Portland’s difficulty linking passes together to create scoring opportunities in the final third is not a new problem, but it is one that the Timbers have been unable to solve. After Saturday’s 1-0 loss at Chivas USA, head coach John Spencer said he’d like to see a bit more patience offensively.
By holding up possession, maintaining control, and allowing for more players to get forward, Spencer told MLSsoccer.com he believes his team would be more effective than it was Saturday at the Home Depot Center.
“We’re trying to make the killer cross or the shot from distance,” Spencer said.
WATCH: Full Match Highlights
Chivas USA, who won their second home game of the season, were the aggressors, the team controlling possession, pushing forward and creating scoring chances. And ultimately, Marcos Mondaini’s goal in the 70th minute was good enough for the Goats to defeat the Timbers.
Portland (5-5-2) remain winless on the road, dropping to 0-4-2 away from JELD-WEN Field. The team has lost two straight games for the first time since the first two of the season.
If not for several stellar saves from goalkeeper Troy Perkins, and a mis-hit header by Justin Braun in first-half stoppage time, the margin could have been greater. Perkins made six saves.
“I thought he was excellent,” Spencer said in his postgame press conference. “I thought he pulled off two world-class saves. That’s why we brought him here, that’s why we put him back in the team, and I thought in the last couple months he’s been excellent.”
Regular Timbers starting center back Eric Brunner missed the game due to illness, but his absence was no excuse. Replacement David Horst played well, but overall, the Timbers were too often back on their heels.
Early in the second half, Spencer spoke briefly on the Root Sports telecast: “We need to show more patience and courage. We’re turning the ball over too easy in the final third.”
At the time, the game was still scoreless. For a stretch of the second half, the Timbers came alive and put some steady pressure on Chivas thanks to better movement and passing out of the midfield.
“We were much better in the second half,” Spencer said.
Jack Jewsbury hit a promising shot in the 54th minute that Chivas goalkeeper Dan Kennedy knocked over the bar. After Mondaini’s goal, Spencer made three substitutions to try and generate some late energy over the final 20 minutes.
Rookie Darlington Nagbe came on in the 71st minute and injected some creativity into the Timbers offense, but it didn’t produce an equalizer. Forward Eddie Johnson and midfielder James Marcelin also came into the game, but the Timbers had difficulty penetrating the Rojiblancos' back line.
Portland return to action on June 11 when the Colorado Rapids visit JELD-WEN Field.