The Portland Timbers came into Sundays match against the Vancouver Whitecaps on tilt after winning road matches against the New York Red Bulls and Chivas USA.
The Timbers looked ready to play and focused at the start of Sunday's match their third in nine days but their intensity soon waned, and Vancouver punched Portland in the mouth, taking a 4-1 lead in the second half.
The Timbers rallied, but fell 4-3 before an announced sellout crowd of 20,814 at Providence Park, with the 'Caps getting two goals on penalty kicks.
The result was unfair in my opinion, Portland coach Caleb Porter said. We scored three goals from the run of play. They scored two goals.
The Timbers went up 1-0 on a breathtaking goal by striker Maximiliano Urruti in the third minute.
Portland then fell behind 2-1 after being called for fouls in the box. Vancouver midfielder Pedro Morales buried PKs in the 15th and 25th minute.
A goal by striker Erik Hurtado in the first-half stoppage time sent the clubs into the locker room with Vancouver leading 3-1.
The Whitecaps went up 4-1 on a goal by Jordan Harvey in the 49th minute.
Portland substitute striker Gaston Fernandez scored in the 77th minute, and midfielder Will Johnson hit an 85th-minute goal, but that was all for the comeback attempt.
Vancouver outshot Portland 23-18. The Whitecaps put 11 shots on goal, while the Timbers had eight balls on frame. The Timbers had .549 percent of the possession.
The first half was a high-intensity, physical, chippy affair.
Urruti got an early pass in the middle of the pitch and, from 38 yards out, made a run toward the goal. With two Whitecaps defenders crashing in on him, Urutti fired from 25 yards. His blistering rocket found the top right-hand corner, where Vancouver goalkeeper David Ousted had zero chance to stop it.
The Whitecaps evened the score on a PK after Hurtado made a run into the 18-yard box on the left side. Just a few feet into the box, Hurtado got his feet tangled with Timbers midfielder Diego Chara. Referee Kevin Stott blew his whistle and gave the Whitecaps the penalty kick.
Ten minutes later, Vancouver midfielder Sebastian Fernandez was chasing a ball inside the box and got clipped by Timbers defender Jorge Villafana.
Im not going to talk about the PK goals, Porter said.
In the 36th minute, the crowd nearly stormed the pitch in disgust at a perceived injustice of penalty kicks awarded, as Urruti hit the deck inside the box but play went on.
If youre going to make calls, you better call it both ways, Porter said. Thats where I have a problem. Not the calls that were made, but the calls that werent made.
In the 44th minute, a melee broke out, when Portland defender Pa Modou Kah took exception to Vancouver trying to stall after a foul. Trying to get the ball back, Kah nearly tackled Fernandez. The sides came together, and there was plenty of pushing and shoving and shouting. Kah and Fernandez each got a yellow card.
The Whitecaps then went up 3-1 in stoppage time. Hurtado got a pass 10 yards from goal and had a step on the Timbers player marking him. Hurtado fired from inside the 6-yard box. The ball slammed into the chest of goalie Donovan Ricketts. It bounced back to Hurtado, off his knee, and into the back of the net.
Vancouver turned the match into a seeming romp in the 49th minute. Morales sent a pass to Harvey at the top left-hand corner of the 18-yard box. The Timbers failed to close in on Harvey, giving him all day to line up his shot. Harvey sent the ball to the bottom corner of the far post, and the Whitecaps had a 4-1 lead.
The Timbers made the score more respectable in the 77th minute. Midfielder Diego Valeri sent a beautiful cross into the six-yard box. It found the head of Fernandez, and the Timbers' substitute striker sent the ball in, to the far post, cutting the lead to 4-2.
The Timbers made the match even more interesting in the 86th minute. Substitute striker Fanendo Adi received a pass in the middle of the 18-yard box. With his back to the goal, Adi bounced the ball once, then twice with his right foot. On his second touch, Adi sent a pass to Johnson, who was streaking into the box unmarked. Johnson got the ball and buried the shot to the far post, making the score 4-3.
The Timbers will have what feels like a long rest before their next match on Saturday, when they travel to Utah to play Real Salt Lake.
Were going to move on, Porter said. Simple.