Portland Timbers fans are learning quickly to expect wall-to-wall action with their Major League Soccer team at home.
After giving up two goals with a 3-0 lead against Chicago on Thursday in their MLS home opener, the Timbers did the same thing against F.C. Dallas on Sunday and survived with a 3-2 win at Jeld-Wen Field following multiple Dallas assaults on the goal in extra time.
“Obviously, fatigue sets in,” Timbers coach John Spencer said. “We gave up another own goal, it kind of changes the momentum. … You give up a goal and then you start to feel the fatigue and tiredness even more.”
Timbers team captain Jack Jewsbury opened the scoring early in the game, putting Portland up 1-0 from the middle of the box in the 13th minute. Jewsbury’s shot initially caromed off the left post, but it struck the diving goalie in the back and bounced back into the goal.
Jewsbury, who made his 200th start in Major League Soccer, delivered the corner kick that resulted in a 2-0 lead with a header goal in the 35th minute by Kenny Cooper, a former forward for Dallas.
Portland added a third goal in the 55th minute by Rodney Wallace. But credit goes to Kalif Alhassan, whose spectacular footwork in the box evaded three attacks by Dallas defenders and provided Wallace with an uncontested shot from point-blank range. Alhassan’s quick feet produced two assists to boost to Portland’s offense.
The Timbers were cruising to their second straight home win until the last 10 minutes. F.C. Dallas scored two goals less than three minutes apart and Portland’s play was tense until the end.
Nerves and fatigue--a legitimate concern with the Timbers playing their second game in four days--gave Dallas numerous threatening chances at the end. League MVP David Ferriera scored the first goal of Dallas’ rally and hit the upright on another shot late in extra time.
The style of Portland’s win was much different Sunday than in its home opener Thursday. While the rain Thursday allowed the Timbers to create multiple scoring opportunities on lead passes and counterattacks, Sunday’s game required ball control and set plays to create scoring opportunities.
In the end, the Timbers called into question their reputation as a weak offensive team. Portland has scored seven goals in its past two games and its season average of 1.8 goals per game is near the top of the league early in the season.
The Timbers crowd kept pace with the standard it set Thursday. The game was announced as a sellout of 18,627, and fans stayed throughout the game despite long odds of a Dallas comeback. They left after the win with sighs of relief and a reminder never to call a soccer game early.
“The emotion of Thursday night and the emotion of today, it’s a new experience for a lot of these guys,” Spencer said. “It’s like walking out to an [English Premier League] crowd. It’s demanding because these fans have a lot of knowledge, have a lot of history behind this club, and I don’t think anyone in American soccer has played behind that.”