Game 15: Dallas 4 – Timbers 0By: mao | June 27th, 2011
Portland Timbers suffered their worst defeat in the MLS era with an embarrassing 4-0 loss away to FC Dallas on Saturday evening. The Timbers allowed two goals in each half and easily could have surrendered more as Jackson twice hit the post for the home side. It appeared as though Portland were utterly unprepared for the Texas heat and were constantly outrun, second to loose balls and seemingly incapable of tracking back defensively. Dallas repeatedly took advantage of Portland’s penchant for sending outside backs forward and were able to isolate Jackson and Marvin Chávez on the Timbers’ retreating central defenders. So easily did Dallas batter the Timbers’ defense in counter attacks, John Spencer was forced to substitute Darlington Nagbe in favor of Adam Moffat, despite trailing 2-0 at half-time. Not only was the deficit the worst of the season for Portland, the four goals was a season high and the first time any Timbers team has allowed four goals in a game since a 4-0 loss to Atlanta Silverbacks in 2006.
The game actually started reasonably well for the Timbers as several free kicks were won in the first twenty minutes of the match. Those free kicks and three early corner kicks gave Portland several chances to the score sheet first, a scenario that would have been a first this season. The best chance of the early set-pieces came when Rodney Wallace collected a loose ball in the box but had his simple shot blocked by Kevin Hartman. Apart from a long range shot by Sal Zizzo late in the game, Wallace’s weak attempt was the only shot on goal for Portland. In the thirty-fourth minute Troy Perkins completely misread a corner kick and Dallas’ Zach Loyd snuck a poking header into the net for the game’s opening goal. Five minutes later, Kenny Cooper was badly beaten on a corner, allowing George John to power a header off of Perkins’ glove and into the net for Dallas’ second. From there the match was completely over for the Timbers. The final fifty minutes were an exercise in poor passing, spacing, effort and enthusiasm.
At half-time Spencer’s removal of Nagbe for Moffat seemed to shift the Timbers into a 4-1-3-2 with Moffat dropped deep in the midfield, almost as a sweeper. While Khalif Alhassan remained on the right, neither Jack Jewsbury nor Diego Chará replaced Nagbe on the left, leaving an unbalanced formation leaning heavily toward the right. When Zizzo replaced Alhassan just before the hour, that formation was reinforced. Though the addition of Moffat could do nothing to slow Jackson as he again darted into the middle of the Timbers’ defense, ultimately creating the situation that led to Brek Shea giving Dallas a 3-0 lead. Meanwhile Portland continued to launch long balls without a particular target and cede possession almost instantly. Spencer tried one final move to change the direction of the game, bringing on Eddie Johnson in the sixty-third minute in place of Jorge Perlaza. Only one combination ever materialized with Johnson though, as the pace of the Timbers’ attack remained stagnant. Ruben Luna was credited with Dallas’ fourth goal, though it was probably already over the line from yet another shot from Jackson.
This performance was utterly disastrous for the Timbers and deserving of every negative description. Spencer said it perfectly after the game, “From the first moment to the last, we never matched them at all, never got close to them, never tackled them, never ran with them, just a poor, poor performance.” Portland return home to host Sporting KC on July 2 as they tread just clear of the league’s bottom five clubs.