The Portland Timbers played host to FC Dallas on a blistering Sunday afternoon, captain Jack Jewsbury drawing the teams level with a belter of a goal to equalize Scott Sealy’s opener for the visitors.
The JELD-WEN Field crew hosed down the Timbers Army to keep them cool as they waited for the match to ensue after an Olympics delayed kickoff, the hot conditions more reminiscent of home for FCD but the Rose City club came out hotter in the opening exchanges.
In the 11th minute Franck Songo’o clipped in a set piece to the touchline to meet the head of Brent Richards, but the youngster’s header could only find the side netting as he tried to square the ball across the box in his second consecutive league start.
A giveaway at midfield by Diego Chara a minute later spilled the ball to David Ferreira, who picked out the streaking run of Brek Shea, but Troy Perkins snuffed out the danger just as the freshly returned winger was about to make contact.
Songo’o then found Hanyer Mosquera at the far post, but the Colombian centerback could do no better than to put his header wide of the post. Dallas came pressing back, Steven Smith attempting to clear only for a deflection to redirect the ball to an unmarked Shea, the midfielder again denied by Perkins with the goal at his mercy in the 16th minute.
Portland retaliated as Chara found space on the wing to send a dangerous ball in, but Dallas repeatedly rejected multiple efforts as Richards, Darlington Nagbe, and Jewsbury all saw shots blocked in a flurry of activity in front of frenzied supporters in the North End.
Songo’o was caught out on the wing in the 23rd minute after the ball popped up in a collision with Zach Loyd, the Cameroonian adjudged by the referee to have committed a yellow card worthy foul when the contact appeared incidental. Loyd, who’d earlier been bundled over by David Horst, was perhaps given the benefit of the doubt after going to ground for the second time in the opening half hour.
While the home support were still feeling aggrieved with the officiating, Dallas maintained their intensity to earn a corner, the resulting kick creating panic in the box before the loose ball was eventually cleared.
In the 34th minute, Nagbe was fed by Songo’o in the middle of the park, but the Liberian’s long range effort was unable to find the frame from a dangerous position. Songo’o continued his habit of incisive dribbling moments later, but he was perhaps too unselfish as he chose to cross when a shot looked more inviting.
Chara broke into space shortly after, chopped down just outside the box to earn a free kick with Kris Boyd stepping up for his first look at goal. The Scot’s curling delivery was expert, FCD goalkeeper Kevin Hartman forced to parry wide as the ball was destined for the back of the net inside the far post.
Dallas tied to crawl back into the contest as Ferreira was put into space in the 40th minute, but Perkins did well to corral the former league MVP’s knuckling shot. The visitors weren’t finished, Ferreira again involved in the 45th minute as he unleashed Shea, who turned Mosquera before sending his shot beyond the far post with Perkins beaten.
The opening interval contained a couple of chances for both sides, but neither could capitalize with resolute defending and netminding the order of the day. As play resumed, interim Portland manager Gavin Wilkinson and his Dallas counterpart Schellas Hyndman retained their starters, but both gaffers were soon forced to make changes.
The brightest spot for the Timbers continued to shine as Songo’o recovered a loose ball deep in Dallas territory to let rip a rocket, but Hartman made himself big to repel the effort.
Dallas nearly returned the favor less than a minute later, another loose ball not dealt with by the Portland defense on this occasion, Perkins thankful to see the ball sail wide. Perkins reprieve would be short, however, a Dallas attack in the 51st minute unlocking Portland for the game’s opening goal.
Ferreira was given too much time in midfield when he found Shea open on the wing, who blew by Kosuke Kimura to cross to the unmarked Sealy, who culminated the play with an all too easy finish at the six yard box while Horst and Mosquera were guilty of absentee defending.
Chara was brought down after bursting into the Dallas box a minute later, but the referee waved play on. The official then offered a make up call when Loyd was issued a second yellow and resultant red for fouling Songo’o, a similar infraction to the one that earned the defender his first booking earlier in the match.
