It’s time to start worrying in Portland. In a game where, before kickoff, every indicator seemed to be pointing toward a Timbers’ victory, Caleb Porter’s team found a way to squander another late lead. After Will Johnson’s first goal of the season held up for 72 minutes, Erick Torres’s close-range equalizer in the 79th minute took a point for Chivas USA, leaving last year’s first place finisher in the Western Conference winless through six matches.
A strong start from Porter’s side saw Darlington Nagbe set up the team’s captain for the opener from just inside the penalty area, taking advantage of a Chivas USA defense that had a natural striker in the middle, a midfielder at right back, and a trained central defender on the left. Against a Portland team designed to pass its way through the opposition, Wilmer Cabrera’s defense should have been pulled apart.
Chivas was also coming off their worst performance of the season – a 3-0 loss in the Debri Angelino that hinted the Goats may be regressing toward their 2013 selves. With Portland’s attack finally coming together in a 4-4 draw against Seattle, Johnson’s goal should have opened the flood gates. This should have been the night Portland finally broke through.
Instead, the Timbers’ vaunted possession game let them down, eventually out-possessed on the night by their guests. While most of the evening saw little come of that control, life without the ball meant fewer chances at that makeshift defense. It also meant more exposure for a Portland back line that’s been the league’s most mistaken prone this season.
In the 79th year, a mistake finally came. