's no excuses," he added) so expect the Galaxy to play like they've been challenged all week at training. Unsurprisingly, the Timbers have focused this week's practice on limiting Keane and Donovan, a task they've certainly performed ably in the past. No Omar Gonzales in the lineup for LA is a huge edge for Portland. Look for the Timbers to go after Opare a bit.
Today's match will start at 11:53 so you can call your mom. Or run home, grab your ballot and vote for Dan Saltzman. Either way.
Porter walks onto the field in his customary suit, but carrying his scarf. A bit too warm for the neck, maybe? Timbers rocking their superfly green and gold third kits and looking FRESH.
FIRST HALF: Timbers headed toward their Army...and away we go!
2nd—First stop of the afternoon after Harrington is called for handball. Right in the Southwest corner, about 8 yards from the box. Ishizaki sends it in low and Juninho is there for a shot, but MUFFS IT! He gets a second look, but it's blocked and trickles into the arms of Ricketts. Poor clearance by Portland, but they don't pay for it.
4th—Galaxy on their front foot. Donovan sends one into the box for Ishizaki, who slices one high and wide of the goal. Another good chance set up by some fancy footwork by Keane. We have a stop in play as Harrington is down.
6th—Timbers are forced to make an early sub. It'll be Powell for Harrington, who's hobbling off the field and into the locker room. That certainly wasn't in the game plan. Big chance for Powell to shine, and you know LA will go right after him.
7th—DeLaGarza with a cross/shot that Ricketts leaps to grab. Nice effort there by Ricketts, who tracked the ball well after DeLaGarza essentially stole the ball from his own teammate.
9th—Corner for Portland after Zakuani makes a move and finds Jewsbury in the box with some space. He looks for Nagbe, but it's defended over the line. Timbers play in short and Powell plays in a great service, but it's headed over the line. Another corner after a great ball by Powell.
10th—Low corner comes in and Jewsbury gets a sliding leg on it, but no danger. Free kick for LA.
13th—A nice counter by the Timbers fizzles out before they reach the box. A nice ball ahead by Valeri finds Powell, but his return ball is short and knocked away.
14th—Free kick coming. Donovan lining it up. He floats it into Friend, but Kah is there to head it over the line. Corner coming. Ishizaki takes it, and it's headed away by Chara.
17th—Zakuani fouled by Gargan. Quick restart and Nagbe dances around two defenders along the line. He plays it back to Fernandez, who can't quite get to it. Nothing too scary in the end, but some Nagbe showed how dangerous he is right there.
19th—Another handball, this one on Futty and LA will have a free kick about 30 yards out. Ishizaki curls one and it's headed out by a Timber. Corner coming.
20th—Ishizaki sends it in hard and fast and Ricketts collects it. That one was screaming. On the counter, Valeri plays one ahead to Nagbe, who draws a corner. Valeri sends one in and it's headed out by LA. Another corner coming.
21st—Valeri sends it in, but to nobody in particular. It's through the box and out of danger. Portland showing short corners so far today, and their longs ones haven't looked particularly good.
23rd—Ishizaki cracks one from distance, but it's wide. Came out of nothing and had it bent a bit more, would've been unreachable by Ricketts.
24th—Kah gets his feet tangled up with Friend and it'll be a free kick in a dangerous spot for LA.
24th—Ishizaki cracks it far-post, and Jewsbury heads it away. Ishizaki has been playing tight benders all day, looking more and more dangerous.
26th—On a counter, Fernandez with a nice effort to chase down a ball in front of TA. He sends it back to Valeri, who cracks a shot that's deflected off Opare's stomach and into the arms of Pendedo.
27th—Donovan with a great ball ahead to Friend, who makes his way into the box. Great tackle by Kah after a bit of a heavy touch by Friend, and it'll be a corner for LA. Ishizaki goes low and Chara tries to clear, but LA maintains possession.
29th—Friend cracks one from distance, but it's JUST OVER THE BA. Ricketts had to leap for that one, and it was a screamer.
