Game 24: Timbers 1 – Austin 1By: mao | August 27th, 2010
Despite a man advantage and nearly 15,000 fans urging them on, Portland Timbers failed to take more than shared points from Austin Aztex at PGE Park on Thursday night. While a 1-1 draw against one of the league’s top sides is not a disappointing result on its face, the circumstances surrounding the draw make it yet another frustrating night in a season full of them. Bright Dike did get another goal, this time in the twelfth minute, but Portland were unable to keep the high-scoring Aztex from putting at least one on the board. The point does move the Timbers up to fourth place, one point clear of Carolina RailHawks, but still ten points shy of third place Austin.
Portland went a man up on 56 minutes when Yordany Alvarez was sent off for his second yellow card. Not long after that, Austin’s manager Adrian Heath was sent off for arguing a call with the referee’s assistant. Amazingly, Heath then tried to sneak into the stands in section 116 to watch the rest of the game, rather than sit it out in the dressing room as required. Timbers supporters in that section recognized Heath and had him removed. Amid what should have been confusion on the part of Austin, Portland simply could not do anything with the man advantage. That was party due to the Aztex shameful practice of time-wasting throughout almost the entire second half. Clearly every club wastes time when ahead, or less sportingly, when on a draw with a man down, but the degree to which Austin bent the rules to escape with a draw was a poor reflection on the character of their side.
As for the goals, Dike’s opener was a typical Dike goal, powering past his defender on the edge of the box and smashing a shot past goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo. Young Brazilian forward Sullivan Silva scored the Austin goal in the 26th minute on a shot where Timbers’ keeper Steve Cronin was shielded by his own defenders.
Throughout the match the Timbers were the better side, particularly offensively, at least up until the Austin box. As usual, everything broke down at the most critical point. Ryan Pore’s touch was not particularly good, neither Alex Nimo nor Rodrigo Lopez could offer a quality cross, Steve Purdy’s overlapping runs were a disgrace and Ibad Muhamadu, for all his skill in controlling the ball, could do nothing with it. Once again the downfall of this Portland side was it’s complete and utter lack of finishing. The defense played well enough to win, even surviving a goal-line clearance by Futty Danso when Cronin was caught well out of position. But once again a draw was the best the Timbers could muster.
The upside is of course that the Timbers have now gone four straight games without a loss, equalling their best run of the season. The point is helpful, though there are now just two home games left for Portland with away games still at Carolina, Puerto Rico and Vancouver. If Portland cannot take all three points from Crystal Palace Baltimore on the weekend and at least share points with Puerto Rico in their first encounter next week, the playoffs are still not a guarantee.