A cold, windy match still had plenty of room for heated moments: bicycle kicks, penalty shouts, cautions, and chances galore littered the turf at Providence Park.
The game was “exciting, competitive, it had great intensity,” according to Timbers head coach Giovanni Savarese.
The Portland Timbers opened their 2022 season with a 2-2 home draw against the New England Revolution on Saturday. The reigning Western Conference champions overcame two second-half deficits in spectacular fashion, taking the reigning Supporters’ Shield winners down to the wire.
Yimmi Chara’s spectacular bicycle kick leveled the match in the 78th minute after Revolution debutant Sebastian Lletget finished a left-footed shot into the far post.
After the match, Yimmi called his goal a “chilena” rather than a “chalaca.”
“It was the only moment we got exposed in the wide areas,” Savarese said of New England’s second goal. “They’re a good team, so they were able to capitalize.”
New England’s Brandon Bye headed in a corner kick off the crossbar five minutes before halftime, but Dairon Asprilla finished a lovely feed from Santiago Moreno in the 60th minute to make it 1-1.
Both teams had plenty of chances in the first half — Portland from their fluid play and New England from set pieces. The Revolution created six corner kicks in the first half alone.
The Timbers improved in the second half, outplaying the visitors save for switching off during Lletget’s goal. A draw is never the hopeful outcome for a home match, but considering Portland’s litany of absences, it seemed acceptable.
“I felt we got some very good moments,” Savarese said. “We found more opportunities than they did, but they’re a tough team to play against…Overall, I thought it was very very good as a soccer game.”
Prior to the match, Portland unveiled their “2021 Western Conference Champions” banner. A moment of silence was held for Ukraine.
The Timbers Army elected to not raise a customary tifo, instead sending would-be expenses to programs that benefit victims of domestic violence. This was in response to offseason revelations about former Timbers midfielder Andy Polo, whose contract was terminated.
— Savarese started Aljaz Ivacic in goal over David Bingham after an offseason battle for the position. Santiago Moreno also got a big start as Sebastian Blanco recovers from a late-2021 injury. Jaroslaw Niezgoda and both center backs (Zac McGraw and Bill Tuiloma) got starts due to other injuries (Felipe Mora, Dario Zuparic, and Larrys Mabiala).
— New England were without star goalkeeper Matt Turner, who picked up an injury in the U.S. Men’s National Team’s latest World Cup Qualifying match. Earl Edwards Jr. started in his absence.
5′ — Moreno missed the first big chance of the game, and it was a massive one. The ball was slid right into his path at the top of the box, and Moreno put it where Earl Edwards Jr. could save it.
He was ready. pic.twitter.com/AXluHKghIT— New England Revolution (@NERevolution) February 27, 2022
41′ — Brandon Bye leaps for a headed goal. Portland had trouble clearing their lines on set pieces all night.
Set pieces yesterday, today and forever. pic.twitter.com/4iDhGX30Dl— New England Revolution (@NERevolution) February 27, 2022
60′ — Asprilla finishes with his left off a beautiful feed from Moreno.
63′ — Just three minutes later, the Revs re-took the lead.
78′ — Portland’s push for another equalizer paid off in the best way possible.
— Blanco wasn’t able to start, but he did come on for Moreno in the 83rd minute. Despite late chances both ways, neither team could break through. The match ended 2-2.
The Timbers travel to Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles to face LAFC on Sunday, March 6th at 7 p.m. The match will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1.