Winless Streak Hits 5
Same cast. Different setting. Same story.
For the third time this season, the Portland Timbers (1-4-1, 4 points) gave up another 1-0 lead as the Los Angeles Galaxy (2-3-0, six points) overcame the deficit in front of 22,143 at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. Stars Landon Donovan and David Beckham accounted for the bookend goals in the 3-1 defeat.
There was little for the Timber Army to love other than moral victories.
1). Scoring First
The Timbers scored first for the second consecutive match after failing to do so in the first three of their MLS campaign.
The team came out aggressive and looking to put the Galaxy in bind early, which they did, until giving up the 44th minute equalizer to Landon Donovan, his forst of the season, on a cross by Ireland’s Robbie Keane after defender Eric Brunner slipped.
The team has played consistently aggressive in the first 45 and needs to continue as Portland attempts to figure out how to earn points in this young MLS season.
The Timbers have been losing in ways that are both heartbreaking and maddening at the same time. In most sports, during a stretch of these losses one of two scenarios typically unfolds both privately and publicly.
A negative scenario is one where a team splinters and all team unity is lost. Players tend to spend less time in the locker room, publicly make passive-aggressive comments about their teammates and coaches and accelerate a team’s drop into an abyss (i.e. Portland Trail Blazers this season).
To the Timbers’ credit, they are doing the opposite and are taking accountability for their losses, no matter how bad they appear to the Timbers’ fan base.
So far, there has not been any credible chatter of dissension in the locker room or anybody calling for coach John Spencer’s head. Forward Kris Boyd emphasized that the loss to reporters that the team must stay positive and stick together. Truer words could not have been spoken more than those in Carson.
In order to close out games, players must be conditioned to within stand the mental and physical pressure that accompanies the second half of a game. Right now, the Timbers defense looks haggard down the stretch of games.
There is no secret to beating the Timbers.
All teams are doing is attacking the defense with a fury in the second half, knowing that the team is incapable of holding off pressure.
It is worth mentioning that the Timbers hired new fitness coach John Irelandtwo weeks, so it will be interesting to see how fit the squad looks in about a month’s time after Ireland has had the opportunity to infuse his regimen.
2). Second Half Offense
Where is it? The answer to this is rather simple: Playing defense. The team spent much of the second half on the wrong third of the field, trying to neutralize the Galaxy attack.
Nothing covers for a bad defense like a great offense, and for the first 45 minutes of a match, the Timbers are one of the better offensive teams in MLS. In the second halves, the team has scrambled to cut down the offensive blitzes applied by their opponents.
In those runs, the team cannot muster the poise to finish goal scoring opportunities. After the match, Spencer commented that goals change games in reference to how Donovan scored his first half goal. The statement is obvious to all soccer fans, and should be apparent to the attackers in his squad.
In order for this team to be successful, it is apparent that the defense cannot be relied on and the guys like Jack Jewsbury, Darlington Nagbe and Boyd must carry the burden of capitalizing on the scoring chances that they do create throughout the game.
3). “Fourth Quarter” Defense
It has been well documented at NWSportsbeat and everywhere else that the Timbers have failed to play quality defense in the second half, but allowing two goals in the last 20 minutes was hard to swallow.
Overall, the team has given up five goals in the last three matches in that time span, a stat that opposing coaches will likely be drilling into their forwards and midfielders during practices leading up to dates with the Timbers.
As a side note, Beckham’s first goal of the season, a free kick extra time in the second half was a turn back the clock moment that should have been embarrassing as a Portland Timber.
Portland’s free fall to the Western Conference cellar is complete as the Galaxy shot over the Timbers Western Conference standings.
Portland now trails the all-time series against the L.A. Galaxy 2-1-0 and have outscored the Timbers 6-1 in their two wins. The Galaxy are now 2-2-0 at the Home Depot Center this season.
Landon Donovan and David Beckham scored in the same match for the first time all season.
Up next for the Timbers is undefeated Sporting Kansas City (6-0-0, 18 points) at Jeld-Wen Field on April 21.
Full Match Highlights