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Saturday, August 17, 2013

Timbers vs. FC Dallas—High-Pitched Live Blog Action!

Posted by Brian Gjurgevich on Sat, Aug 17, 2013 at 7:45 PM

FCD_PTFC.jpg

Stack it alongside a 15-game unbeaten streak, and you can make nearly any stretch look like a slump.

We're LIVE at The Jelly, where your Portland Timbers host FC Dallas in an 8ish p.m. match that pits two supposedly struggling sides.

Yes, Portland is 1-3-2 in its last six matches—a slight dip that's seen them eliminated from the US Open Cup, cede a bit of momentum and generate the kind of hand-wringing that comes when expectations rise. Back at it after a 10-day layoff, the Timbers find themselves in a Spanx-tight Western Conference playoff race: Portland sits one point out of second place...and two points out of seventh.

So are they slumping right as the season hits its home stretch? PTFC coach Caleb Porter doesn't think so.

"Everybody thinks we are in a slump right now. I mean, a slump is when you lose multiple games in a row,” Porter said earlier this week. "These guys never lose an edge. We’ve built them to be alpha dogs. We built them to be aggressive and confident and proactive and to not back down."

The Hoops, on the other hand, may actually—technically—be slumping. Dallas is winless in 10 matches—nearly three months—and hadn't scored in five matches before breaking through in a 3-3 draw at LA.

Color Porter not impressed.

"Everyone is talking about Dallas being in a slump," he said on Friday after training. "It is easy to forget that they were on of the best teams in the first half of the year. They are still the same team. They have lost a little bit of confidence, but overall they are a dangerous team and they know they can turn the tend of the season around here by getting a result."

That'll be a tall order, despite the fact that Portland will be without the services of Capt. Will Johnson and fashion plate/forward Frederic Piquionne: The Timbers are 2-0-1 against Dallas already this season and haven't lost in eight tries at home. Can they keep it going and dump all the slump talk?

Only one way to find out (OK, that's not even remotely true, but let's just go with it): Click past the jump and follow along, as I deftly describe the action—on and off the pitch.

LINEUPS:
Dallas (8-6-9, 33 pts)—Raul Fernandez in goal. Michel, George John, Matt Hedges and Kellyn Acosta on defense. Erick, Mauro Diaz, David Ferreira, Fabian Castillo and Jackson at midfield. Blas Perez up front.
Rounding out the 18: Chris Seitz, Jair Benitez, Ramon Nunez, Stephen Keel, Je-Vaughn Watson, Walker Zimmerman, (Former Timber) Kenny (Fucking) Cooper.

Portland (8-3-11, 35 pts)—Donovan Ricketts in goal. Alvas Powell, Andrew Jean-Baptiste, Pa Modou Kah and Michael Harrington on defense. Diego Chara, Diego Valeri, Ben Zemanski and Darlington Nagbe at midfield. Ryan Johnson and Rodney Wallace up front.
Rounding out the 18: Milos Kocic, Jack Jewsbury, Raushawn McKenzie, Ryan Miller, Kalif Alhassan, Sal Zizzo, Jose Valencia.

PREGAME: Ricketts is wearing the armband with Johnson sidelined. Despite nursing a tender ankle, Cap'n Jack is in the 18. Dallas is without cogs Andrew Jacobsen and Zach Loyd.

It's Military Appreciation night, and there's a 17-troop honor guard holding a giant flag near midfield. Storm Large will sing the anthem BECAUSE AMERICA! She wears a green dress and kills it.

Timbers are sporting their Rose City red kits, while Dallas is sporting blue hoops. A bit of a slow-arriving crowd has filled in under clear skies in Goose Hollow.

FIRST HALF: And away we go...Timbers headed toward their Army.
1st minute—Timbers Army chanting "DODGY KEEPER" at the least dodgy keeper in the league.

3rd—Back-and-forth start without a ton of sustained possession early from either side.

5th—Diaz gets around a defender and fires a shot from just inside the 18. No problem for Ricketts, who bends down and gathers it with his giant yellow gloves.

6th—Michel sends a cross right in front for Jackson, but it's cut off by Harrington, who knocks it over the byline. Foul is called on Jackson, who pushed Harrington from behind. Good luck for Dallas there, though.

8th—Powell sends one in from out wide, but Fernandez comes off the line to grab it. No trouble there, but a good early touch for the youngster Powell. He found himself in some good spots a few weeks back in his debut, it'll be interesting to see if he can make better use of them tonight.

9th—Valeri taken down along the east sideline by Hedges. He wants the foul call as much as Timbers Army does, but no whistle.

