October 7th, 2012 by Michael Orr
Portland Timbers gave up goals to the Seattle Sounders’ top offensive threats and contributed an own-goal in a 3-0 loss at CenturyLink Field on Sunday evening in front of 66,452. Futty Danso’s 25th minute own-goal sparked a disastrous stretch where the Timbers conceded a second goal, to Eddie Johnson, and concluded with Fredy Montero hitting the post. “We dug a big, big hole for ourselves. The back line lost their shape and we were scrambling. We were lucky for it not to be 3-0 down in the first half…But once you’re 2-0 down, you’ve got a big hill to climb,” Timbers manager Gavin Wilkinson explained after the game.
Of the three changes to the back four, Hanyer Mosquera’s absence at center back was felt the most. Said Wilkinson, “I think we missed Hanyer Mosquera tonight. I think David [Horst] and Hanyer have struck up a decent partnership and a decent awareness. When you make a change in the middle at the back, obviously there’s a few concerns, and chemistry is one of them.” Poor play at the back left Montero and Johnson space to exploit and ultimately punish the visiting Timbers.
Portland looked discombobulated after the first half barrage and could never get back to the reasonably coherent start that nearly led to another headed goal from Rodney Wallace. After the left back’s header missed wide left in the 17th minute, Portland was overrun for the remainder of the first half, particularly in the midfield. Franck Songo’o moved to a central role before half-time but it did not provide the spark his switch with Darlington Nagbe made in the recent home game against DC United.
An exasperated Wilkinson did not mince words when answering questions about his team’s performance. “You take ten minutes out of the first half where we were absolutely horrendous defensively and didn’t manage the game well at all and were scrambling, we started to create some decent movement, created decent chances. I think we handed it to them.”
Having worked through his perspective in explaining the Timbers’ sixteenth away game this season without a win, Wilkinson referenced the impending roster shake up that is expected to take place when Caleb Porter takes over as manager in December. “We learned a little bit tonight about certain individuals. It’s going to be an evaluation process through to the end of the year,” Wilkinson said, echoing his comments from nearly every training session and game since Porter’s introduction.
Portland must now defeat Vancouver Whitecaps at BC Place on October 21 in order to secure the Cascadia Cup that just a month ago seemed so eminently within grasp. Seattle currently leads Portland by a single point but carries a +4 goal difference, while Portland has a -1 difference. Those circumstances and the tie-breaker system will require the Timbers to do something they have not done once since October 2, 2011 – win on the road.