Missed opportunity for Portland Timbers in draw with LAFC at home

Portland Timbers (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
Portland Timbers (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

The Portland Timbers need to capitalize on their opportunities

The Portland Timbers hosted LAFC at Providence Park on Sunday evening, and with the starting IXs looking a little uneven, disappointedly left three points on the pitch in stoppage time.

This Portland squad has gone through several Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde moments this season. As the high scoring Timbers of mid-September to mid-October don’t appear to be the same squad taking the field as of this past couple of weeks.

It was a hard-fought match, which saw several adjustments from the host squad, an attacking mindset, and the willingness to distribute the ball as needed to score. But, at the final whistle, Portland was left with only one point and pretty much in the same position in the western conference standings as they were when the day started.

While LAFC on the other hand made club history and continued to get their young players first-team minutes while they headed back down south with a point of their own.

Fresh faces make history for LAFC

LAFC has been playing with a mix of relatively new and unused players the past couple of weeks after losing several key players to international duty and others to injury. Though it is very obvious that this isn’t the same high caliber team from 2019, they still find themselves in fourth place out west, with a starting IX featuring teenagers and veterans alike.

The lone Los Angeles goal came in stoppage time, as Kwadwo Opoku (19-years-old) and Christian Torres (16-years-old) linked up deep in Portland’s backfield for a damaging blow to the Timbers hopes at three points.

With his late dagger, Torres became the youngest player to score for LAFC in its short history, but what should be taken away from their road trip, aside from a point of course is the valuable playing time against one of the league’s best. Los Angeles has done a tremendous job of adapting to all that has been thrown at them while continuing to stay competitive during the season.

Their enduring efforts have them currently nestled in fourth place in the western conference, with a trio of clubs only a point behind them. They return home to Banc of California Stadium on Sunday for the latest installment of El Trafico, as they welcome a struggling LA Galaxy squad for a potential three points to separate them from the middle of the conference standings.

Timbers need to capitalize

A 1-1 draw against a pretty depleted LAFC squad surely hurts, especially knowing that three much-needed points were left on the pitch. But a hard-fought defensive effort per head man Gio Savarese’s standards, against the league’s best attack (2.29 goals per game) is nothing to worry about.

Tough, the Timbers had several opportunities in the first half to take the lead before the break, but several shots, a couple taken by an eager Felipe Mora failed to put the scoreboard operators to work. Luckily the squad emerged from half-time with the same attacking mindset and opened the scoring with a Jeremy Ebobisse shot from none other than Mr. Assist himself, Diego Valeri.

Portland outshot Los Angeles 16-9, but lapses in the defense and the inability to close out the full match saw points dropped late in stoppage time. Winning when scores are lopsided is electrifying and are big morale boosters, but they can also cripple a team’s ability to hold out defensively when the shots just aren’t finding their way into the back of the net.

The club obviously needed this one, after a 2-1 loss on the road against Real Salt Lake last week put an end to their history chasing winning streak. But developing a winning momentum aside, Sunday’s matchup had huge potential to help solidify the Timbers in first place out west.

Race out West still just as close

Luckily for Portland, the conference standings at the end of Sunday’s fixtures remained relatively the same. With the Sounders drawing 0-0 against the Quakes, making them and the Timbers still tied for first place with 31 points overall. Then there’s a relentless Sporting Kansas City squad still chomping at their heels right behind them in “third” with 30 points, who drew 1-1 against Chicago Fire essentially making this week’s grab for points null in void in the top half of the conference standings.

A win on Sunday would have put the Timbers two points ahead of Seattle, who has the advantage as of right now with one more match left to play than Portland. This matters if the Timbers and Sounders find their form and results mirroring each other all the way to decision day.

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But, even though the Timbers may have missed out on a golden opportunity on Sunday for three points, they’ll find an even more important opportunity on Thursday as they travel north to face the Sounders at Century Link Field.