10th—Timbers will have their first corner after Powell shows some fancy footwork and spins a defender around twice. Corner comes in and Wallace gets a head on it, but it bounces behind him.

11th—Another corner after Powell finds himself in another good spot and a Dallas defender is forced to poke it away. Valeri sends it in and forces Fernandez to leap and punch it out. In the ensuing action, Wallace nearly nets one on a shot from the top of the box (after breaking a defender's ankles) but it's just high and wide. Made Fernandez leap, though, so you know it was too close for the All-Star's comfort.

14th—Jackson turns and fires a cross to nobody in particular from in front of his bench, and Ricketts is there to grab it. No worries there after an interesting choice by Jackson.

15th—Diaz gets past Zemanski and finds Jackson in front. He absolutely blasts it and it's off Ricketts' leg and out of the box. Not sure if Ricketts even saw that one. On the counter, Nagbe gets it in the box for a moment, but he's tripped up before he can do anything too dangerous. No call.

16th—Action really picking up as FCD earns it first corner. Acosta turns and tries a shot, but it deflects over the line. Michel sends a curler right at the net, but it collects in the top of the net. He scored from there earlier this season, so that one's in his arsenal.

18th—Valeri takes a pass from Wallace but his one-touch return is a far too strong. Portland gets it right back and Valeri tries the same trick, and this time it's just a tad strong. Improvement shown in a matter of seconds there.

21st—Zemanski and Valeri go back and forth and the latter finds himself wide open in the box. He trips over the ball a bit and tries a shot, but it's way wide right. Valeri definitely wants that one back. Best chance of the match for either team.

23rd—Now Valeri and Nagbe with a little give-and-go action. Valeri fires and it's deflected over the line for a corner. Portland's one-touch passing at the top has to be worrying Dallas. Valeri sends it swinging in toward the goal and Kah is there for the header, but he doesn't catch it well and Dallas clears. Another good chance for Portland, which appears to be knocking at the door.

25th—Chara and John get into a bit after they each give chase to the ball and come together. John gives Chara a shove, and the little guy gives it right back to him. Timbers Army swoons, but Chara has to be careful: One more yellow and he's suspended for the next match.

26thTIMBERS GOAL! Ryan Johnson! It comes off Portland's fourth corner of the night. Valeri sends a great ball on a frozen rope into the box and Johnson leaps high into the air to head it with authority in the back of the net. What a vertical leap and Portland leads 1-0.

28thDALLAS GOAL! Green smoke is still pouring from the North End and we're suddenly tied. Diaz sneaks into the box and takes a great ball from Castillo to bury it in the back of the net. Wow, what a response from Dallas. We're tied at 1.

32nd—Dallas nearly nets another one! Ferreira takes it from the top of the box but sends it just high past a leaping Ricketts. Close!

33rdTIMBERS GOAL! Nagbe with a blast from the top corner of the box! Valeri threads the needle it into the box and Darlington absolutely crushes it past a leaping Fernandez. Timbers lead 2-1 and Nagbe has another golazo, and nets his fourth goal against Dallas this season (He's clearly inspired by stripes). What a seven-minute stretch we've just seen. Crazy action on both sides, great chances and better goals.

39th—Perez fires one on the run, but it soars on him. Break in the action as the ref has words with Kah and Perez, who are feuding.

42nd—Long ball played forward and Ryan Johnson earns a corner with his speed. Valeri sends it in low and it's booted out. Take two.

43rd—Valeri's second try looks much better and AJ-B gets a head on it, but his attempt isn't square and it's over the line. Goal kick coming. And holy shit, in ensuing action, Baptiste straight-jumps over Perez, who's not the shortest guy out there by any means.

Two minutes of stoppage...Ball gets loose in Portland's box for a moment, but Zemanski is there to slide and knock it away...Johnson takes it at midfield for one last look, but he can't find Wallace streaking ahead.

HALFTIME: Portland leads 2-1.

Some stats: Six shots for each side. FCD had 3 on goal, Portland a pair. The Timbers won the possession 53-47%, duels 52-48% and had more passes 188-172.

SECOND HALF: We're back at it. Timbers heading toward the south side.

47th—CONFIRMED: When Timbers Army roots, they root for the Timbers.

48th—Valeri with a nice touch and pass ahead to Wallace, who dribbles into the box. He's dispossessed from behind, however and it's cleared.

49th—Michel with a dangerously lovely one-touch cross into the box for Perez, but his header goes wide. Perez stays down for a moment, but gets back on his feet. No foul called.

