The Portland Timbers failed to protect the fortress that is Providence Park as Lee Nguyen nets an 85th minute equalizer to earn a 1-1 draw for the New England Revolution.
Portland Timbers vs. New England Revolution: Lee Nguyen Equalizer Earns Away Draw for New England
The Timbers comfortably controlled the first half and were rewarded with the lone goal of the period. It came from an electric strike from Diego Valeri. The Timbers’ maestro volleyed home a failed clearance by Chris Tierney after a Diego Chara cross. It was Valeri’s fifth goal of the young season and it punctuated a half where the Timbers half 56% of the ball and launched eight shots.
That isn’t to say the Revs were without their opportunities. They actually had the first quality chance of the game in the fifth minute of play. Kelyn Rowe launched an ambitious shot that was earmarked for the top corner. Jake Gleeson was able to intervene with a diving save to keep the game scoreless. The Revs were able to break forward with pace on other occasions, but only managed that one shot on target on seven attempts.
The second half opened with a lot of comfortable possession from the Timbers. They held a lot of the ball early in the half, but really failed to produce anything with it. Valeri, Sebastian Blanco, David Guzman, Darlington Nagbe, and Fanendo Adi were providing a great deal of flashy play in the midfield and attacking third, but none of it was all that productive. They were looking comfortable on the ball, but their inability to create more than a couple of chances and, more importantly, a second goal allowed the Revs to hang around.
That said, New England will look at this game and immediately say they failed to put any pressure on the Timbers backup center backs. Juan Agudelo was never able to get himself open in the penalty area and was subbed off in the 69th minute. Kei Kamara had one open header that he put miserably wide while trying to win a penalty off Alvas Powell. Teal Bunbury was barely present after he was brought on to replace Agudelo.
However, Timbers allowed New England to remain in the game, and that led to the 85th minute equalizer from Lee Nguyen. A harmless shot at Gleeson was spilled right to the streaking Nguyen, who thundered the ball into the roof of the net without any difficulty.
The Timbers had a shot to retake the lead. Adi was given an open header of a Powell cross in the 88th minute, but he floated the chance high. Neither team was able to create anything during the six minutes of stoppage time and the 1-1 score stood at the end.
Portland Misses Their Starting Defense
The Timbers have been missing three of their starters in their back line for much of the season. Alvas Powell was, once again, the only regular starter in the lineup in this one. The unit held together throughout much of the match, but the breakdown was looming for 85 minutes. The defensive communication errors that allowed Lee Nguyen to burst through the line after Jake Gleeson’s fumble may not have happened if Liam Ridgewell were able to play.
Roy Miller had a fine game in reserve, but Lawrence Olum continues to struggle to keep up with quicker teams. Although it took 85 minutes, the Revs finally broke this makeshift pair down and provided a goal. Needless to say, the Timbers need their captain back to avoid breakdowns like this all season long.
Tough Road Point for Revs
New England still has not won a game in four tries in Portland, but they will take a draw there any time. They were able to bide their time and wait for the opportune moment to strike in this one without breaking down at the back against Portland’s fantastic attacking midfield. Lee Nguyen was their star. He did more than provide the tying goal, too. He was successful on 87% of his passes and was a ball winner in the midfield.
The Timbers remain atop the Western Conference with this draw. They have ten points on the year, but have played an extra game compared to their closest competition. New England moves up to eighth in the East with four points through four matches.