Portland Timbers rue "mental breakdown," not Blanco absence, for LAFC loss

Mark-Anthony Kaye goal vs. Timbers

Giovanni Savarese doesn't need to rewatch his team’s match against LAFC to realize what went wrong or when things changed for the worse in the Portland Timbers’4-2 loss at Banc of California Stadium Sunday night.

It was already crystal clear when he addressed the media after the match.

"After the water break [in the first half], I think we felt too comfortable and we concede three, say, goals that’s not positive,” the Timbers coach said. “Again, we say the same thing, we need to make sure that we have matches that are complete like the one we played Seattle.”

Savarese lauded his team’s play in the opening 30 minutes, their reward coming in the 25th minute via an Eryk Williamson goal. But Portland conceded three times in the final 15 minutes of the first half and went into the locker room with a 3-1 deficit.

What changed after the hydration break?

“The change was just the mentality, that’s all because if we continue to do the same thing we did in the first 30 minutes and the majority of the second half there’s no way that we concede this amount of goals in the way we did in these 15 minutes,” Savarese said.

Highlights: LAFC 4, Portland Timbers 2

The Timbers started to press too high, allowing LAFC to play between the lines, opening up space for their midfielders to find the front three behind Portland’s defenders, Savarese said.

“I think it was just a mental breakdown from us,” Williamson said. “Everyone’s frustrated about those 15 minutes and it’s something we need to focus on and get better at. On the field they kind of felt in control for those 15 minutes. And we just needed to get not on the ball and that’s where we lacked a bit of leadership from me and some of the other guys in the midfield. We needed to step up in that moment and get control of the game. We ultimately kind of gave the game away in that moment.”

It was the Timbers’ first game without Sebastian Blanco, who suffered a season-ending ACL injury early in the first half of a 2-1 win over the Sounders a week ago.

But Savarese, who hails Blanco as irreplaceable, said his absence isn’t the reason the Timbers lost.

“It is very unfortunate and Seba is a very important component. But we didn’t lose today because Seba wasn’t with us,” Savarese said. “We lost today because in 15 minutes we gave the game away.”