PORTLAND, Ore. – Landon Donovan, David Beckham & Co. have spoiled many a head coach’s night.
The latest victim happened to be new Portland boss Gavin Wilkinson, who saw the Galaxy stars lead their side to a 5-3 win over the Timbers in his first game as the interim head coach.
And Wilkinson placed the blame squarely on his own shoulders after Saturday night’s demolition at JELD-WEN Field.
“Organizationally, we should have been a lot better,” Wilkinson said of the defensive breakdowns that led to the Timbers giving up five goals in a game for the first time in their MLS existence. “But I think we’ve been through a lot this week.”
HIGHLIGHTS: POR vs LA
Wilkinson pointed to a gap of communication between the midfield and back line that led to Beckham’s first goal in the 19th minute – an unchallenged, curling strike from distance. A defensive lapse on the wing allowed Donovan to cleanly cross to forward Robbie Keane for the Galaxy’s fourth goal in the 28th minute.
And in between, it was the Galaxy being the Galaxy with Beckham scoring his second goal on a bending free kick and Donovan cashing in on a penalty kick.
Before Wilkinson knew it, the Timbers’ new era was off to a very rocky start. Keane added another goal for good measure in the 64th minute.
“There’s no way we should be walking out of here having given up five goals at home,” Wilkinson said. “It’s just not right. I think we had some key players not play as well as they could. In individual areas we got stretched. The lines between the back line and the midfield allowed Donovan and Keane to drop off and pick up the ball and cause us tremendous problems.”
Wilkinson said the poor defensive performance could have been attributed to a mixture of key tactical messages being lost in the translation in the Spencer-to-Wilkinson transition and just a few players not having a good night.
“I’ll take the blame for this one, there’s been a lot happening in the last week,” he said.
Midfielder and team captain Jack Jewsbury, however, said the result had noting to do with the distractions from the week.
“Not at all,” Jewsbury said. “The reality is the majority of the guys in this locker room have been through changes before. Obviously it’s difficult the first two days, but then you get on with it. I thought we came out and played pretty well and then the key guys that we talked about before the game, Landon and Keane and obviously Beckham, when you give them space and free kicks it’s going to be dangerous. And they took advantage of them tonight.”
Striker Kris Boyd, who scored two goals of his own, echoed Jewsbury’s thoughts, saying there are no excuses for allowing five goals.
“It’s not been easy,” Boyd said. “It’s been a hard week to deal with, but as I said at the beginning of the week we have to move one, we had to be professional about the job at hand tonight. And I thought the first stages we went about it correctly. And I’ll go back to it again, we scored three goals at home, and I don’t think we should be losing the game.”
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.