Tragedy in the Rose City: Portland lose to Dallas 1-1

by Charlie Folkestad
Santiago Moreno against FC Dallas

In perhaps the most important match at Providence Park so far this season, the Portland Timbers drew FC Dallas 1-1 after over 100 minutes of heart-pounding soccer.

Marvin Loria’s penalty rebound gave Portland a breakthrough 1-0 lead deep into stoppage time following a VAR handball called against Matt Hedges. Timbers fans and players celebrated as if the match were over — after all, the five original minutes were up by the time Loria pounced on the rebound.

But there was still one last chance for Dallas, and their equalizer came in the worst possible way. A corner kick in the 10th minute of added time found to Diego Chara on the near post, and Portland’s diminutive hero unwillingly flicked the ball behind him and into his own net.

It was as tragic as a draw gets. Diego was one of two Timbers returning from suspension, alongside fellow Colombian Dairon Asprilla. Claudio Bravo and Eryk Williamson each played partial matches after returning from injuries.

It was an imperfect but fitting ending to what was a nervous game throughout.

Both teams battled to a scoreless stalemate in the first half, though it was far from boring. The Timbers created more chances, but Dallas had the most dangerous one.

Paul Arriola sprinted behind Larrys Mabiala and beat Aljaz Ivacic in the 28th minute. Thankfully for Portland, the shot was denied by the far post.

The Timbers took the shot as a wake-up call, pressing harder and working the ball into the half-spaces of the 18-yard box. Their ground crosses were more threatening than Portland’s usual brand of aerial ones, but just as ineffective. Forward Jaroslaw Niezgoda registered just 10 touches in the first 45, none of which were shots.

Dallas came out with their heads on fire in the second half, while the Timbers looked wholly unprepared and under-hydrated. They grew into the match more as the pressure turned up, and the additions of Sebastian Blanco and Nathan Fogaca helped, but it seemed clear this was not Portland’s night.

Arriola suffered another near miss as Ivacic stretched a fingertip to his 1-v-1. Alan Velasco lost focus at the last second right in front of goal.

Until the 92nd minute, of course. It wasn’t until Ted Unkel’s VAR check that Portland really looked like they believed they could win. Even so, everyone’s blood pressure probably would have favored a scoreless final.

In the end, there’s really not much to analyze. Crazy sh*t happens in Major League Soccer.

What we can analyze now is the table. Portland are technically above the playoff line, one point above Seattle after the Sounders’ loss today, though they have a game in hand. In reality, Portland are dead-even on points per match with Nashville for that final playoff spot.

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