Not Half Bad, But Not Enough
The Portland Timbers once again failed to find a victory this past Thursday night against the NSC Minnesota Stars, unable to recover from an early goal despite 60 minutes of continuous pressure.
From the first kick, Minnesota made it clear that they wanted to win, out-working the Timbers, pushing the tempo against a confused defense and dominating control of the midfield with a strong presence and sharp passing. It only took 20 minutes for them to finally break through, with Ely Allen skillfully controlling and a 40 yard cross with his chest and burying the ball into the back of the Portland Timbers’ net.
Following the Minnesota goal, the Timbers began to possess the ball better and control the attacking half, creating chances and putting some shots on goal. Just as the visiting side’s energy and passing really began to deteriorate, the ref blew the whistle indicating the end of the half. Portland 0, NSC Minnesota Stars 1.
The second half saw an additional boost of energy from the Portland Timbers team, sparked by the hustle of midfielder Tony McManus, who came on after the break. This energy was threatened in the 52nd minute when Portland midfielder James Marcelin was sent off after committing a foul inside the Timbers’ penalty area, awarding the Stars a penalty kick. However, Timbers Goalkeeper Steve Cronin came through with a massive save on Melvin Tarley’s attempt, and kept Portland’s chances alive.
Cronin’s save fanned the flame of the Portland attack, who, despite having one less player, mounted barrage after barrage against a tiring Minnesota defense for the remainder of the game. If it wasn’t for some fine goalkeeping from Minnesota’s Joe Warren, the Timbers would have easily found the net once, if not twice, with several reasonable chances falling at the feet of Portland’s offense. Despite the effort, when the referee blew his whistle for full time the scoreline read 0-1, and the Timbers had failed to win again.
All things considered, Portland didn’t play half bad. I would even go as far as to say that they played well… for 70 minutes, at least. However, the dreadful start against a feisty and motivated Minnesota side allowed just enough room for them to find the net and go home with three points.
With this loss, Portland Timbers remain in second to last place with 13 points in 12 games.