Timbers chopped down in 3-0 loss to Galaxy

It’s sometimes taken for granted just how advantageous a home game can truly be, but the Portland Timbers were brutally reminded of that fact this past Saturday at the Home Depot Center in Los Angeles.

It’s sometimes taken for granted just how advantageous a home game can truly be, but the Portland Timbers were brutally reminded of that fact this past Saturday at the Home Depot Center in Los Angeles. Coming off back-to-back wins at Jeld-Wen Field, the Timbers couldn’t find their stride on the road, losing 3-0 to the LA Galaxy.

The Timbers fell flat against the star-studded Galaxy, a team that has been looking for answers offensively this year, having scored no more than two goals in any match-up so far this season. Portland seemed to be just what L.A. needed, as Galaxy captain Landon Donovan returned to the lineup after missing three straight games with a knee injury. Timbers’ goalkeeper Troy Perkins also returned to action after sitting out the first five games of the regular season with a right knee injury.

Things did not start off well for the Timbers, with the Galaxy dominating play right out of the gates. Only four minutes after the starting whistle, L.A. put pressure on Perkins in his debut for the Timbers, with Donovan getting a pass off to Oregon native Chad Barrett, who placed a shot inside the far post for a quick Galaxy score.

After taking a 1-0 lead only four minutes into play, the Galaxy continued to apply the pressure. Donovan was able to draw a foul on Timbers defender Rodney Wallace inside of the box, allowing him to take a penalty kick only eight minutes into the game. Donovan easily put away the penalty kick to give L.A. a commanding 2-0 lead before hitting the 10-minute mark and erased his previous scoring drought, a 731-minute time frame without a goal.

“We probably lost the game in the first 10 minutes, going two-nil down,” Timbers head coach John Spencer said to portlandtimbers.com. “I was disappointed that we conceded two goals in quick succession, it’s something that we are going to have to address, obviously. When you go down a goal, you can’t break down mentally. For the next five, 10 minutes, keep it tight. We’ve done it too many times now.”

Hope had not been completely lost by this point, but the exhaustion seemed apparent after the success the Timbers had seen in their two-game, seven goal scoring frenzy at home. Players looked sluggish and holes in the defense allowed the likes of Donovan and company to keep attacking.

Portland stepped up defensively after suffering the quick 2-0 deficit. Neither team scored throughout the remainder of the first half, with the Timbers only real scoring opportunity of the half coming just before the whistle blew. The shot came after defender Mamadou Danso put his head on a Jack Jewsbury free kick, but was diverted by Galaxy goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts.

The second half began slower than the first, but still a Galaxy defensive presence remained, preventing Portland from getting into any sort of rhythm. Newly acquired midfielder and the first-ever Timbers’ DP, Diego Chará, made his MLS debut to start the second half. Portland also brought in their prized MLS draft pick, Darlington Nagbe, in an attempt to interject some energy onto the field.

Neither team was able to execute much of an offensive attack until the 67th minute when Galaxy forward Juan Pablo Angel drove deep down the right wing and sent a perfect cross to Donovan, who put away a header to give L.A a 3-0 lead, the team’s largest margin of the season.

Things started to click late in the game for the Timbers, as Kenny Cooper had two separate shots on frame with one coming in the 71st minute of play and the second only nine minutes later. L.A. keeper Ricketts denied both shots in an impressive fashion. The Galaxy goalkeeper was solid all night and successfully shut down the Timbers offensive opportunities.

“I thought Donovan Ricketts had a great game,” said Timbers midfielder Jack Jewsbury to portlandtimbers.com. “We created chances. [Cooper] had a great chance and we had three or four off set pieces. So, obviously the final score when you look at it is disappointing. They definitely had the better run of play, but [Ricketts] had some big saves.”

Portland has struggled on the road with a 0-3-1 record away from Jeld-Wen, and currently holds an overall record of 2-3-1, good for sixth place in the Western conference. There’s still much improvement to make for the newly formed Timbers, as they lick their wounds and head back home to take on Real Salt Lake 7:30 p.m. this Saturday. ?