LA 5 – 3 Portland
What didn’t happen in the Portland Timbers game against the Los Angeles Galaxy at JELD-WEN field?
There was a goal in the third minute, four goals in nine minutes by one team, three players with two goals each, goals from penalty kicks, goals from set pieces, all bottled up in a stadium that provides for one of the best atmospheres in all of the MLS.
If you even blinked, you missed one of the most explosive, active, and amazing games of this 2012 MLS season.
With newly appointed head coach Gavin Wilkinson at the helm, the Timbers tried to use the backdrop of JELD-WEN field to win yet another crucial MLS match. Establishing a lead in the 3rd minute of the game on yet another brilliant goal by Kris Boyd, the Timbers could not fight back after surrendering five goals to the Galaxy, four of them coming in the span of nine minutes.
Heading into half down 4-2, both Portland and Los Angeles would score one more goal each in the second to leave the final score at 5-3.
David Beckham, Robbie Keane, and Kris Boyd had two goals each, with one more coming from Landon Donovan and Kosuke Kimura, respectively. Not only were there eight goals total in the match, that total tied for the highest amount of goals scored in a game this season.
For Portland, it was yet another reminder of their current woes. For Los Angeles, it was a pivotal game that sent a message to the rest of the top MLS teams.
Here is the love ‘em and hate ‘em from the Timbers’ lossagainst the Galaxy.
Goals are Back in Fashion
After being blanked in two of their past three games, the Timbers were able to strike for not one, not two, but three goals against a formidable Los Angeles Galaxy team that had scored a shutout against them in their previous meeting.
With two goals by Kris Boyd and a goal by Kosuke Kimura in his first appearance for the Timbers, Portland proved to the rest of the league that they can still score.
Though they may have ultimately lost the game, the Timbers should feel uplifted by the fact that they were able to once again use JELD-WEN to manufacture goals and put them back in the offensive state-of-mind.
Kris Boyd Continues to Shine
Easily Portland’s MVP and greatest newcomer of the 2012 season, Kris Boyd continued to shine in front of the JELD-WEN faithful. As mentioned previously in this article, Boyd scored two magnificent goals during the game, each coming at crucial moments when Portland needed to find a way to get back into the match.
The Scottish player used his power and finesse to come up with a goal off of a pass early on and had a brilliant set piece that he just put past the Los Angeles goalkeeper.
If there is any big bright spot for the Timbers this year, it is Kris Boyd.
Plenty of Opportunities
If anything else, at least the Timbers manufactured plenty of opportunities to score and put them back in the picture against the Galaxy on Saturday night.
Flexing their attacking mentality once again, the Timbers came away with fifteen shots, ten of them being on goal. In comparison, the Galaxy came away with fourteen shots and ten on goal, virtually the same numbers for the Timbers.
Taking this as a positive, the Timbers must continue to assert their physicality, speed, and attacking game plan as they continue on during the season.
One of the biggest issues for the Timbers in this game was their formation. Technically, they ran a 1-3-2-4-1 with five total midfielders.
While this was to try and repel the attack of Keane, Donovan, and Beckham, why would you try to try to adapt to a new form the day of a big game?
Sure, the Timbers did manufacture three goals in the night, but they also gave up five, five goals that were supposed to be accounted for and stopped by the five midfielders.
The Timbers would have been better served if they had played their normal formation like they did just over a month ago, when they held the Galaxy to just one goal…not five.
Where’s the Defense?
A loss to the Colorado Rapids — 3-0. A loss to Real Salt Lake — 3-0. A loss to the Los Angeles Galaxy — 5-3.
In three of the past four matches Portland has played, they have conceded at least three goals. If I am a striker, I want to play Portland right now.
To be giving up this kind of offensive production is inexcusable and something needs to be done about the defense. Despite changing their formation to fit a more defensive state-of-mind, Portland still gave up five goals.
While there can’t be any big drastic changes, Portland defenders need to be warned that if they don’t start to step up their play, substitutes will begin to come on early and often.
If that is what it takes — calling up players from the talented feeder teams — then Gavin Wilkinson should not be afraid to send a message.
After this loss to the Galaxy, the Timbers find themselves in familiar position — last place in the Western Division.
Though they sit there tied with FC Dallas with 19 points, it is hard for any Timbers fan to see just how tough luck has been for Portland this year.
Coupled with the fact that their rivals (Seattle) from the North can now boast about their impressive start to MLS play, the Portland Timbers need to find a way to turn around this season.
While some have advocated for playing for a high pick in next years draft, no Portland fan really wants that to happen. The talent is there, the coaching is there, and the fans are there now. There is no reason the Timbers should not be vying for an MLS playoff position right now.
Unfortunately, they sit in last place; a place that if they keep up this kind of play, they will remain in the rest of the year.
Playing with five midfielders.