Postgame: Not Again, Another Dissapointing Draw For The Timbers
It’s not really funny anymore, but perhaps it never was in the first place. The Portland Timbers were forced to settle for a draw as the team gave up another late goal in the closing minutes of a match, resulting in a 1-1 draw with the visiting Carolina Railhawks. Amidst a steady drizzle of June rain, the Timbers (3-3-3) looked to be on their way to a much needed 3 points in the standings, then in the final moments of stoppage time, Carolina forward Entienne Barbara sent a low cross into the Timber’s box and midfielder Daniel Paladini squeezed his way through the crowd, sending the ball into the back of the net for the equalizer. The over 8,000 excited and energetic members of the Timber’s Army quickly fell silent and soon left the stadium with their heads hanging low.
A familiar and heartbreaking story, Portland dominated most of the action, taking 16 shots on goal for the game and holding a quality Carolina team to only 7 shots overall. Portland also earned 5 corners compared to 2 for Carolina.
“It’s hard to put into words how I feel right now,” said captain Ian Joy, “A little bit of deja vu, a little Groundhog’s day…. we’re sick and tired of having this feeling, having a great performance and not finishing off the game, and it’s just really disappointing.”
“The intensity we played with tonight, I’m delighted,” said head coach Gavin Wilkinson, “The result aside, I can’t fault one player for their work ethic. I can’t fault one player for their desire….I thought everyone that started tonight did a great job.”
“I think we played really well, you can look at (the amount) of shots and corners and see we played really well,” said forward Bright Dike, who started his first league game, “But its a couple of bad mistakes at the end, not being focus at the end.”
After creating many dangerous chances in the first 45 minutes, the match remained scoreless entering into the half. The Timbers came out after the intermission determined to keep up the pressure. They finally broke through in the 61st minute, when Bright Dike found a cutting Ryan Pore sliding in behind the defense. Pore quickly took the ball and blasted a left-footed shot past Carolina’s keeper into the far corner for a score, his 8th goal on the season.
On the bright side, Dike was solid in his first start, recording an assist, taking 2 shots, and nearly scoring on a few occasions. Portland created plenty of threatening opportunities and there were plenty of shots to go around. Pore lead the Timbers with 6 shots. Mandjou Keita and Alex Nimo took 3 shots apiece and even Stephen Keel got involved offensively, taking a season high 2 shots. The Timbers controlled possession, showed nice chemistry, playing off each other well and made some nice passes. Defensively, they were suffocating, holding Carolina to only 2 shots in the 1st half with aggressive, physical play.
“We have to really take the positives,” Added Joy, “Because it’s the only way we’re going get out of this little rut of not winning games and the only way we’re gonna win games is by scoring goals. We have to keep the confidence going because today we had a fantastic performance, but we just didn’t finish it off.”
And as the match neared its finish, the Railhawks seemed to turn up their intensity level, determined to take 2 point away from the Timbers. Deviating from previous strategies, Coach Wilkinson opted to play his starters heavy minutes, only making two substitutions for the entire match. And unlike Carolina, the Timbers seemed to lag a bit down the stretch, playing hesitantly and safe. Portland’s backline sat back, packed inside the box, and played preventative, defensive soccer. Perhaps, too defensive. With the draw, Portland takes only 1 point instead of 3 points, and is currently in a 3-way tie for 5th in the overall league standings.
“You play 90 minutes, you work hard and you want to win 3 points, and then at the end of the game you want to go have a nice victory pint.” Said Joy. “This is the second time it’s happened to us this year, that we let in a late goal. Maybe its a little bit of sloppy marking, maybe its a little bit of tiredness or fitness, I don’t know what it is, a little bit of bad luck, but unfortunately its not going our way right now”
“They were a little bit more desperate than us.” Said Coach Wilkinson, “We got some players who were a little bit nervous and anytime we get them in or around the 6 yard box, we don’t have that sense of self-belief and confidence.”
The Timbers won’t have much time to regroup or collect themselves emotionally, as the team will hit the road to play 1st place Austin on Wednesday followed by a trip down south to take on Miami on Saturday. How will the Timbers respond to another discouraging result? What will the team look to improve or change? And more importantly, is it time to start worrying yet?
“We’re not even half way through the season yet, so it’s something we can fix easily,” Said Dike. “So, we just need to take a look at the tape, see what we’re not doing right and fix it.”
“We’re 9 games into the season with 12 points, in the middle of the table, the whole focus is making the playoffs.” Said Coach Wilkinson. “I think you’ve seen enough now, you know we’re a good team… it’s a little bit of self-belief that’s missing.”
== FULL BOX SCORE ==
* Photo provided by Alison Andrews @ The Timber Mill
Posted by Kevin