51st—A couple midfield collisions leave Nagbe and Zemanski on the turf. Powell dribbles all the way down and tries a cross, but he airmails it a bit and it'll be a goal kick. This one's getting a bit more physical.

53rd—Zemanski picks up the first yellow of the match for a late challenge.

54th—Another yellow, this one for Jackson. He comes in way late on Harrington, who was attempting to clear. The latter goes down in a heap and comes up limping a bit.

55th—Corner kick coming for Dallas after Powell chests a Hoops shot over the line. Michel swings it out and over John, but it's knocked back for a moment. Sent back in and John was open for a header, but it's well high. Then Ricketts and Perez get into it. That'd be a heavyweight matchup in any ring.

58th—Perez gets a yellow for generally being an asshole. Then Valeri picks up a yellow for a late challenge. Meanwhile, Ricketts is on the ground holding his right leg. Trainer en route.

60th—Ricketts back on his feet and we're back at it. So many cards in the last few minutes I've lost count.

61st—Nagbe dribbles up the middle and tries to find Valeri running into the box, but it's well played by the Dallas defense. Portland earns a free kick from about 35 yards out and Valeri will line it up.

62nd—Valeri's free kick comes in low, no problem for Fernandez. On the other end, Chara with a big tackle to lead a break. Wallace brings it forward and BLASTS IT, but Fernandez punches it out. The ball goes in the direction of Chara, but he can't collect. Eventually, Johnson takes a shot from distance, and Fernandez bends over to grab it.

64th—Wallace dribbles ahead with a head of steam and takes on two defenders. He gets the rough end of it and goes down in a heap, holding his head. He gets back on his feet because he miracles happen.

65th—Timbers earn a corner kick and Chara goes down in a heap outside the half-circle. Not sure what happened there, but Perez looks apologetic.

66th—Corner comes in low and knocked out. Chara (back on his feet) takes a run around the box and finds Kah in the box, who tries to touch it back. Nothing doing there.

68th—Porter dekes a tackle as Castillo chases the ball out of bounds. LOLZ. Portland's coach goes full "Come at me, bro!" on that.

71st—Nagbe passes on a pretty good look and finds Johnson, who shoots, but it's right at Fernandez. Third shot in the past five minutes for Portland. Action picking back up here.

73rd—Sub for both sides. Dallas brings in Nunez for Diaz. Portland brings on Trencito for Ryan Johnson.

74th—Trencito gets it at midfield and runs a 1-on-2 upfield while Chara gives chase. Valencia plays it ahead to Valeri, who earns a corner with a quick shot. The corner comes in fast and Trencito eventually plays it ahead for Kah, but it's over his head.

75th—Perez finds Nunez, who fires a shot that makes Ricketts leap hard to his right. The ball goes just wide, though, but Nunez is making an immediate impact here.

77th—Dallas with free kick in a real dangerous spot after a phantom foul. Nunez sends it right into the wall and Portland is out of trouble after Perez can't find the handle.

79th—Portland sub: Alhassan comes on for Valeri.

80th—Nagbe dribbles ahead and finds Powell in the box, but his pass leaves a bit to be desired. The youngster again finds himself in a good spot, but doesn't quite have that touch down...yet.

82nd—Wallace fires from 40 yards, but it's over the bar. Dallas subbing: Cooper will be coming on for Acosta. Fans boo him because Kris Boyd isn't here.

84th—Ricketts are Harrington collide and it looks like Ricketts got the worst of it. He's face down in the turf and the trainers are on it.

87th—Ricketts back on his feet. It looks like his elbow caught Harrington's noggin, and it gave him a bit of a stinger.

88th—Powell with some nice defending right in front of Porter as his coach throws on his jacket.

89th—Another corner kick coming after Nagbe works his way down and draws it on a deflected shot. Short corner cleared out Ferreira and Timbers are taking their time trying to ice this match.

Five minutes of stoppage...Timbers with a free kick after a hard foul by John. Trencito takes it right up the middle and gets past a pair of defenders, but he can't quite get a full shot off and Fernandez is there...Another foul at midfield and Portland is in no hurry...Nagbe goes down right near the corner of the 18 and draws a foul. Dangerous free kick coming, but the bigger point is that Portland is killing clock...Short free kick goes to Alhassan, who looks for Chara over the top, but Perez clears...Dallas hasn't done much else but clear during stoppage—they know they're losing, right?...Watson with a decent one-touch pass for Cooper, but it's just beyond his foot...Tickticktick...Porter pointing at his wrist...

FULL TIME: Timbers win 2-1!

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