Craig Mitchelldyer/Portland Timbers

After the many trials and tribulations of the last two weeks, the hope โ€” the expectation, really โ€” was that the Portland Timbers would take the opportunity afforded by a rare Wednesday night tilt to get stuck into FC Dallas and get their 2016 season back on track.

Instead, the Timbers face-planted. And in spectacular fashion.

After less than half an hour, the defending champions were down 3-0 on their vaunted home turf through a series of mishaps both comical and infuriating. The Timbers looked tired, lazy, and disinterested. Dallas' work was made easy.

Portland was trailing inside four minutes. Maxi Urruti โ€” returning to Portland for the first time as an opposing player โ€” nicked the ball off of Jack Jewsbury in midfield. Six seconds later, the ball was in the back of the net courtesy of Michael Barrios.

Twenty minutes later, the train-wreck repeated itself โ€” a ponderous Jewsbury caught in possession by the hard-pressing Urruti. Fabian Castillo would be the beneficiary this time, and Dallas had three soon there after when Tesho Akindele squeezed a rebound shot past a combination of Adam Kwarasey and Alvas Powell on the goal-line.

Jewsbury, ever the professional, took full responsibility for the defeat after the game. But make no mistake: while his two mistakes were killer blows, they were just symptoms of an overall performance that was rotten to its core.

There was no organization, no urgency, and outside of a handful of reliable players, precious little fight. With Ned Grabavoy starting in place of Darlington Nagbe, Portland's 4-2-3-1 most represented a glob โ€” no attacking width, no space in the middle of the field, and no options for the likes of Jewsbury.

In hindsight, Porter's deployment of a team laden with older players on two days rest seemed daft. But he had few options, and the players he did โ€” ten of whom have played in MLS Cup โ€” let him down.

Lucas Melano looks more and more every day like a player who will cruelly never be able to think as fast as he can run. Grabavoy might be washed up anyway, but he was miserably out of his depth as a right winger โ€” and thanks to a clumsy knee-high challenge on Carlos Gruezo, he's facing a suspension for his trouble.

Alvas Powell has been checked out mentally for weeks. His obvious lack of effort on Wednesday was appalling, and not entirely surprising. Powell's ego has gotten him in trouble over the years โ€” see his episode with the Jamaican national team last summer โ€” but he's always responded well when called out.

It's time for Porter to send a message. Taylor Peay should start on Saturday. Of course, Peay could also be used at center-back, where Jermaine Taylor has been an absolute grease-fire in place of Liam Ridgewell.

Craig Mitchelldyer/Portland Timbers

It was Taylor's lackadaisical pass that began the sequence that led to the first Dallas goal, and besides his total inability to distribute, the veteran's lack of positional awareness has consistently left Nat Borchers in the one defensive spot he struggles โ€” isolated one v. one in transition.

This defensive meltdown came against a Dallas team without Mauro Diaz. And while individual mistakes were to blame for two of the goals, there were gaping holes in Portland's defense all night. The right side of the line, matching up Grabavoy, Powell, and Taylor against Castillo, was a carnival.

Portland's defense is terrible right now, and that's the major difference between the start of this season and the start of 2015. Along with the New York Red Bulls, the Timbers have conceded the most goals in the league, and, perhaps more importantly, the first goal in five straight games.

But it's one thing to come out slow on the road. It's quite another to come out slow at home, and then register zero response to going one, two, and three goals behind.

Fanendo Adi battled. Diego Valeri was tremendous. And Borchers didn't stop playing until he was left in need of stitches after a clash with the brutish Maynor Figueroa. Outside of that, though, the Timbers appeared content to get pummeled.

For the first time, the Timbers really are missing Will Johnson's fire and brimstone leadership. Portland need players who are intense and hungry. They need to start taking control of games again.

Wednesday night was flat-out embarrassing. Porter and Jewsbury both recognized that and apologized for it.

Long-term, there is no need to panic. Chris Klute is a keeper, and Darron Mattocks is going to produce. Down the road, the Timbers first-choice team is still an excellent one. But right now, it's about the players who are available showing up and doing their jobs with pride.

Of course, a handful of players did nothing wrong on Wednesday night. But as the playoff run last year showed, it takes everyone to win โ€” and the Timbers don't have total buy-in right now.

We've been waiting a month now for this team to wake up. We thought that maybe the first loss of the season would do the trick, or maybe the pummeling in Orlando. Porter himself thought that the butchering of Nagbe could very well have that silver lining.

Now though, the Timbers have hit a new low. The good and bad news is, their chance to respond will come immediately: Saturday night, at home, against the San Jose Earthquakes. They best show up.