A draw on the road in MLS should be enough cause for satisfaction. I know I should be glad to see the Timbers get a draw on the road (their first point on the road since May 15th). Let’s look at both sides of this and I’ll show you why I’m not satisfied with only one point.
Why last night’s match is not a good result.
It’s been a season long, maybe even arguably a MLS franchise problem, but The Timbers aren’t making in-game adjustments and aren’t learning from their mistakes. Where does one even start? Set piece defense? Man marking? Poor pitch vision and hesitation to make an aggressive offensive play? The bottom line: any consistent viewer of the Timbers saw Toronto’s equalizer coming. Paul Mariner made adjustments and started playing a higher line to start the second half. The Timbers didn’t make any noticeable changes and the inevitable happened.
On the first goal, two men (Jewsbury and Wallace) were “marking” Luis Silva. Well, at least they were supposed to be. Again, call it weak, lazy, even incompetent, but at this point in a season set-piece defense shouldn’t be so consistently inconsistent.
On the second goal, Toronto FC’s Ashtone Morgan beat Kosuke Kimura like the proverbial rented mule and fired in a beauty of a cross to an unmarked Hassli (Horst, where art thou?) which was then flicked to Silva for the goal. I love Kimura’s dedication to the PTFC badge and all, but a veteran MLS player has to do better there. Again, it’s something else happening way too frequently.
Why last night’s match is a good result.
Win-loss records are sometimes deceiving. On the surface, it definitely appeared that the Timbers were taking on one of the worst teams in MLS. The overall W-L-T records certainly indicate that, but Toronto was 4-4-4 going into the game since Mariner took over. Over their last 12 matches, the Timbers record is 2-7-3. As a comparison, fellow Western Conference rival Colorado is 2-10-0 over their last 12 matches.
If you take any MLS team with a .500 record and play them on the road, any away team should be happy with a 2-2 draw. Get the point on the road and win all three at home is the formula for making the playoffs in MLS.
The bottom line.
Unfortunately, last night’s 2-2 draw against Toronto FC just isn’t a good enough result. Sure the Timbers got two goals on the road (1st time since joining MLS) and came from behind in the 82nd minute (another 1st for the Timbers since joining MLS), but they did this against an absolutely depleted Toronto FC side. Missing from last night’s match were 2nd leading scorer Ryan Johnson (international duty), leading scorer Danny Koevermans (season-ending injury), starting center back Doneil Henry (international duty) and many others. Getting that 1-0 lead should have really been enough last night. Instead, one six minute stretch basically did the Timbers in. How many complete matches has this team played since joining MLS? Too few in my opinion and while there’s positive points to take from last night’s match, it’s definitely not good enough.
Here’s game stats from last night:
Portland Timbers (5-12-6, 21pts) at Toronto FC (5-13-5, 20pts)
Aug. 15, 2012 – BMO Field
Goals by Half 1 2 F
Portland Timbers 1 1 2
Toronto FC 0 2 2
POR: Zizzo, 21
TFC: Hassli, 57
TFC: Silva (Hassli, Morgan), 63
POR: Nagbe (Smith, Alexander), 82
POR: Mosquera (Caution), 85
Lineups & Stats
POR: GK Ricketts, D Kimura, D Mosquera, D Horst, D Smith, M Nagbe, M Jewsbury ©, M Chara, F Zizzo (Fucito, 66), F Boyd, F Wallace (Alexander, 77)
Substitutes Not Used: GK Bendik, D Danso, F Dike, F Mwanga, F Richards
TOTAL SHOTS: 10 (Four players, 2); SHOTS ON GOAL: 5 (Zizzo, 2); FOULS: 12 (Five players, 2); OFFSIDES: 1; CORNER KICKS: 6; SAVES: 4
TOR: GK Kocic, D Harden, D Eckersley, D Cann, D Morgan, M Lambe (Weideman, 46), M Frings ©, M Maund, M Avila (Amarikwa, 59), F Silva, F Hassli (Makubuya, 80)
Substitutes Not Used: GK Hall, F., M Cordon
TOTAL SHOTS: 15 (Frings, Hassli, Silva, 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 6 (Hassli, Silva, 2); FOULS: 9 (Hassli, 3); OFFSIDES: 1; CORNER KICKS: 6; SAVES: 3
Referee: Geoff Gamble
Assistant Referees: Claudio Badea, Kevin Klinger
4th Official: Abbey Okulaja
Time of Game: 1:52
Weather: Overcast, 73 degrees