COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Portland Timbers' club-record 15-match undefeated streak was snapped on Sunday afternoon as the Columbus Crew took advantage of an early goal and red card to hand the Timbers their first road loss of 2013 with a 1-0 win at Crew Stadium.
Bernardo Añor's fifth-minute goal, his second in as many games, stood as the game-winner to end a three-match losing streak for the Crew.
Sunday's loss spoiled the Buckeye state return of former University of Akron coach Caleb Porter, who was making his first visit as Portland's coach. The Timbers (7-2-9, 30 points) were 7-0-8 in league play since losing to Montreal back on March 9 and they were also undefeated on the road (2-0-7) before Sunday.
The Crew used a familiar combination to take the lead in the 5th minute as Federico Higuaín found Añor on a header off a restart, the same way Añor scored Thursday against the LA Galaxy. This time, Higuaín's left corner kick went into the 6-yard box, where Añor powered his attempt inside the near post.
A bad start was made worse for Portland when Pa-Modou Kah earned a red card and conceded a penalty for committing a foul on Crew forward Aaron Schoenfeld in the box. Kah lost inside position to Schoenfeld and attempted to stop the forward, but stuck his right foot into Schoenfeld's forehead.
Luckily for the Timbers, Higuaín missed the 12th-minute penalty kick. The Argentine failed to convert from the spot for the second time in six tries this season when his shot skimmed outside the left post and the outstretched arms of goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts.
With Portland down a man and on the scoreboard, Porter was forced to go the bench in the 14th minute and brought on substitute defender Futty Danso for winger Kalif Alhassan.
Despite the Timbers being reduced to 10 men, they didn't deviate from their possession game and opened the second half in control. Their pressure almost resulted in the equalizer in the 55th minute when defender Andrew Jean-Baptiste headed Diego Valeri's corner kick off the right post.
Higuaín then tried to make up for his PK misfire by freeing Dominic Oduro on an early entry pass in the 65th minute, but the speedy Ghanaian booted his shot harmlessly across the goalmouth.
Ricketts kept his team in the match with a timely save in the 75th minute when Higuaín's lofted ball found Crew sub Ethan Finlay, whose diving header was swatted over the crossbar by the Jamaican international.
That save reenergized Portland, but the Timbers' Valeri missed on a wide-open look from 13 yards, sending his strike over the goal in the 77th minute.
The Timbers had one more golden opportunity denied in the 87th minute when Crew goalkeeper Matt Lampson, playing the first time this season for the injured Andy Gruenebaum (shoulder), made a save on a blistering strike by Darlington Nagbe that was ticketed for the upper right corner.
Each team made wholesale changes to their respective lineups with three of Portland's four necessitated by CONCACAF Gold Cup call-ups for Will Johnson (Canada), Rodney Wallace (Costa Rica), and Frédéric Piquione (Martinique). The trio had combined for 10 goals and 12 assists for the Timbers this season.
Columbus manager Robert Warzycha opted to give Wil Trapp his MLS debut after the midfielders recent participation in the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey. Trapp was one of five players in the Crew's starting lineup (Chad Barson, Konrad Warzycha, Danny O'Rourke and Lampson) from central Ohio high schools.
Portland next play at home on Saturday against the LA Galaxy. The Crew are idle in MLS play until July 20 when they host New England, but they welcome FA Cup champions Wigan Athletic to Crew Stadium on Saturday for an international friendly.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Bernardo Añor||The most active midfielder on both side of the ball for the Crew. The fact that he scored in his second straight game -- on a header, no less -- is a bonus.|
|2||Aaron Schoenfeld||His hard running and hustling up top proved the difference in the match. His hard work created the corner for the game-winner and he also drew the penalty and red card.|
|3||Chad Barson||Playing out of position (he's a right back), the rookie continues to be effective, especially on the defensive side of the ball, winning most of his challenges.|