On the field Saturday night the Portland Timbers (5-6-2, 17 points) looked like the dominant team, controlling the run of play and sending dangerous volleys at Colorado goalkeeper Matt Pickens but it was a late winner from Rapids defender Drew Moor that secured the victory for the defending champions.
A bizarre sequence of events surrounded the game winner as moments before the goal, David Horst, filling in for Futty Danso, was whistled for the foul which sent Timbers coach, John Spencer, into an apparent tirade. After an earful, the fourth official, Allen Chapman, had heard enough from Spencer and called over the head official, Ablodun Okulaja, who promptly dismissed the coach to watch the rest of the game from the locker room. Said Spencer of the encounter, “That fourth official is a nobody trying to be a somebody. Tonight, he was a somebody. Unfortunately, (the ref) called a foul against us that I didn’t think was a foul and I told him that. I made a gesture and put my fingers across my nose and said, ‘You’re having a stinker. He can’t cover the ground, he’s blowing calls from 15-16 yards. A poor, poor performance by the referee.’”
Shortly after, the Rapids, took advantage of the disruption and put home the winning goal on a set piece to steal the game in stoppage time. Jamie Smith took the kick, sending a cross into the box and the midfielder’s ball found Timber’s defender, Eric Brunner which took a deflection off his head and bounced towards the goal which goalkeeper Troy Perkins was able to parry. Rapids forward, Caleb Folan pounced on the rebound and sent the shot right back into Perkins who again saved it. After a poor clearance by Timbers captain and midfielder, Jack Jewsbury, the ball deflected off of Rapid’s forward, Quincy Amarikwa, and the ball was quickly shuttled off by Folan to a streaking Moor who put home the winner in the 92nd minute.
A flurry of activity marked the end of the game as the Timbers looked to try to find an equalizer in the final minutes but as forward Ryan Pore’s shot sailed over Picken’s goal the referee’s final whistles confirmed that the effort was all in vain. With 18 shots the Timbers couldn’t find the back of the net and their scoring woes continue to haunt the team. Kenny Cooper had two shots on goal including a great strike in the 57th minute that forced Pickens to dive to the right to make a tremendous save to preserve the clean sheet. When shots were on target the man minding the net for Colorado gave his team all they asked for while the Timbers continue to allow opportunities to blow by as they continue to be unable to score from the run of play. While the team looked more dangerous than ever including great movement of the ball and players off the ball, handily winning the possession game, that did not translate into goals needed to come away with three points.
In a season where losses have been couched with moral victories, excuses can only get you so far. The Timbers will have to begin to bring results to please a rabid fanbase and the high expectations of the coach himself. Said Spencer before the game, “It’s a good test of character. We’ve now went two games without a win, can we get ourselves back on track?” With a playoff run a stated goal for the organization, the team will be on the hotseat. The Timbers prepare to welcome Thierry Henry and the New York Red Bulls to Jeld-Wen Field and the questions will continue to loom over a team desperate for answers.
Timbers Man of the Match
Troy Perkins, who put in another solid effort in a loss making six saves against the Rapids.
Timbers defender, ‘Futty’ Danso, left the game with a shoulder injury that is expected to keep the center back out two or three weeks. It is expected that David Horst will fill in for the injured Gambian international.
(image courtesy of Rick Bowmer/AP Photo)