Looking for a new beginning after a three-week break from MLS play, the Portland Timbers were left to write the same story after a 1-0 loss Sunday to the LA Galaxy.
Once again, the goals were nowhere to be found.
“I think it’s just been bad finishing,” said Portland forward Kris Boyd, who was responsible for two of his team’s four shots on goal. “I think when you look at the chances we had, we’ve created enough chances to win enough games. We’ve not taken our chances, sometimes these things happen but it’s up to us as strikers, midfielders, defenders to start taking them when they come along.”
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In 13 games, the Timbers have just 10 goals (two of their tallies are own goals). The lack of production cost them an embarrassing result May 30 in a 1-0 loss to amateur club Cal FC in the US Open Cup and a chance to move up the Western Conference table on Sunday.
The previously last-place Galaxy leapfrogged Portland, dropping the Timbers to eighth place on 13 points.
“The games are ticking down now,” Timbers head coach John Spencer said. “You can’t look at games being any bigger than the other. We need to start picking up points, we know that. We’re not dumb. There’s too many games clicking by and saying, ‘Oh we should have, could have done this, could have gotten a decision.’”
The loss, which ended Portland’s four-game unbeaten streak (one win, three ties), left Spencer particularly frustrated. The addition of forward Danny Mwanga, acquired last week in a trade with Philadelphia, did nothing to spark the Portland attack.
The Timbers’ remade attack now includes Mwanga, Boyd, the Scottish Premier League’s all-time leading scorer signed in the offseason, and No. 2 overall draft pick Darlington Nagbe.
“I’m sick and tired of hearing the word potential,” Spencer said. “To be honest, if I hear it one more time, I’m probably going to throw up. For me, potential gets you your contract, gets you on the field, then you’ve got to produce. We’ve got too many guys right now not producing to the best of their abilities.”
Predictably, the stat sheet provided little comfort for Spencer.
The Timbers had eight attempts on goal, 81-percent passing accuracy and a 53-percent possession advantage.
“The good thing about it is we’re creating,” Spencer said. “The negative is we’re not taking the opportunities. In games like this, when you’re on the road especially, you’ve got to try to capitalize on the half chances or the few chances you get, and at the moment we’re not doing that.
“And it’s not just the forwards, you look at your wide midfield players, attacking midfield players, they’ve got to get shots on goal and they’ve got to score goals and they’ve got to contribute also.”
The Timbers return home to the site of the Cal FC debacle next Sunday to face a frustrated fanbase in a heated rivalry game against the Seattle Sounders.
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.