How the Timbers can rebound from a tough loss at Dallas

by Charlie Folkestad
Dario Zuparic is fully healthy after getting a few minutes of action against FC Dallas.

The Portland Timbers were destroyed by a more motivated FC Dallas side 4-1 last weekend. They now look to rebound against Orlando City at home on Sunday.

What went wrong?

Portland surrendered acres of space and 55% of possession in the first half in Frisco, Texas. Jesus Ferreira’s 36-minute hat trick came in a span of just ten minutes. Each of his goals placed blame on a different part of Portland’s defense.

The first goal saw both Timbers center backs fall behind their offensive counterparts after Dallas winger Alan Velasco exploited the wide space on Portland’s back line.

The second was a walk in the park for Ferriera, who received the ball and turned way too comfortably at the top of the box before finishing an unmarked header seconds later.

Ferreira’s third was a mistake by goalkeeper Aljaz Ivacic, though most of the backline and defensive midfield can take some blame here too for failing to close down the ball.

Portland played better in the second half. Jaroslaw Niezgoda scored with a fantastic touch and finish off a Sebastian Blanco feed, but a big missed chance from Dairon Asprilla and a great save from a David Ayala laser kept the Timbers on one goal.

Dallas’ Paul Arriola sealed the win in the 77th minute, capitalizing off of a giveaway from Ayala.

Overall, the Timbers couldn’t overcome a plethora of injuries and an unmotivated first half performance.

What can be fixed?

Portland are getting plenty of help back. Former starting center back Bill Tuiloma is out on international duty with New Zealand, but both regular starters Dario Zuparic and Larrys Mabiala are healthy enough to play.

Eryk Williamson should also be back soon after finally recovering from last year’s ACL injury.

Theoretically, those additions should help the defense, too. But it’s the attack that needs to kick into gear against Orlando, who’ve conceded only two goals from their first three matches.

Sebastian Blanco might not be able to start yet, but pencil him in as a super-sub at worst. The Colombian trio of Asprilla, Santiago Moreno, and Yimmi Chara are more than capable of scoring goals. As has been the case all season, it will be up to Niezgoda to step up and be a threat in the box.

Maybe more importantly, though, Portland’s home field advantage will be in full effect. Four of their five points have come from two home matches.

Prediction

This is a match Portland should unequivocally win. Orlando have only conceded two goals, but they’ve only scored four. They were blessed with a poor performance from Julian Araujo and the LA Galaxy last weekend, winning 1-0 in Carson.

Orlando have a dynamic Uruguayan winger in Facundo Torres alongside former AC Milan striker Alexandre Pato. Timbers fullbacks Josecarlos Van Rankin and Claudio Bravo will definitely have to be better.

I think Portland wins this match 3-1 with at least one goal from Niezgoda.

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