31st—A nice run by Zakuani and he looks for Nagbe in the box. It's popped away by an LA defender and to the feet of Fernandez, who hesitates a bit too long. Might've done better to just have that one, but instead, he's dispossessed by Gargan.
33rd—On the other end, Kah called for a foul after catching Keane in the knee. Free kick coming from about 35 out. It's sent in like a bullet and Friend gets a foot on it, but right to Nagbe.
34th—Valeri has Opare beat in the box after a steal, but Opare recovers and steals it back. Galaxy dodge a bullet on that one. Valeri got caught up a bit trying to step around Opare, who did well to get it back. In the ensuing action, Fernandez comes in too hot on DeLaGarza, and he picks up the first yellow of the match.
36th—Keane and Futty having words, forehead to forehead. They're probably talking about how much they love their moms. LA corner earned after Futty wisely clears a dangerous ball over the line. It comes in hot and lands at the feet of Donovan, but he's as surprised as anyone and can't find it at his feet.
39th—Timbers will have a corner after Powell plays a low ball into the box that's cleared over the line.
40th—Valeri bends it in, but it's knocked away immediately to Donovan. Galaxy bring it all the way down and Keane gets around Powell with a bit too much ease. Keane shoots, but RICKETTS WITH THE SAVE. Keane had a great chance there (though it was left-footed), but Ricketts goes low to grab it. Nothing world class or anything, but a big save nonetheless.
43rd—Jewsbury earns a corner after getting around Ishizaki. Valeri sends it far post, but Penedo is on it.
45th—Another Timbers corner. Zakuani earns it after drawing a double team. Valeri sends it in, headed away by Friend.
One minute of extra time...
HALFTIME: And we're scoreless. First Donovan, then Kah, have a few extra words for the referee. A wide-open first half with plenty of skill on display (Robbie Keane's first touches are particularly ridiculous this afternoon). Feels like Galaxy are the aggressor and Portland is hanging on for dear life a bit.
Expect the Timbers to come out strong after what will undoubtedly be a rousing halftime speech by Dan Saltzman.
Some stats: LA leading possession and duels (both 52.4%) and out-shooting the Timbers 7-2. We've had 11 corners in this one, which seems obscene.
SECOND HALF: Timbers headed south as a slight breeze has picked up...and we're back at it!
46th—No changes for either side. First foul of the half whistled as Donovan runs over Futty on the sideline. Looked like a hockey check.
49th—Zakuani with a steal and run down the sideline. He's got wheels. Maybe too quick there, as he runs ahead of the break. Timbers eventually switch and Powell with a nice run, but LA defends it and knocks it to their bench.
51st—Gargan sends one into the box for Husidic, who cracks a swinging-leg shot that's knocked away. Galaxy earn a free kick just outside the box, Northwest corner. Free kick comes in and RICKETTS PUNCHES IT AWAY. Ends up at the foot of Donovan, who cracks one that's immediately knocked down.
53rd—Timbers with two straight shots, and two straight saves by Penedo. The first when Jewsbury plays a ball to the corner of the box for Valeri, who turns and fires. Rebound ends up with Nabge, who cracks one. Penedo inexplicably leaps for Nagbe's ball, and almost let that one sneak by him.
55th—Powell with a little space after dribbling around Juninho, but then he tries to dribble through three more defenders. It doesn't work out well for him and LA has it. This one has opened up even more.
56th—A stoppage in play and Diego Chara is down in the center circle. Trainers are out to attend to him.
58th—Chara on his feet, but really favoring his left arm. They're wrapping his wrist on the sideline and the Timbers are playing down a man.
59th—Gargan handed a yellow card after coming in too hot on Zakuani. Valeri sends it in and Futty heads it OFF THE POST! What a flick-on header by Futty, but he just misses. The ball bounces to Husidic, who nearly inadvertently knocks it into his own net. Best chance of the afternoon there for Portland. Corner comes in and Johnson attempts a spinning shot, but misses.