A defiant Timbers Army raised their voices in an effort to lift their team, but were again shaking heads as they saw the home side dig themselves a hole. If Portland were to find an avenue back into the match, they would need the 12th man of their home support and a man advantage on the field to do it.
Trying to cope with a man down, Hyndman took off the goalscoring Sealy in the 57th minute for Carlos Rodriguez, then at the hour mark Wilkinson rang the changes for Portland. The Kiwi decided he had not seen enough from Boyd and Richards, replacing them with Bright Dike and Danny Mwanga, respectively, a need for a more fervent attack evident as the starters failed to influence the match.
Songo’o again tested Hartman with a long distance strike, but the veteran stopper was as staunch as ever, punching clear to continue Portland’s scoring woes. Mosquera then tumbled over in the 67th as Shea rounded him again, fortunate to see the Dallas player’s shot carom off the post and out of bounds to safety.
A giveaway a minute later released Dike into a one on one with Hartman, the keeper again a virtual wall as the striker’s effort rebounded harmlessly off the goalie’s chest at the edge of the eighteen yard box.
The ninety plus temperature was taking its toll on the Timbers, but it was FC Dallas players dropping like flies as the match wore on, perhaps less due to the extra exertion from being a man down than a conscious effort to slow the game’s tempo.
After Shea caught a boot to the face from Horst, Hyndman made his first change during the injury respite to bring on former Timber James Marcellin in the 76th minute for Julian de Guzman, the Timbers making a change of their own as Steven Smith left for Kalif Alhassan.
The resulting free kick to resume play looked easily covered by Perkins, but the linesman called for a controversial corner, the goalkeeper pleased to see the official’s error in judgement not doing further damage to Portland’s chances.
A nutmeg by Songo’o then offered another shot for Hartman to block, but the ball cleared only as far as Mwanga, who ripped one back on frame as another touch from the keeper put the ball off the post.
An Alhassan cross was then punched clear by Hartman, but only as far as the top of the box where it met the foot of Jewsbury in midair. The skipper’s one time volley sent the ball sweetly off his laces, the belted shot giving Hartman no chance in the 79th minute.
The captain was jubilant and the crowd pulsated as the acrid smell of green smoke permeated the stadium, a much needed tally revitalizing the Timbers.
Portland were now on the front foot, a Mosquera header going narrowly wide in the 82nd minute, but the dangerous Ferreira then found Fabian Castillo surging into the box. A rare forward foray from Dallas following Loyd’s departure, the winger’s cross cum shot went straight into the gloves of Perkins, the effort proving Castillo’s final contribution as he was taken off in the 87th minute for the more defensive minded Daniel Hernandez.
Desperation defending ensued for Dallas as they tried to cling to a point as the minutes ticked off the clock past full time. Horst barged his way through midfield before a return pass set him up for a blasted effort from outside the box, the defender unfortunate his accuracy was unable to match his enthusiasm.
Shea made a last ditch effort with a wide attempt in injury time, the last real danger in the match petering out as the referee called for time moments later.
The result hardly does either club any favors in the standings as they maintain status quo at the foot of the table, but the Timbers will feel the effort was leagues above the one that saw Dallas put a pasting to Portland two weeks ago on the road.
The attacking intent that failed to find the net against Chivas USA last week finally came to fruition, Portland’s first goal following three scoreless defeats a treasured turn of fortune. A draw on the road will provide Dallas some solace after letting Portland take a share of the spoils, while the Timbers will find some relief after earning their first point in over a month.
Portland must now find a way to carry this positive step forward with a two match road trip away to Toronto FC a week from Wednesday, then a trip to New York to face the Red Bulls and Kenny Cooper at the weekend.
Should Wilkinson continue to push the team to be more tenacious in the final third, a much hoped for turnaround will need to tackle the test of the Timbers winning on their travels first.