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No 'W' in Portland

Second-half Chivas USA goal earns 1-1 draw with winless Timbers


The Portland Timbers continue to find ways not to win.

Against Chivas USA on Saturday night, the Timbers looked as if they were finally going to claim their first win of the MLS season. Portland had spent the majority of the match holding on to a 1-0 lead after a sixth-minute goal by Will Johnson.

In the 79th minute, though, a defensive breakdown by the Timbers led to Chivas striker Erick Torres scoring the equalizer.

And with that, the Timbers again left points on the table with a 1-1 draw before an announced sellout crowd of 20,814 at Providence Park.

“We want to win,” Timbers coach Caleb Porter said. “Anything that’s not a win is going to feel like a loss. At home you need to win games.”

While Porter did not break from his cool, calm and collected persona after the match, the signs of stress and frustration showed through with the players and owner Merritt Paulson.

Just a few minutes after the match, Paulson was leaning over a skywalk having a fiery exchange with fans below him before storming into his office.

Only two Timbers players, goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts and defender Michael Harrington, came into the locker room after the match to talk to the media. The rest of the side slipped out of a back entrance to the shower where they could avoid having to do interviews.

Torres’ goal was another example of how the Timbers continue to suffer mental breakdowns at the worst possible moment.

Chivas midfielder Leandro Barrera took the ball on the right side, in the Timbers' defensive third. Barrera dribbled toward the end line, then sent a cross to Torres, who had slipped past Portland defender Pa Modou Kah. Torres got the ball three yards from the goal and, Ricketts out of position, all Torres had to do was tap a shot into the back of the net.

“Torres was a key,” Porter said. “It’s unfortunate he got loose.”

Had the Timbers (0-2-4, 4 points) won, it would not have been a pretty victory.

Chivas controlled the possession, keeping the ball .524 percent of the match. Chivas had 13 shots and put two balls on frame, while Portland had eight shots and three shots on goal. Chivas had a 10-2 advantage in corner kicks.

The Timbers got on the board early, capitalizing on a lazy defensive play by Chivas.

In the Timbers' attacking third, a Chivas defender's attempted clearance turned out to be a perfect pass to Portland striker Darlington Nagbe. A Nagbe pass found Johnson at the top of the 18-yard box. Johnson took a touch and, with no one between him and the goal besides goalkeeper Dan Kennedy, sent a shot to the bottom right corner, where Kennedy had no chance of stopping it.

Portland, looking desperate for three points, moved the ball up the pitch throughout the first half.

Chivas USA (1-2-3, 6 points) began controlling the match in the second half.

The Timbers came close to scoring during the six minutes of stoppage time. Johnson took a free kick from 25 yards that cleared the Chivas wall but banged off the right post.

The Timbers' quest for a first win in 2014 hits the road, with Portland at Real Salt Lake on Saturday. The Timbers then play at the Houston Dynamo on April 27.

“We’re behind the 8-ball,” Porter said.