PORTLAND, Ore. – This was a loss not so easily explained.
Those were precisely the sentiments of Portland Timbers head coach John Spencer after his team lost 1-0 in extra time Wednesday night to amateur club Cal FC in a third-round match of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.
With his best available lineup contesting a team composed mostly of castoffs from MLS and various other leagues that's currently sitting ninth in the 12-team Gran Liga de Oxnard table, Spencer said there are absolutely no excuses.
HIGHLIGHTS: POR 0, CAL 1
It was a game, after all, that Spencer warned his side against taking too lightly.
"Totally, totally unacceptable, I told the guys in the locker room," Spencer said. "We should be very, very embarrassed at ourselves tonight. Very, very poor."
Portland fired off 37 shots, including 15 on goal, and kept Cal FC on their heels most of the night. But the chances were either harmless or mostly off the mark.
And Cal FC made the Timbers pay when Artur Aghasyan broke free for a 95th-minute goal.
"We had the chances to win the game," Spencer said. "But there's no use talking about, 'You had this, you had that.' You've got to score goals to win the game."
Striker Kris Boyd, who had three shots on goal including a badly missed penalty kick in the 80th minute, echoed Spencer's frustrations.
"Everybody in the forward areas need to have a look at themselves, and we must score," he said. "When you have that many chances in a game, you've got to score goals. It's as simple as that. It's impossible to have that amount and not score."
In the end, the Timbers wound up on the wrong side of Open Cup history, and a story making national headlines. Cal FC became the first club from the United States Adult Soccer Association to beat an MLS side, leading to a normally supportive Timbers Army to rain down critical chants such as "Care like we do" and "You call this MLS?"
"I can feel the fans' frustration; I can hear their frustrations," Spencer said. "Obviously the players are very frustrated in the locker room. They know they never did well, never got the job done. The fans pay their money so they're allowed to shout what they want."
And the Timbers – and their supporters – will have more than two weeks to stew over the loss before returning to action June 17 on the road against the LA Galaxy.
"The people who I feel sorry for the most are the owner and the fans that spend their money to come watch the game,” Spencer said.
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.