I dont remember this part in the script.
  • Allison Andrews
  • I don't remember this part in the script.

There was an operatic murder tonight at PGE Park. The Portland Timbers were well on their way to producing a beautifully constructed bel canto with midfielder Alex Nimo as maestro leading excellent performances from defender Ian Joy and midfielder Ryan Pore with striker Bright Dike and defender Stephen Keel in solid supporting roles. With a 1-0 Timbers lead into second half stoppage time, Keel could be seen appealing to his adoring audience for approval and a Fat Lady was spotted near the center circle preparing her final aria.

It was at this point that Carolina RailHawk Etienne Barbara—henceforth known as the Evil Maltese Falcon—made a last minute mad dash on stage stealing the ball, rushing down the middle, centering it for teammate Daniel Paladini who somehow snapped the ball past diving Portland keeper Steve Cronin.

Horrified, we in Timbers Army watched as Paladini taunted and pantomimed motioned to Timber Joey to cut him a slab of wood. At the center circle, the Fat Lady was seen slumping to the ground, blood pouring from her neck and the match left at a 1-1 tie.

More performance notes, photos, and perhaps additional strained operatic metaphors after the jump.

The performance started energetically enough with the Timbers building off of their recent win against world-class Boca Juniors by controlling the pace of the first half. As early as the 5th minute there was virtuoso backheel passing from Dike to fellow striker Mandjou Keita which then slid on to Nimo who unleashed a shot just over the bar.

Dike—most likely an operatic bass voice—used his league debut in the starting eleven to showcase a solid presence on ball. RailHawks literally bounced off him and he showed poise with a blistering shot in the 23rd minute and a hustling steal leading to a breakaway shot just wide of the goal in the 25th.

Nimo—tenore spinto perhaps?—kept up his caballeta-like passing throughout the first half thoroughly vexing the RailHawk defense. Their frustration led to a flurry of fouls and hard tackles as half time approached.

Buckets of rain arrived with the match’s intermission but upon presentation of the game’s second stanza, the Timbers again came out controlling play and pace. Finally in the 61st minute, Dike found Pore flying pizzacato-like down the left side who then expertly placed a rolling shot inside the far post. Celebrations and bravos punctured the humid air from the adoring crowd.

  • Allison Andrews
  • Bravissimo!

Five minutes later however, the RailHawks countered with the aforementioned Evil Maltese Falcon: forward Etienne Barbara. A member of the minnow-like Malta National Team, Barbara made an immediate impact with slicing runs into Timbers defense and a few quality shots on target. He and fellow second half Carolina sub, Daniel Paladini, would prove the Timbers’ undoing with their back-breaking crescendo of the tying goal seconds from the final whistle.

Its probably best not to taunt a man with a live chainsaw.
  • Allison Andrews
  • Hey Paladini, it's probably best not to taunt a large man with a live chainsaw.

As a Portland ensemble piece, there were lots of good notes to be gleaned from tonight’s match. Ian Joy had a great effort from the back line holding steady defensively and also quickly leading counter attacks into the offensive zone. Keel—his unfortunately timed early bird celebration not withstanding—was again a menace to Carolina. Defender Ross Smith continued his strange sartorial choice of rolling his shorts up but was in great position for a RailHawk bicycle kick in first half stoppage time that he headed off the goal line.

All in all, the Timbers outplayed, outshot, and outperformed while picking up a point from a pretty good RailHawk squad. Despite this, disappointment was rampant after the dramatic RailHawk re-staging of the finale. The Timbers curtain call around PGE Park was short and genuine but also perfunctory. Victory and glory was in their grasp and somehow, in a refrain that has been all too familiar this season, the third act fell apart. With two more matches this week on the road against Austin Aztex and Miami FC Blues, impresario Gavin Wilkinson will be looking to quickly improve his team’s repertoire.

I liked my ending better. The one where we win.
  • Allison Andrews
  • I liked my ending better. The one where we win.

Hat tip to Opera America and their great glossary.

Additional Recaps:
Dropping Timber - with post-game video interviews
The Offside: Timbers
Soccer City USA
Portland Timbers

POR: GK Cronin, D Kirk, D Keel, D Smith, D Joy, M Nimo, M Marcelin, M McManus, M Pore, F Keita (DeMartin, 78), F Dike (Josten, 72)

CAR: GK Reed, D Bobo, D Schulte, D Hayes, D Lowery, M Franks (Paladini, 66), M Gardner, M Davidson, M Elenio (Budnyy, 82), F Bundu (Barbara, 66), F Richardson (Watson, 71)

Scoring Summary:
POR: Pore (Dike), 61
CAR: Paladini (Barbara), 90
Attendance : 8,119

(Stats courtesy of Portland Timbers)