By James Morgan
It’s one thing to know about the holes in your game, and quite another to have them hammered home repeatedly by one of MLS’s best sides in what basically amounts to a blowout. The Portland Timbers knew they had a problem on deffense and probably knew that it would eventually come back to bite them in the ass, but coming off of two dominant wins at home as they were, they may not have fully grasped the severity of the issue.
If so, the LA Galaxy cured them of any misaprehensions Saturday night in a savage beating that ended 3-0 at Home Depot Center (HDC)in Carson, California. At no time in the match did Portland look the better team, and a dominant LA repeatedly bested the Timbers on nearly all accounts.
The beating of the proverbial red-headed step child that was Portland commenced early in the match when LA forward Chad Barrett, on an assist from forward Landon Donovan, sent a bullet into the net from the top of the box.
Matters immediately worsened for an inept-looking Timbers side, and in the eighth, Timbers mid, Rodney Wallace, earned a yellow card on a foul against Donovan who found the back of the net on the subsequent penalty kick, earning his first goal of the season.
LA continued to dominate on possession and passing for the rest of the half and the Timbers back-line, spread out by the wider field at HDC, looked even more porous than usual. The Timbers had a near miss just before the break on a Mamadou “Futty” Danso header off of a Jack Jewsbury corner, but LA goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts, who had an excellent night, was able to knock it away
At the half, the Timbers newly aquired Designated Player (DP), Colombian Diego Chará, came in for midfielder James Marcelin, as did LA mid Juan Pablo Angel for Migiuel López. With a fresh pair of legs and making his MLS debut, Chará added some energy to a seemingly demoralized Timbers side and the boys in green began to show some life on offense and threatened several times with shots on goal. However, Ricketts continued to excel, making several saves on potentially dangerous shots.
In the 67th minute Donovan scored a brace on a header off of a well-timed Angel shot across the box to the far post. The Galaxy took a 3-0 lead and the Timbers continued to struggle.
Timbers forwards Kenny Cooper and Jorge Perlaza put together a pair of scoring opportunities in the finjal 20 minutes, but again, Ricketts denied them.
With the loss, the Timbers drop to 2-3-1. LA improves to 4-1-3 to tie Real Salt Lake for the lead in both the Western Conference, and MLS overall.
Questions and Points of Interest:
The Timbers take on Real Salt Lake (RSL) next weekend at Jeld Wen Field. So far they have played well at home and looked dominant on offense. It will be interesting to see how this translates against RSL who have a demonstrated ability to play before hostile crowds, and who are, in any case, arguably the best team in MLS. If the Timbers cannot manage to shore up their leaky deffense between now and then, it seems likely that RSL will hand them their first defeat at home.
Diego Chará looked good in his debut, but by no means is he a known quantity and it remains to be seen whether or not he’ll be a success.