Timbers rally falls flat in 2-1 loss

A spectacular day of Northwest sun was cut short at Jeld-Wen Field as the Timbers failed to slow down a surging Sporting Kansas City team, falling 2-1 after conceding two goals in the first 20 minutes of play.

A spectacular day of Northwest sun was cut short at Jeld-Wen Field as the Timbers failed to slow down a surging Sporting Kansas City team, falling 2-1 after conceding two goals in the first 20 minutes of play. However, the panic button hasn’t been hit yet, as the young Timbers roster is still learning and improving as a group. Perhaps the brightest highlight of the day came from Timbers draft pick Darlington Nagbe, who attained his first MLS goal in impressive manner, although the occasion was bittersweet. Timbers head coach John Spencer was disappointed with the team’s poor performance out of the gate, but knew that dwelling on the result would only slow them down before their two upcoming games in the next week, including a rematch at home against I-5 rivals the Seattle Sounders.

“Guys are on the ropes and we’ve got to get ourselves back on track,” Spencer said in a media statement. “The quicker we get back to getting the first goal and getting a little bit of confidence through ourselves again, that’s what we need. We’ve got another big game coming up, one on Thursday and then one on Sunday against our dearest rivals.”

However, problems arose from the starting whistle for the Timbers this past weekend, a team that has now fallen down to eighth place in the western conference after seeing an underwhelming 0-8-3 record on the road. Changes to the starting lineup were made by Spencer in an attempt to find an early scoring combination, leaving starting forward Kenny Cooper on the bench.

The changes were apparent when the players took the field, as a sense of confusion was in the air with the absence of both Cooper and defender Jeremy Hall from the starting lineup. Sporting Kansas City didn’t take their foot off the gas in the first half as forward Omar Bravo was able to connect with midfielder C.J. Sapong after dissecting the Timbers’ defense, and Sapong put in an easy shot past Timbers keeper Troy Perkins. The goal came only 15 minutes into play and only four minutes more would pass before KC seized another opportunity.

Defender Matt Besler heaved a throw-in pass to Sapong who was able to head the ball across the six-yard box to an open Aurelien Collin. Collin timed his jump perfectly and connected, heading the ball just inside the corner of the goal, past a confused Perkins to give KC a 2-0 lead.

In the 45th minute of play rookie Darlington Nagbe was able to make the highlight reel, drilling in a goal that was nothing short of incredible. Jack Jewsbury lobbed a freekick at the goalbox in hopes for someone to connect, but instead Sporting KC goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen was able to punch the ball out of the 18-yard box. The attempt at relieving pressure on the goal was unsuccessful though as the ball fell right to Nagbe, who juggled the ball twice with his right foot before arching it over the cluster of players and into the far corner of the net. Hope was once again alive in the home crowd as the Timbers cut the deficit to one, going into the half with momentum on their side.

However, the strong finish to the first half seemed to end as quickly as it began, as four different shot attempts from the Timbers were missed and time to equalize eventually ran out. The final hope for Portland came in the closing minutes as former Sporting KC player Jewsbury launched a ball on frame from 25 yards out, but the shot went just wide of the post, locking Kansas in for a 2-1 victory.

The poor result is another in a string of losses for the Timbers, who have now gone 0-3-1 at Jeld-Wen after starting with an incredible 5-0 home record. With Club America making their way to Portland for a Thursday match-up and the Sounders game on the horizon for Sunday, there is plenty of work for Portland if they plan on getting rid of the six-game winless streak that is now haunting them.

“I think guys need to continue to have that belief that we’ve got to continue to fight and continue to work hard for one another,” Timbers captain Jewsbury said in a media statement. “And knowing that that’s the only thing that’s going to get us out of this rut.”

Halfway through the season and the Timbers now have a 5-8-3 record overall with 18 total points in the standings. Perhaps a little amnesia will come in handy for the Timbers to forget their recent woes before facing two strong competitors this week. Kick-off for the Club America friendly is set for 5 p.m. on Thursday evening.  ?