Time for soul searching as Timbers blow 3rd straight lead

Darlington Nagbe and Juninho

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PORTLAND, Ore. – Either the Portland Timbers or LA Galaxy were going to come away from the Home Depot Center on Saturday night with some serious soul searching to do.

Turns out, it’s the Timbers.

And after their 3-1 defeat at the hands of the MLS Cup champions, some disturbing themes are beginning to emerge. The most worrisome? Portland have now squandered leads in their last three matches after giving up their 1-0 advantage thanks to a Kris Boyd goal in the 23rd minute against the Galaxy.

OPTA Chalkboard: Timbers overrun in second half

“Of course, it’s a long season and obviously you want to be winning,” Timbers head coach John Spencer said. “… The guys in there will be able to look back at this month, and it will be a distant memory.”

What will be engrained in Portland’s short-term memory, however, is Landon Donovan’s equalizer in the 44th minute and the winner by Juninho in the 83rd. David Beckham’s golazo a minute into stoppage time to put the exclamation point on the end to the Galaxy’s two-game losing streak.

“Goals change games, change outlook of games, change perspective of games,” Spencer said. “I think we were well in control of the game in the first half. I think we had a couple other chances that were never capitalized on. Most good teams will come back and punish you if you give them an opportunity.”

And that’s turning into the story of their year. Portland were coming off a 2-1 loss last Saturday against Chivas USA, a game they led 1-0 after the first half. Real Salt Lake scored two goals in the final four minutes against Portland on March 31 to win 3-2.

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When the Timbers return to training, they’ll undoubtedly look at their inability to adapt as teams push forward in the game’s later stages. When it was all said and done on Saturday the Galaxy created 17 attempts on goal to Portland’s eight, erasing a positive start for the Timbers.

“I think I still believe that we have quality, and we have quality to win the games,” Spencer said. “For me, confidence is obviously a big factor when you have a losing streak, and it’s the same the other way when you go on a winning streak and you feel unbeatable. I think we performed at times, played some real good football tonight.”

Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at dcitel@hotmail.com