The Portland Timbers (7-15-9, 30 pts) scrambled back from a dodgy penalty kick call thanks to a classy Bright Dike equalizer in the 80th minute to draw DC United (15-10-6, 51pts) 1-1 in a Saturday night sellout at Jeld Wen Field in Portland.
Three thoughts on the match…
* Clear PK or not?
In my opinion assistant referee Kermit Quisenberry blew it. Is it any surprise that there was a questionable call (or two or three) in an MLS match? The ball may have nicked the underside of David Horst’s arm/armpit, but it sure doesn’t look like the direction changed. Even if it does, I don’t know how Quisenberry can clearly be 100% sure of it. I will see this though, if Horst doesn’t jump like he’s trying to do his best Nic Tatum impression, I’m not sure that call even happens.
Watch the video above and be as objective as you possibly can. Do you think it’s a clear penalty? Watch the DC United players. Only Perry Kitchen even reacts to the non-call. To me, I just don’t see how an assistant referee in real time can be absolutely sure that ball hits Horst.
Regardless of the call, the point is, as some of us discussed on Twitter this morning, you need to create your own bit of luck in this league because the referees are simply a wildcard that you can’t control. The Timbers clearly don’t do enough of that.
Look at it this way. The San Jose Earthquakes had yet another come-from-behind goal to get a draw against FC Dallas. Again, it came from a late goal by Steven Lenhart. Are the Earthquakes simply lucky? Maybe, to a certain extent, but they create that luck by throwing everything they have into the final third to get that goal.
Moral to the story? The Timbers need to be more proactive on the pitch. Until that blown call, the Timbers were pretty much lifeless out there. For the first time ever, I nodded off for a few minutes here and there during the first half. Part of it was that I’ve been solo with my three year old since Friday, so I’ve basically been up at the crack of dawn. But part of it was there was a distinct lack of energy out there. It shouldn’t take a blown call to get a team pissed off and motivated.
Here’s what captain Jack Jewsbury had to say about the team’s play after the DC United goal:
“I thought our reaction after that was very good from the group. We continued to press, press and press until Bright [Dike] got the goal, and then had a few more chances. To not put our heads down and continue to fight was good tonight.”
Sorry, that’s all well and good, but it’s too little, too late. That emotion and reaction needs to happen the minute the team walks onto the pitch.
* Some Bright Dike stats…
Games Played: 9
Games Started: 6
Minutes Played: 641
Shots on Goal: 7
Game Winning Goals: 1 (tied for team lead)
Goals/90 minutes: 0.56 (leads team)
Scoring %: 18.2 %
Compare those with other players (Timbers and other random goalscorers in MLS):
- Kris Boyd: 1893 minutes, 7 goals (63 shots & 28 shots on goal), 1 game winning goal, goals/90 minutes = 0.33, scoring % = 11.1
- Alan Gordon: 1230 minutes, 13 goals (42 shots & 25 shots on goal), 4 game winning goals, goals/90 minutes = 0.95, scoring % = 31.0
- Steven Lenhart: 1379 minutes, 10 goals (56 shots & 30 shots on goal), 2 game winning goals, goals/90 minutes = 0.65, scoring % = 17.9
- CJ Sapong: 1940 minutes, 7 goals (51 shots & 20 shots on goal), 4 game winning goals, goals/90 minutes = 0.32, scoring % = 13.7
- Kenny Cooper: 2251 minutes, 16 goals (78 shots & 43 shots on goal), 6 game winning goals, goals/90 minutes = 0.64, scoring % = 20.5
I’m not sure this tells much of anything since statistics in soccer can be pretty ambiguous, but it tells me that Dike has earned a spot on this team. Remember, he’s played less than 750 minutes in his brief MLS career. I think he’s shown some improvement in many of the games he’s played and at the very least, can be a valuable 3rd striker who can come off the bench and provide some energy and goals. I get that Dike has his flaws (suspect 1st touch and shooting accuracy namely), but I’d hate to see the Timbers give up on him and get rid of him. I saw Columbus fans tweeting last night how they regretted losing Dike. For a team finding goals difficult to come by, I think losing Dike would be a mistake.
* A Cascadia Cup update
Here’s a look at the latest Cascadia Cup standings
Yesterday’s 0-0 draw between Seattle and Vancouver kept the Timbers in the driver’s seat for the Cascadia Cup. The draw eliminated Vancouver from any chance for the Cup but they can still play spoiler, especially if Seattle gets 3 points next Saturday against Portland.
Essentially, the Timbers win the Cup if they draw or win against Seattle. Because they have a game in hand, the Timbers could still win the Cup if they lose against Seattle, but they would need a win against Vancouver.