FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The Portland Timbers secured their first point in MLS by snatching a 1-1 draw at New England on Saturday night.
The Revolution, who remain undefeated thus far in 2011, opened the scoring after 22 minutes through rookie Stephen McCarthy's bouncing volley, but Timbers captain Jack Jewsbury lashed home Jeremy Hall's feed seven minutes before halftime to level the score.
Portland came closest to deciding the match with 20 minutes to play as Kalif Alhassan hit the near post from a free kick, but the Timbers settled for a share of the points to garner their first result as an MLS side following two straight road losses to start the season.
Defender Ryan Cochrane earned his first start as a member of the Revolution as Steve Nicol made just one enforced change to his starting XI. Cochrane, a Portland, Ore. native, replaced the injured Franco Coria (left hamstring strain) at center back. Ousmane Dabo (right quadriceps strain) and Marko Perovic (left hamstring strain) missed out on the match entirely.
Portland manager John Spencer made two changes from the side that defeated Chivas USA 2-0 in a U.S. Open Cup play-in match on Tuesday night. Hall and Jewsbury featured as substitutes against the Red-and-White, but they replaced Peter Lowry and Ryan Pore in the starting XI against the Revs. Spencer also saw his attacking options increase off the bench as Eddie Johnson (right Achilles tendonitis) and Darlington Nagbe (sports hernia) were deemed fit enough for a place among the substitutes for the first time in MLS action.
New England may not have registered a goal as early as it did in its previous two MLS encounters, but the Revs did start fairly brightly as they attempted to take advantage of Portland's rigorous travel itinerary in recent weeks.
Stand-in Timbers goalkeeper Jake Gleeson rushed off his line on a couple of occasions to thwart potential attempts by Zak Boggs and Didier Domi inside the first 17 minutes, while Revs winger Sainey Nyassi watched his effort hit the crossbar before deflecting out into touch.
The early pressure ultimately paid off as McCarthy notched his first career goal moments after Nyassi's strike. Portland failed to clear the ball on three separate occasions before the ball finally bounced out to McCarthy on the edge of the area. The rookie midfielder hit a bouncing volley that somehow eluded Gleeson and nestled into the far right corner of the net.
Portland responded after conceding and started to grab a foothold in the game as the first half progressed. The improvement finally yielded dividends seven minutes before halftime.
Kenny Cooper provided the impetus with an enterprising diagonal run through midfield toward the right side of the penalty area. The Timbers forward then played a diagonal ball back into Hall just above the penalty spot. Hall held off two defenders and then laid the ball off for his captain, Jewsbury, to slot home with his left foot.
New England attempted to change the calculus as the second half unfolded by injecting Kenny Mansally up front and switching to a 4-4-2 formation to match the Timbers' setup.
Mansally's introduction after 58 minutes and the corresponding alterations perked the Revs up a bit as the match entered the final half hour, but the home side lacked the quality in the final third to transfer its pressure into the winning goal.
Portland came closest to digging out a winner with 20 minutes to play after Kevin Alston's sloppy pass kick started a Timbers counter. Cooper goaded Cochrane into conceding a foul 25 yards from goal. On the ensuing free kick, Alhassan struck the near post.
Mansally combined with Nyassi to create a chance on 79 minutes, but Nyassi scuffed his shot wide and the Timbers saw out the final ten minutes comfortably enough to secure their first MLS point.
NE -- Stephen McCarthy 1 (unassisted) 22
POR -- Jack Jewsbury 1 (Jeremy Hall 1, Kenny Cooper 1) 38
Portland Timbers -- Jake Gleeson, Steve Purdy, Eric Brunner, David Horst, Rodney Wallace, Jeremy Hall (Darlington Nagbe 66), James Marcelin, Kalif Alhassan, Jack Jewsbury, Kenny Cooper, Jorge Perlaza (Brian Umony 46).
Substitutes Not Used: Kevin Goldthwaite, Eddie Johnson, Peter Lowry, Ryan Pore, Kevin Guppy.
New England Revolution -- Matt Reis, Didier Domi, A.J. Soares, Ryan Cochrane, Kevin Alston, Sainey Nyassi, Zak Boggs, Shalrie Joseph, Pat Phelan, Zack Schilawski, Stephen McCarthy (Kenny Mansally 58).
Substitutes Not Used: Darrius Barnes, Kheli Dube, Ryan Kinne, Ilija Stolica, Chris Tierney, Bobby Shuttleworth.
POR -- Steve Purdy (caution; Reckless Foul) 9
NE -- A.J. Soares (caution; Reckless Foul) 19
NE -- Stephen McCarthy (caution; Unsporting Behavior) 22
NE -- Zak Boggs (caution; Reckless Foul) 35
POR -- Rodney Wallace (caution; Handball) 57
POR -- Brian Umony (caution; Reckless Foul) 83
Referee: Terry Vaughn
Referee's Assistants: Eric Boria; Peter Balciunas
4th Official: Ismail Elfath
Time of Game: 1:50
Weather: Partly cloudy and 48 degrees