Rejected, ejected, dejected: Anatomy of a Timbers loss
Portland misses shots, loses its coach and then squanders point in 1-0 home defeat to Colorado
About two minutes into stoppage time, the Portland Timbers looked as if they were going to end their two-match losing streak Saturday night against the Colorado Rapids.
With the score tied 0-0 late in the MLS game at Jeld-Wen Field, the Rapids brought the ball into their attacking third. The referee whistled Timbers defender Eric Brunner for a foul, directly in front of the Portland bench.
Timbers coach John Spencer, who had become increasingly upset about the officiating over the course of the match, looked at Allen Chapman, the fourth official, made a gesture with his fingers by his nose and said, 'You're having a stinker.'
Chapman called referee Abiodun Okulaja over to the sidelines. Spencer was ordered off the pitch.
Spencer had not even reached the tunnel when the Rapids scored the winning goal.
Rapids midfielder Jamie Smith lined up for the free kick from 30 yards out. He sent the ball into the box. There was a scramble. Rapids strikers Quincy Amarikwa and Caleb Folan made a play for the ball around the near post. Goalkeeper Troy Perkins tried to knock the ball away. It squirted away from him.
Timbers midfielder Jack Jewsbury tried to clear the ball off the line. It hit the back of a Rapids player and came to Colorado defender Drew Moor in the center of the 6-yard box. Moor fired a shot into the back of the net, two minutes into the 3 1/2-minutes of extra time, giving his club a 1-0 win.
'It was a goal-mouth scramble of a lifetime,' Moor said. 'It just seemed to be in there forever. I was just trying to put it on goal. I was tired. I knew they had guys back on the line, and I found a spot where they weren't. It's a good feeling.'
The Timbers (5-6-2, 17 points) have now lost three matches in a row.
Colorado (5-3-7, 22 points) came out before the announced sellout crowd of 18,627 playing like a defending MLS Cup champion.
'I don't think they were scared to play here,' Spencer said. 'They came with a game plan. They felt they were good enough to beat us. They didn't sit back. They came to play.'
The first 45 minutes were ugly for the Timbers, as the Rapids quite literally beat them up.
In the 12th minute, Portland striker Kenny Cooper tried to fight his way through defenders in the box on a corner kick. He tripped and slammed his forehead into Timbers defender Jeremy Hall's elbow. Cooper rose with a gash above his eye. He finished the match with a bandage wrapped around his head, which made him look like a wounded soldier in a World War I movie.
In the 31st minute, Portland defender Mamadou 'Futty' Danso went up for a header against Folan. Somehow, Danso's left shoulder got wrenched in the act. He had to be carried off on a stretcher. Danso was taken to a hospital, where it was determined that he has a minor left shoulder injury that will keep him out for two or three weeks.
In the 40th minute, Perkins was backing up to handle a long shot. As the ball went over the net, Perkins crashed into the left post and knocked his head against the unforgiving steel. Though he remained in the match, Perkins could be seen rubbing his head long after the play.
Danso, Cooper and Perkins were unavailable for comment after the match.
The Timbers were half a beat off rhythm offensively all night. They put up 18 shots, but they lacked any resemblance of surgical precision. Only four shots were on frame. Portland's shots were released just a split-second too late and were blocked by Colorado defenders, or they were wide or high.
Jewsbury said the Timbers needed to be 'more opportunistic. We got the chances.'
Midfielder Ryan Pore, who substituted into the match for Jorge Perlaza in the 81st minute, had two very golden opportunities to score. He missed a header wide right and ballooned a ball over the net. After the missed header, Pore lay on the pitch in defeat for a long moment. He held his hands over his face.
Pore, who has been playing sparingly, was still visibly disappointed in himself after the match. He refused to blame the spot appearances for missing the two shots, though.
'I don't want to say (I'm) rusty,' Pore said. 'I just need to take those chances and score them. Obviously, John has faith in me. He put me in in the last 10 minutes for a reason, and I need to reward him with a goal or two.'
The Rapids took their fair share of shots as well (15). The visitors were more creative than Portland and found better chances. Perkins was forced to save the match, time and again. He finished with five saves.
'They were good at winning knockdowns,' Timbers defender Eric Brunner said. 'You're not going to really get through a game where no one's going to take a shot. Troy stood up to the task on those.'
The Timbers must regroup for next Sunday's match at Jeld-Wen against a league stalwart, the New York Red Bulls.
'We've gone a couple of games without winning, so we've got to start pulling out results now,' defender David Horst said. 'We're getting into the middle third of the season. These games are getting more and more important.'