Soccer: Portland Timbers versus Dallas FC
Portland 3, Dallas 2: After the high of Thursday's historic home opener, you had to wonder how this game would go. Would Dallas spoil the party? I was at this game in person and wow, what at atmosphere! The Timbers Army chants and sings the entire match, non-stop. Fans everywhere couldn't wipe the silly grins their our faces. Everyone was in a jolly mood and it wasn't just the rare sunny day. You could feel the electricity in the air, a sense of history in the making and we were all a part of it. From the collection of TV news vans out front (every local station is covering the Timbers like mad), to the renovated stadium which, while it has the bones of an old soul (to mix metaphors), is beautifully redone. The old stadium always had a split personality as it also awkwardly housed a minor league baseball team. Now everything about the place is Timbers, with Timbers green everyone and the famous axe logo tattooed on everything. It is awesome. Our seats were up in the second balcony the stands, near center field, but it felt really close on the action. We did have "obstructed view" seats with a roof-support column a few seats in front of us, but it wasn't that bad as you could lean to see around it. Actually worse were the trio of TV cameras right in front of us as they obscured any action along the sideline and leaning or standing didn't help see around them. I don't think I'd want my season tickets there, but for this game it was fine. Timber Joey, the lumberman who revs his chainsaw and cuts off slabs of a giant log every time the Timbers score, came by several times. On two occasions he brought by a slab for everyone to cheer and perhaps touch (I'm starting the rumor that "touching the slab" brings good luck, cures cancer, and promotes world peace). The game itself was fantastic. Portland played beyond their skill. You could just see the team improving with every pass. Confidence just grew and grew and lesser players began showing off their tricks. While it was obvious Dallas players are more seasoned and polished, the Timbers played them out of the park. Don't let the scoreline fool you: this was a rout, plain and simple. Dallas could scarcely get the ball out of their own half and I counted dozens of occasions where when they tried, they were forced to play it backwards because there was nowhere to go forward. I was really impressed with the work-rate of our guys. We get our first goal 12 minutes in, via a ball fed back to an open Jewsbury just inside the box and he runs on to it and smashes it. It hits the post, comes off and hits GK Hartman in the back, and goes in! After going down a goal Dallas try to mount a comeback but the Timbers repel all chances and continue to attack. Off a corner kick in the 35th, Kenny Cooper skies to head home his first against his old team. Beautiful goal. Love the way he goes to lift up tiny John Spencer in his goal celebration. Dallas continue to get a lot of corner kicks, but don't do much with them. Portland think they've scored a third just a minute or so into the second half, but the goal didn't count as Perlaza was a hair offside. But Portland continue to press and when Dallas fail to clear Alhassan slips the ball through into space deep in the box and Wallace is there to stab home his second of the season. On the hour Cooper misses a near post crossed by inches. But Dallas have chances too, with Milton Rodriques nearly getting behind on a 1v1. They get a header chance after that, though it was going wide, it still showed danger. Around the 70th I thought Dallas looked dejected and beaten and they looked like they were just going through the motions. I figured it they got a goal it would have to be somewhat flukey. To their credit they keep trying and in the 83rd, David Ferierra runs onto a ball in the box and just gets there an inch before the defender and knocks it in at the near post. That goal inspires Dallas and rattles the Timbers, who start to struggle and panic a bit, and then Brek Shay makes a great play, running onto a high ball in the box. He gets there just before the keeper who had come out to close him down and his little pop-over shot gets over the keeper and suddenly the lead is only a single goal. Nail-biting time! Soccer can be an unfair game sometimes, but it is a 90-minute game and the Timbers have to play every minute. Twice now they've led by three goals and then allowed the opponent to creep back into the match. But like I told my friend, "Later in the season I'd be more concerned about giving up goals. Right now I just want to see them chalk up wins." The Timbers defend a little frantically, especially in stoppage time as Gleeson slaps away a cross for a corner kick. Dallas nearly get an equalizer with a shot at the near post that Gleeson is forced to tip up off the crossbar. Whew! Crazy stuff, but Portland hold on for the three points and now are in fourth place in the West and tied with the highest scoring teams in the league. Amazing.
Labels: Soccer MLS