PORTLAND, Ore. – There are going to be days like these.
Those were head coach Caleb Porter’s sentiments after his Portland Timbers were left without a goal for the first time this season in a scoreless draw at JELD-WEN Field on Thursday night against the New England Revolution. And it’s not as if Portland didn’t get their chances – the league’s third highest scoring team fired off a whopping 22 shots with nine on goal – but it just wasn’t their night.
“We had plenty of shots,” the Timbers head coach said in his postgame press conference. “It’s not like we didn’t create chances, we had a lot of chances. We missed a couple breakaways, we had a couple point-blank shots saved. This could have been a different result. It could have been 1-0, 2-0, but we were one touch off on a few finishes and the goalkeeper made some great saves. In the end, that’s soccer.”
Portland’s offensive numbers were right on par with how the early season has played out for the rejuvenated side – especially at home with their raucous crowd pushing them forward. In addition to their staggering shot total, the Timbers won nine corner kicks, held a 64-percent possession advantage and had a 50-50 ball success rate of 55 percent.
It required a Man-of-the-Match performance by New England goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth – who had nine saves – to preserve the draw.
“In the end you have to credit their goalkeeper, he made some great saves,” Porter said. “But I also thought a part of that was us not being maybe as sharp as we could have been in the final third. But this is soccer, there are games where you just can’t find a goal and I thought that was the case today.”
Timbers defender Jack Jewsbury said New England’s strategy of bunkering in, especially as the game wore on, is something Portland could see more and more.
“People know we’re pretty dangerous going forward, so they’re going to sit back behind the ball,” Jewsbury said. “We’ve got to be able to break lines, that’s first and foremost. We’ve got guys in the attacking third who are very, very dangerous, and we’ve got to get them on the ball more.”
Getting on the ball wasn’t the problem Thursday night, though.
“I thought they did a good job of frustrating us at times,” Jewsbury said. “ But still we had enough shots tonight. … We created enough chances, we’ve just got to put one or two in the back of the net and then they open up.”
Portland’s best chance, perhaps, came in the 15th minute when Nagbe was sprung loose on a through pass from Diego Chará. But Nagbe’s open look at the goal was punched away by Shuttleworth.
“We just didn’t finish, that’s it,” Nagbe said. “I hit it the way I wanted to. He just made a quick save.”
Still, Portland extended their franchise-record unbeaten streak to seven games and have lost just once in their first nine games.
“We expected to win, like we expect to win every game, and we didn’t win,” Porter said. “And I think it’s a good reminder that it’s not just going to happen.”
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com.