63rd—Nagbe leading the break and finds Valeri. He runs along the side of the box looking for space, but his cross is hopeful at best.
66th—Juninho with a shot from distance, but it's no problem for Ricketts.
67th—Chara down again at midfield. He's coming off for the first time in 19th matches. Zemanski will come on.
68th—Johnson with a shot from distance, and Penedo dives to his right to nab it.
70th—Timbers with a free-kick opportunity after Nagbe is fouled at midfield. Timbers take it fast and it's chipped into the box for Zakuani, who's clipped a bit and dispossessed. He thinks he's fouled in the box, but the ref disagrees. During the action, Zemanski was running to the sidelines grabbing some shin guards. Whoops.
71st—Powell with a nice ball into the box for Fernandez, but Leonardo with a strong step and uses his arm to get Fernandez off balance. On the other end, Ishizaki slices one, but it's wide of goal.
72nd—Galaxy sub: Rosa on for Friend.
74th—Gargan with a great cross in front for Husidic, but Powell is there to block it over the line. Corner sent in by Ishizaki, but it's headed away. LA maintains and Husidic with a left-footed volley that's deflected out. Another corner.
75th—It's curled in by Ishizaki and popped up high into the air. The ball lands right at the foot of Juninho, who blasts a curler just right of the goal. Dangerous. Timbers Army held its breath there.
76th—Final sub for Portland: Urruti on for Fernandez. Can last week's hero do it again?
77th—Valeri with a nice ball into the box for Urruti. He gets a great touch on it and attempts a back-heel pass back to Valeri, but it's a tad soft and cleared by LA.
79th—DeLaGarza down after Zemanski came in and basically leveled him. He's back on his feet now, but perhaps a little dazed.
81st—Keane with a curler to Donovan, who chests it down and fires one in. Ricketts is right where he needs to be, though, and goes to the floor to get it.
82nd—A giveaway by Kah and Keane has a shot, but RICKETTS LEAPS FOR THE SAVE. Just got a hand on it to knock it over the bar. Great save there on a nice curling shot by Keane. Corner coming...and nothing doing.
83rd—LA sub: Zardes for Husidic.
84th—Zardes shows his pace and fires a left-footed cross right in front, but nobody in white can get on the end of it. Dangerous ball there.
87th—Timbers earn a corner after Valeri and Nagbe with a bit of back-and-forth into the box. Valeri fires, but it's off the back of Juninho.
88th—Valeri swings it out and Nagbe gets a header on it, but it's cleared ahead by LA. Ends up with Samuel, who looks to shoot, but Jewsbury stands strong and wins a huge challenge in the box. Big-time defensive stand there by the Club Cap'n.
89th—On the other end, Powell runs ahead and beats his man. He passes back to Zakuani, who tries a shot, but it's deflected down. Both teams throwing haymakers now. Soccer!
Five minutes of stoppage...Gargan cuts back on Zakuani and fires a shot, but Kah is there to knock it away. Ricketts was diving for it. Not sure if it was going to be on-goal, but Kah smartly knocks it over the line to make the point moot. Corner swung out and Urruti heads it out of danger....GALAXY GOAL! Keane somehow finds himself alone right in front. A long throw comes into the box, bounces high and Keane heads it in. The Timbers defense was standing there like statues. Yikes. LA leads 1-0...On the other end, Valeri with a shot, earns a corner. Played short and leads to a breakaway. Juninho with it and runs to the top of the box, but NAGBE CATCHES UP AND KNOCKS IT AWAY. No foul there as Juninho goes down at the top of the box...TIMBERS GOAL! Holy shit, they tied it! It's Valeri! Futty with a flick headed into Johnson, who has a great touch in the box. He holds the ball up, spins and finds Valeri, who just hammers it through. Wow, what a finish.
FULL TIME: It's a 1-1 draw. Both goals scored in stoppage time. Crazy finish for Portland, which once again scores a goal in the final seconds to salvage a result.