LOS ANGELES — Several minutes before the end of the first half during the Portland Timbers’ first visit to Banc of California Stadium Sunday, LAFC midfielder Benny Feilhaber gave referee Silviu Petrescu a piece of his mind after Portland's Diego Chara tackled Carlos Vela and the official waved play on.
The veteran midfielder received a caution for dissent for his outburst, but the moment encapsulated a sense of frustration that hung around the Downtown Los Angeles ground most of the afternoon during a 0-0 draw.
“Tight, hard game,” LAFC head coach Bob Bradley said in the opening of his postgame press conference. “They are a good team. I think their way of playing is pretty clear. They are strong defensively. They are good in transition. That’s the kind of game you expect.”
Instead of the free-flowing attacking football LAFC has become known for, this was the type of contest where inches become valuable and quality chances are limited.
For Portland, that was by design.
“I thought we were disciplined,” said Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese. “We were very good in close spaces, at being very compact, and being a team that’s able to interact with each other and create very good associations to make sure we didn’t leave them any spaces open.”
With the draw, the two teams sit in second and third place in the Western Conference in terms of points per game. They will be battling FC Dallas and Sporting Kansas City for the top spot in the West, and a bye into the Conference, over the last half of the season.
“Mentally, physically, it’s one of those games where you have to battle and often times that will lead to a little bit extra sloppiness on our part and on their part,” said defender Walker Zimmerman, who feels it was a fair matchup between two teams who will meet again on Wednesday in the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals. “That was a hard point, it was not easy, and both teams really put good effort to try and get a point out of it.”