Late concession ruins Portland's best display of season
PORTLAND, Ore. — If the game had ended right at the 90-minute mark, the Portland Timbers may have been in a mood to call Saturday’s game against the Colorado Rapids the best one they’ve played all season.
But it was those three stoppage time minutes that ruined it and sent the Timbers (5-6-2, 17 points) to their third straight loss while the Rapids (5-3-7, 22 points) escape with a narrow 1-0 win and three big points.
Timbers coach John Spencer vented his mounting frustration with the officiating, complaining to fourth official Allen Chapman that referee Ablodun Okulaja was making calls from farther and farther away because he couldn’t keep up with the play.
Chapman sent Spencer sent off moments before the Rapids Jamie Smith sent in the set piece ball that pinballed in front of the Timbers net, and which Drew Moor slammed into the net for the game-winner.
“I just voiced my opinion,” Spencer said after the game. “The referees make decisions that cost people their jobs.
“My job is on the line – and [that of] a lot of other coaches in the league – for guys who don’t have to stand up and be held accountable,” Spencer said. “[The referees] should be standing in press conferences in front of cameras and give reasons why they’re making decisions. Maybe they’ll think twice about making those decisions in the future.”
Portland committed 13 fouls to Colorado’s nine. Both teams were issued two yellow cards.
Spencer may have disagreed with particular calls, but he was unhappy about being ejected in stoppage time for making his point. Up until that point, Portland had been in command for most of the second half. Yet time and again, the Timbers could not convert scoring chances.
Portland were far more potent in their attack than they were a week earlier in a visit to Chivas USA, but the problem of putting chances away persists. Seven of Portland’s 15 goals this season came in the two home games that opened JELD-WEN Field (April 14 and 17).
“I thought we created a ton of chances,” captain Jack Jewsbury said, “we just couldn’t get one in the back of the net.”
The interplay between forwards Kenny Cooper and Jorge Perlaza was improved on Saturday. Each of them set up the other with a goal-scoring chance, but neither one of them finished it.
Cooper, who wore a bandage wrapped around his head after suffering a cut over his right eye, swung his leg and missed a ball in the six-yard box.
Perlaza had a great chance when he nudged the ball around Colorado goalkeeper Matt Pickens, who was 15 yards in front of his goal. But the Colombian striker couldn’t take advantage of the open net because the Rapids defense tracked back into position. Perlaza found Cooper with a pass, but Cooper didn’t have space to turn and shoot.
“I think we were the better team out here tonight,” substitute forward Ryan Pore said. “We were creating chances, but we gave up one chance in the 92nd minute and it cost us.”
Pore had the Timbers last chance as the game wound down, but his shot from 10 yards went high and over the bar moments before the final whistle.
Had the Timbers managed to survive those final three minutes – or found a late equalizer late – they would have gladly accepted the result.
Three months ago, the Timbers were embarrassed in a season-opening 3-1 loss at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. On Saturday, the composed, defending champion Rapids patiently waited for their opportunity, capitalized on it, and swept the season series.
Danso out for 2-3 weeks
Timbers defender Mamadou "Futty" Danso was taken off the field in the first half on a stretcher and taken to a nearby hospital. He was examined by medical personnel and has a minor injury to his left shoulder. He is expected to miss 2-3 weeks.