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  • 30 Aug 2014

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Timbers gain experience, lose a preseason match

It was a preseason match.

That about sums up the Portland Timbers' 1-0 loss to FC Dallas before an announced crowd of 10,724 at Jeld-Wen Field on Wednesday night.

It is possible that both teams played hard. But if they did, the effort did not show up in anything resembling entertaining or attractive soccer.

With both clubs fielding teams consisting of several reserves and/or trialists, the speed of play was lethargic. Neither team created many scoring chances, and those that were created were usually blown.

FC Dallas outshot Portland 8-7. The Timbers did not put a single shot on goal. FC Dallas put only one shot on frame — the match- winner in the 16th minute. There were no saves in the match.

“The purpose of this game with the group we played was to gain experience," Timbers coach Caleb Porter said, "and I think we did gain experience for some of our youngsters.

“We wanted to see what these guys had and what they were made of. We need to prepare to win games now, but we also need to move our group forward with the guys who might come off the bench, guys who we will hopefully count on in the future.”

The Timbers' preseason record fell to 2-2-1. Portland will conclude its preseason on Saturday when it plays host to Dutch side AIK at 5 p.m.

Portland's first MLS regular season game is March 3 at home against the New York Red Bulls.

As Wednesday's match began, FC Dallas dominated and, in the 16th minute, the heat became too much for the Timbers to handle.

FC Dallas midfielder David Ferreira took a corner kick from the right side. He sent the ball into the 6-yard box, where it appeared that the Timbers had enough markers to defend properly. But the ball bounced off the shoulder of Portland defender Calum Angus and straight to the feet of Blas Perez. The FC Dallas striker played the ball with his right foot and sent a shot to the bottom right corner, where Timbers goalkeeper Jake Gleeson had no chance to make a play.

“We had man markers,” Timbers defender Sal Zizzo says. “Someone just didn’t pick Perez up. He tailed off to the PK spot. He had tons of space and had a great finish. It’s just a breakdown from us on a set piece. They capitalized. It’s unfortunate.”

Porter was very disappointed to give up the goal on a set piece.

“A third of goals are scored on set pieces, and we need to do better,” Porter says. “We can’t afford to lose those marks.”

For about the next 10 minutes, the Timbers strung together some quality possessions and created chances.

After its brief lull, though, FC Dallas regained control. FC Dallas dominated possession, but did little to make Gleeson sweat.

“I’m disappointed in the first half,” Porter said. “We were on our back foot and were a little more tentative than I would’ve liked.”

The first 15 minutes of the second half were even but atrociously slow, with neither team doing much noteworthy.

At the 60th minute, the Timbers' offense began showing some sparks, moving the ball into the FC Dallas defensive third.

Portland nearly struck gold in the 68th minute. Portland striker Frederic Piquionne had the ball at his feet, 10 yards from the goal. Former Timber Stephen Keel, who was marking Piquionne, slipped, leaving Portland with a clear look at goal. Piquionne tried to roll a shot to the bottom corner of the far post. The shot went just wide.

That wound up being the Timbers' last good chance to score.

“We were just never on the same page,” Timbers midfielder Danny Mwanga said, of the offense. “That was the problem in the first half. We came out in the second half and more guys came in and tried to play. We created a little bit of chances. But the start of the game wasn’t very good tonight, and that’s what cost us the game.”

Porter said things will be different on Saturday, when the Timbers put out a lineup that will more closely resemble their starting 11 when the season begins.

“We went into the week with a clear plan that we were going to play our first guys in the first and third games,” he said, referring to last Sunday night’s match against the San Jose Earthquakes and Saturday’s match against AIK. “We plan to play a group on Saturday that is probably going to be pretty close to the group who play against the New York Red Bulls, give or take a few players here and there.”