PORTLAND, Ore. — The Portland Timbers squandered a 2-0 first-half lead and lost 3-2 thanks to a second-half stoppage-time goal by West Bromwich Albion defender Gabriel Tamas in a friendly Wednesday at JELD-WEN Field.
The exhibition on a clear, warm evening against the English Premier League side won’t count in the MLS standings, but it continued the Timbers’ disturbing trend of watching leads evaporate.
It was eerily similar to the Timbers last home match when they lost leads of 1-0 and 2-1 in an eventual 3-2 loss against bitter rivals Seattle on July 10. The result comes at a tenuous time for Portland, who seemed to exorcise some demons with a 1-0 road victory Saturday against Chicago. The Timbers again take to the road for a Saturday match against Columbus.
Forward Eddie Johnson — the Timbers only British native who hails from Chester, England — and midfielder Peter Lowry each recorded goals within three minutes of each other midway through the first half. But they were matched in the second half by goals from West Brom midfielders James Morrison and Somen Tchoyi and then the winning goal in stoppage time.
It was the speedy play by midfielder Darlington Nagbe and forward Sal Zizzo that first opened things up for the Portland offense.
Nagbe’s defense splitting run in the 26th minute led to the Timbers first goal. With the West Brom defense on their heels, Nagbe dumped a pass to Johnson on the right wing. Johnson easily maneuvered wide of the defense and slammed a right-footed shot past a diving Boaz Myhill in the goal.
With the sellout crowd of 18,627 still buzzing from the first goal, Zizzo found himself free with the ball in the middle of the field. He slid a pass to Lowry, who was approximately 10 yards outside the goal box. Lowry unleashed a left-footed shot that sailed past Myhill to the top corner of the goal.
Despite wholesale changes by both teams in the second half, West Bromwich came alive in the 63rd minute when defender Brian Umony fouled midfielder Jerome Thomas on a call that clearly displeased the Portland crowd. But James Morrison’s penalty kick was wide right, luckily for Portland, as goalkeeper Jake Gleeson guessed the opposite direction.
But the Baggies weren’t done. Two minutes later, Morrison found the net on a long, well-placed shot.
And then in the 68th minute, West Bromwich evened the score when midfielder Tchoyi, a Cameroon international, corralled a high, bouncing pass from Ishmael Miller. Tchoyi fought off two defenders and bounced a shot over Gleeson’s reach.
The flurry of action belied the match’s sluggish start. West Bromwich’s first shot on goal came in the 20th minute when Congolese forward Youssouf Mulumbu blasted shot that was secured by goalkeeper Adin Brown.
A minute later, the Baggies threatened again when defender Nicky Shorey split the defense. But his shot was altered by Timbers defender Steve Purdy and secured by Brown.
There were some nervous moments for Portland in the waning minutes of the match. A shot by Tchoyi in the 82nd minute slammed into the goalpost, and the rebound attempt by Marc-Antoine Fortune sailed just high.
And in the 85th minute, a shot by Miller required a diving save by Gleeson. The corner kick resulted in a shot by Morrison that glanced off the cross bar. Finally, Tamas won the game with a long right-footed shot that glanced off Gleeson’s outstretched hand, off the cross bar and into the back of the net.
Portland depart Thursday for a Saturday match at Columbus. West Bromwich were playing in their third and final match on the preseason US tour.
West Bromwich star forward Peter Odemwingie, a Nigerian international who ranked fifth in the 2010-11 Premier League season with a team-high 15 goals, didn’t start was not made available by head coach Roy Hodgson.
POR -- Eddie Johnson (Darlington Nagbe) 26
POR -- Peter Lowry (Sal Zizzo) 29
WBA -- James Morrison (Youssouf Mulumbu) 65
WBA -- Somen Tchoyi (Ishmael Miller) 68
WBA -- Gabriel Tamas (unassisted) 91+
WBA -- Simon Cox (caution; Reckless Foul) 41
West Bromwich Albion FC -- Boaz Myhill, Gabriel Tamas, Billy Jones, Jonas Olsson, Nicky Shorey, Somen Tchoyi, James Morrison, Youssouf Mulumbu, Paul Scharner (George Thorne 77), Jerome Thomas (Marc-Antoine Fortune 77), Simon Cox (Ishmael Miller 62).
Substitutes Not Used: Craig Dawson, Marek Cech, Sam Mantom, Pablo Ibanez, Dean Kiely.
Portland Timbers -- Adin Brown (Jake Gleeson 46), Jeremy Hall, Eric Brunner (Mamadou Danso 46), Steve Purdy, Chris Taylor, Darlington Nagbe (Rodrigo Lopez 46), Freddie Braun, Peter Lowry, Sal Zizzo (Brian Umony 61), Eddie Johnson (James Marcelin 82), Kenny Cooper (Bright Dike 66).
Substitutes Not Used: None
Referee: Allen Chapman
Referee's Assistants: Baboucarr Jallow; Ronald LaGraff
4th Official: Jeremy Hanson
Time of Game: 1:48
Weather: Partly Cloudy and 75 degrees