(Columbus, Ohio)- The Timbers three-game win streak to open the season came to an end Saturday night in Columbus. A late winner from rookie Niko Hansen sealed their fate as a lack of attacking options hurt the Timbers when all was said and done. The absence of David Guzman and Darlington Nagbe, who were both away on national team duty, loomed large as Portland failed to link their midfield with the forwards all night long.
Timbers Fall to Crew SC for First Loss of the Season
High Flying First Half
Goals were flying off the shelves in the opening 45 minutes. It started early on when the Timbers took the lead in the fifth minute through Dairon Asprilla. Asprilla, who was in the lineup for Nagbe, got loose along the right side of the penalty area and slotted his shot home inside the far post. The lead would not last for long, however. Justin Meram would slip a shot past Jake Gleeson on an 11th minute corner.
Crew SC clawed in front eight minutes later. Ola Kamara was able to chip over Gleeson after the Timbers keeper’s indecision cost him. He didn’t quite go out to meet the long ball aimed at Kamara, but he also didn’t stay in his net, which provided a wide open target for his shot.
The Timbers would get back on terms with the last action of the first half. Alvas Powell picked out Fanendo Adi in a crowded penalty area and the Nigerian center forward blasted his shot through three defenders into the top corner of the goal.
Crew SC Controlled Second Half
Crew SC held much of the second half possession and got the better chances as a result. The Timbers struggled to win the ball from them without racking up tons of fouls. Sebastian Blanco and Diego Chara were both lucky not to receive second yellows thanks to their persistent infractions. They would come to regret their inability to go forward when Hansen found the winner in the 84th minute. Poor center back play allowed him into the penalty area to catch a rebound off an Ola Kamara shot.
No Creativity, Poor Counter Attacking for Portland
The Timbers struggled in the midfield throughout the match thanks to Diego Chara lacking his strong midfield partner, David Guzman. Nagbe, away with the USMNT for World Cup Qualifiers, could have provided some defensive contribution along the Crew’s left flank. Asprilla, despite his pace going forward, was unable to pick up the slack in the back.
Caleb Porter spoke of the team’s lack of creativity in the second half and felt the team deserved a point from the match.
“I didn’t think we created enough in the second half,” he said multiple times after the match. “My number one takeaway is that we have to get out of this game, on the road, with at least a point. Because we were in position to do that and we can’t concede that late goal.”
The lack of Nagbe was a problem throughout the game. Porter said he could have helped create more on the counter. Amobi Okugo expressed this after the match. “Nagbe is a national team player, we know the quality he brings.” Porter echoed those concerns as well. “Obviously, with Darlington in there we would have found a few more counter attacks. His ability to drive out of midfield and transition probably would have found a few more chances.”
The Timbers will have to move along from this difficult road loss as they head back home next weekend. They will take on New England Revolution next Sunday night at Providence Park.