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  • 21 Sep 2014

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Timbers feel Impact of 2-1 loss

The Portland Timbers were far and away the best team on the pitch Saturday night at Jeld-Wen Field.

They dominated the Montreal Impact, had .629 percent of the possession and outshot Montreal 19-9.

Portland was always a threat to score, the Impact was rarely a threat to score.

The only place that the Timbers did not beat up on the Impact was on the scoreboard.

Montreal, which waited for any chance to counter-attack, scored in the 30th and 60th minutes, got phenomenal goalkeeping from former Timbers keeper Troy Perkins and left town with a 2-1 victory.

Portland was able to score in the 80th minute, but it was not enough before the announced sellout crowd of 20,674.

“It’s disappointing not to get the result,” Timbers coach Caleb Porter said. “We had prepared thoroughly to face Montreal. I would say that without a shadow of a doubt, everything that we thought they would do, they did. We were good enough today to win the game — if we didn’t make the critical mistakes that we made.”

After quickly falling behind the New York Red Bulls in their season opener last week, the Timbers (0-1-1) came out Saturday against the Impact (2-0-0) ready to play from the opening whistle.

Portland controlled possession and pushed the ball into dangerous positions in the attacking third.

The Timbers' movement of the ball throughout the pitch was phenomenal. Portland’s passes often left a throng of Montreal defenders running from pillar to post chasing after the elusive ball.

It seemed only a matter of time before Portland would turn one of its opportunities into a tally.

But it was Montreal that struck first, on an outrageous goal.

The Impact were awarded a free kick 40 yards from goal. The ball went to Montreal defender Matteo Ferrari at the top of the 18-yard box. Ferrari was surrounded by four Timbers defenders and could do nothing with the ball but volley it into the air and hope for the best.

Impact defender Hassoun Camara was the closest Montreal player to the volley when it landed 15 yards from goal. It seemed as if he would have no play on the ball, although he had space to himself.

He turned that advantage into a leaping, right-footed bicycle kick. The ball found the bottom left corner of the goal, where Timbers goalkeeper Donavan Ricketts had no chance to defend it.

“There’s no excuse,” Porter said, of the Timbers giving up a set-piece goal. “Mark your guy. Win the first ball, win the second ball. We’ve been a bit disorganized on the second ball. That’s exactly what happened on the first ball.”

Down 1-0 after dominating the entire match, the Timbers seemed stunned for the next five minutes. After the 35th minute, though, Portland regained focus. But despite the Timbers controlling .612 percent of the possession, the half ended 1-0.

“If they get up on you, they can bunker down even more,” Porter said. “They’re very organized. Unfortunately, they got the first goal. That allowed them to play a little deeper. We had chances, we had the ball, but I have to credit Montreal. They weren’t easy to break down.”

The Timbers dominated the opening minutes of the second half, as well. But, again, it was the Impact who fortune smiled upon.

Substitute midfielder Andres Romero chased down a ball just before it crossed the back line. Romero centered the ball back into the box for Felipe Martins. The Impact midfielder took a touch and fired a shot to the near post. The ball beat Ricketts, found the back of the net, and the Impact had a 2-0 lead.

“The second goal was a backbreaker,” Porter said.

The Timbers continued attacking, but Montreal’s backline held firm. On the occasions when the Timbers got behind the defense, Perkins was there to deny his former club.

Perkins finished the match with five saves, and he had numerous punch-outs on dangerous Timbers crosses.

The Timbers finally got on the scoreboard in the 80th minute.

Substitute midfielder Ben Zemanski took the ball on the right side of the pitch, just outside the 18-yard box. Zemanksi sent a cross into the 6-yard box, angling the ball toward the far post. Timbers striker Ryan Johnson made a run toward the ball and slid feet first. Johnson got his boot on the ball and sent it between Perkins and the left post to cut the Impact lead to 2-1.

“It was a great ball by Ben,” Johnson said. “I was trying to make sure that I was on the end of it and beat my defender to the spot. I just got the piece on it that I needed to put the ball in the net.”

The Timbers threw numbers forward and furiously pummeled the Impact defense, trying to find the equalizer. It was no use, though. The Impact held strong, and the Timbers were denied any points from the match.

“We could’ve possibly gotten the second one,” Johnson said. “But it just didn’t happen.”

Portland will have to bounce back quickly from the loss. Next week, the Timbers will travel to Seattle to face the rival Sounders at CenturyLink Field at 5 p.m. Saturday.

“We’ve got to get back to work on Monday and correct some things,” Porter said. “We’re doing a lot of very good things. But we’re also making mistakes we can’t make if we want to win games.

"There’s still a lot of points on the table. There’s a lot of games left. We can’t get too low here.”