Portland Timbers 3 – 1 Philadelphia Union
*picture credit to (Steve Dykes/Getty Images) 2012 Getty Images
Portland Timbers 3-1 Philadelphia Union
51: Goal, Gabriel Gomez (Phi), unassisted
54: Goal, Andrew Baptiste (Por), Jack Jewsbury assist
66: Goal, Kris Boyd (Por), Kalif Alhassan assist
76: Goal, Kalif Alhassan (Por), Jack Jewsbury assist
Philadelphia Union: Zac MacMath, Sheanon Williams, Danny Califf, Calos Valdes, Porfirio Lopez, Gabriel Gomez, Brian Carroll, Freddy Adu (Jack McInerney 74), Michael Farfan (Keon Daniel 79), Josue Martinez (Danny Mwanga 60), Lionard Pajoy
Subs not used: Chase Harrison, Gabe Farfan, Amobi Okugo, Cristhian Hernandez
Portland Timbers: Troy Perkins, Andrew Baptiste, Rodney Wallace, Lovel Palmer, Eric Brunner, Kalif Alhassan, Jack Jewsbury, Eric Alexander (Darlington Nagbe 66), Diego Chara, Jorge Perlaza, Kris Boyd (James Marcelin 80)
Subs not used: Mike Chabala, Bright Dike, Jake Gleeson, Freddie Braun, Ryan Kowaluk
Portland Timbers - Philadelphia Union
3 – Goals – 1
12 – Shots – 4
8 – Shots on Goal – 2
7 – Corner Kicks – 1
8 – Fouls – 14
415 – Total Passes – 341
75.4% – Passing Accuracy – 70.1%
55.5% – Possession – 44.5%
The 2012 season doesn’t open the way any Union fan would have like it to, but to be completely honest I don’t think any of us should be surprised. With all the offseason moves the beginning of the season was bound to be a little messy. It doesn’t help that the first test of the new lineup was in very unfriendly territory against a strong Portland side. The obvious choice of two central defensice mids were included in the starting XI, and despite some scrambling in the back during the first half the scoreline stayed empty. Pajoy was a bright spot in the first hald, make some great runs behind the defense and showed some speed that could cause many a defense trouble this season.
Against the run of play it was debutant Gabriel Gomez who brought the game to life. His long range free kick was struck with dangerous pace and placement, with the help of a slight deflection off a Portland defender, found its way into the back of the net. That lead did not last long, however, as Andrew Baptiste, the defender that had gotten the deflection on Gomez’s goal just moments earlier, would level the scoreline as his header rolled toward MacMath who could not handle the combination of shot, turf, and wet conditions and the shot slipped through his hands. There was no looking back for the Timbers. Urged on by the Timbers Army Kris Boyd soon took the lead showing the touch that made him such a dangerous striker in Scotland. Kalif Alhassan would go from the assister to the scorer ten minutes later as the Union failed to deal with a quick free kick and Alhassan loops a chip over MacMath and just inside the far post. Despite the additions of Mwanga, McInerney and Daniel to the game the Union couldn’t muster a fight back and 3-1 would be the end score.
I firmly believe in the old saying, “You’re not as good as your best game, and not as bad as your worst game.” With that being said I don’t want to put too much stock in this game when looking ahead. There were a lot of things going against the Union. Four debutants. Slick turf. Very small field. Very tough atmosphere for away teams. However, the team can not be left off the hook completely. The backline was shaky at best. Even the usually reliable Sheanon Williams missed a few tackles that should have been safely cleared, but lead to dangerous chances for Portland. Lopez looked lost for large parts of the game, routinely getting turned around by Timber wingers. It was obvious Portland did not respect him and would constantly attack down that wing. Freddy Adu showed some signs of promise early, but seemed to get lost late, especially in the second half. Definitely a disappointing start for him. It should also be noted that Roger Torres did not travel with the team due to an ankle injury. His inclusion in this lineup could push Marfan back outwide and bring in the creative presence in the center of the park the offense was lacking.
Let’s look at the goals conceded:
1. A terrible tackle by Lopez that really should have been punished by a caution led to a dangerous free kick. Nowak talked about defending free kicks better, we maybe it should start with not making stupid fouls that lead to those free kicks. With all that being said, this goal was a howler for MacMath. It could well have been the wet conditions, but this is a save he had both hands on and he failed to deal with. He’s better than that and I know we’ll see better in the future.
2. The playe began with a ball down the wing by Jewsbury. Lopez was lazy getting back in front of his man and it allowed the Portland winger to gain possession. At that point Lopez stayed goal side, but allowed Alhassan to bring the ball back to his left foot and set up a pin point cross to Boyd. Danny Califf was left on Boyd’s back shoulder by a nifty move and the touch was world class by Boyd. Can’t really place any blame on Califf.
3. Jack Jewsbury sees that he and Alhassan are left to take a free kick, guarded only by McInerney and Mwanga. With six defensive players on the field I am amazed that every single one of them went to protect the six yard box. Jack did his best, but with a strikers instincts, he didn’t stand a chance defending the situation. It was a great shot by Alhassan, but MacMath may have been a few steps too far outside his goal and tempted the Timbers winger to try the shot. All credit for the great shot though.
This was not a good display by the Philadelphia Union, however I will point out that there weren’t many teams that really looked good this weekend. Unfortunately the Union did not have a weak opposition to cover up the bad performance with a good result. Sporting KC looked very sloppy, but got a late winner. Houston did not outclass a weak Chivas USA, but a late winner changed everything. Vancouver looked good, but then again they were playing a Montreal team that looked like they didn’t know how to defend, so the jury is still out. My hope is that by the time the Union get into the meat of the schedule, playing a lot of Eastern Conference opposition, they will have their act together and be playing a much more solid game.
Next on the schedule:
Sunday, March 18
4pm, NBC Sports Network
Philadelphia Union vs Colorado Rapids