By James Morgan
Despite racking up their second MLS defeat with a 2-0 loss to Toronto FC on Saturday, the Portland Timbers looked an improved side over the one that took a solid drubbing at Colorado last week. While acknowledging that the Timbers are still very much a work-in-progress, coach John Spencer said of the match, “I don’t think the best team won the game, but at the end of the day, they[TFC] scored two goals and that’s what matters.”
The Timbers showed definite improvement in possession and were able to create numerous scoring opportunities out of set pieces. They outshot TFC 16-11, but tellingly, had only 4 shots on goal to Toronto’s 6. “They were good,” said TFC head coach Aron Winter. “They made it, especially in the first half, difficult because those two strikers gave a good impression up front.”
The Timbers also showed improved resilience and determination and pressed TFC hard following the first goal of Javier Martina’s brace. It was the second time in as many games that Portland went down a goal in the opening 15 and might well have been demoralizing, but to the contrary, was answered with increased energy and pressure.
In the end, however, a lack of consistency and inability to execute in the final third of the field felled the Timbers. They showed a want of clinical technique inside Toronto’s box. “Just a little lack of quality in the final front,” said Spencer.
Third-string goalkeeper Jake Gleeson came in at the half for Adin Brown who left on a hamstring injury. Gleeson gave up a goal on a beautifully played shot by Martino, but otherwise performed admirably. “I think he did fantastic,” said Spencer.
First-string goalkeeper Troy Perkins remains out of commission with a strained ligament in his right knee. There is no word on when he is expected to return.
Midfielder Sal Zizzo and forward Brian Umony both made their initial appearance for the Timbers, coming in as subs in the second half.
Defender Futty Danso was away The Gambia National Team and will also miss Tuesday’s U.S. Open Cup play-in match against Chivas USA at Merlo Field in Portland.