Improved play, little solace for Timbers fans
In the train wreck that has become the 2012 Portland Timbers, Saturday’s 1-0 loss to Chivas USA will be a slight blip on Portland’s trip to last place in the 19-team MLS. Despite dominating the play on the outside of the pitch for one of the few times in their MLS tenure, the Timbers were again befallen by poor finishing and mental mistakes.
The lone goal of the match occurred when Danny Califf headed in a Ben Zemanski free kick almost directly on top of the penalty spot. Troy Perkins rushed off his line to try to make a play on the set piece, but was left in no man’s land 10 yards in front of his net.
Perkins has played decent this season despite some suspect defending in front of him, but his decision to go so far off his line was a poor one. The back four for the Timbers held the Goats to just three shots in the second half with Califf’s goal being the only one on target.
Perkins was not the only one to make a mistake that cost the Timbers.
Kris Boyd flubbed on potential open goals twice and stayed offside multiple times when making runs off of teammate’s headers. Boyd’s scintillating left-footed shot in the 81st minute only proved that Boyd is able to put quality shots on goal.
For many games this season, Boyd has been undone by the poor quality of service into his striking position. That was not the case of Saturday. Franck Songo’o and Diego Chara combined for six successful passes in and around the 18-yard box, but none of them resulted in goals.
Songo’o and Chara, along with Brent Richards dominated midfield possession for large chunks of action. Chivas midfield seemed to lack any cohesion when playing defense and struggled with their touch throughout the match.
Making his first MLS start, Richards seemed to be a focal point of Portland’s game plan. On numerous occasions, free kicks were sent towards Richards to head into the area. Chivas fullbacks had little answer for the Timbers Homegrown Player in the air.
The Timbers man of the match was Songo’o, who excelled in tight spaces throughout the matches. All Songo’o’s work set up quite a few chances for both Boyd and Richards. His foul that preceded the Chivas goal was a tough one to concede, but it was likely due to his constant ball pressure in the first 68 minutes of the match.
In the 26th minute, Songo’o swiped Riley of possession and sprinted towards goal to put in a left-footed cross. The play was one of the best all-around plays the MLS Timbers have received from a wing player in their 55-game history.
While there were positives, they will be little consolation for Timbers fans who just witnessed their team drop its fifth straight league match.