Two steps forward, one step back. That appears to be the way of things for the Portland Timbers as the season heads into its final stretch.
Coming off a three-game unbeaten streak that saw the Timbers snag their highlight of the year with a 3-0 win over the LA Galaxy, the expansion team fell 2-1 on the road Saturday against the Houston Dynamo. And the reasons behind the most recent setback have a familiar tune: solid play but a failure to capitalize on scoring opportunities.
“I don’t think we were outplayed,” Timbers head coach John Spencer said. “I think we matched them stride for stride, and I was really disappointed.”
Portland threatened often early in the match and then pressured the Dynamo the entire second half, punctuated by Jack Jewsbury’s seventh goal of the season in the 56th minute. The Timbers had three shots on goal in the match’s first 17 minutes, including a wide-open run by forward Eddie Johnson that was broken up by Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall.
Portland forward Kenny Cooper led the Timbers’ last gasp with two shots on goal in the final 10 minutes of the match.
“We had a great chance by Eddie Johnson from a back pass that could have put us 1-0 up,” Spencer said. “I keep telling the guys that chances win goals, and goals win games. They then go 2-0 up, and then I think from then we get in at halftime, we reorganize a bit, and we have a chat. In the second half, I don’t think I’d be too far away from saying that we had some great chances to possibly tie the game, if not win it. I think we were very unlucky to not come away with something.”
Nice goal, but road woes continue
Jewsbury’s second-half goal was the first time the Timbers have scored in consecutive road games. The Timbers played to a 1-1 draw in their last match on the road in San Jose.
Still, Portland remain shaky away from their home of JELD-WEN Field with a record of 1-7-3.
“We had a little spell there in the first half, a 15-minute spell where they got their two goals, that maybe we weren’t as sharp as we would have liked,” Jewsbury said. “Overall, we thought we had a pretty good performance. And if we finish a few more chances on the offensive end, I think we at least get one and maybe even three points out of the game.”
Johnson out again
Johnson, who made his return to the lineup against Houston after missing two games due to a concussion sustained on August 3, will miss Wednesday’s game against Sporting Kansas City (8:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online) with another concussion. He was carried off the field on a stretcher after being knocked to the ground during play against the Dynamo.
The Englishman was transported to a local hospital at halftime for observation and rejoined his teammates at the team hotel Sunday night. He returned to Portland today.