Caleb Porter spoke about a common theme all week in explaining the Portland Timbers’ struggles to start the 2014 season.
And while a number of areas have improved in recent weeks, the biggest problem continues to be the team’s inability to find goals in bunches, no more evident than in the team’s 1-1 draw on the road Sunday against the Houston Dynamo.
The Timbers had nearly 60 percent of the possession and completed almost 90 percent of their passes in the match, their eighth straight without a win to start the season. But they were outshot 14-10 and had just four shots on goal, and their eight goals scores through eight games is a far cry from the 14 they scored through the same time frame in 2013.
“You’re not going to get a ton of chances on the road against a good team, but for me I would have liked to see a bit more aggressiveness at times,” Porter told the media in his postgame comments. “The touches we had on the ball, we’ve got to turn that possession, into penetration. And for me, it’s about individuals taking responsibility at times to step up, and shoot, drive.”
An opportunistic goal by forward Gaston Fernandez in the 33rd minute was all Portland could muster on a steamy afternoon at BBVA Compass Stadium, and even it didn’t stand as the winner after Will Bruin’s early tally for Houston.
But the good news, Porter said, is “we’re getting close.”
Dominating possession on the road in tough conditions against a possession-orientated team like the Dynamo, also desperately trying to turn around a disappointing start to the season, Porter said, was a “huge positive.”
“We knew they’d be wounded, we they’d come out flying, they like to open teams up and play a very fast pace, up-tempo game, and we didn’t allow them to do that,” Porter said.
The fact that Portland are still searching for their first win since November of last year may make the draw sting a bit more, and defender Jack Jewsbury said the locker room was “disappointed” following the latest result. But he also put the match in perspective.
“Maybe we deserved more, but at the end of the day a draw isn’t a bad result, especially going down [1-0],” Jewsbury said. “[Giving up is] not in the DNA of this group. To fight back and get even and keep pushing for the three points was a positive.”
Porter said it’s a result they can build on, and he knows just where to start when they get back to work preparing for three straight home games, starting May 3 against D.C. United.
“I would have liked to see us find that goal at the end to win the game, and that’s the piece we’ve got to continue to get right,” he said.
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com.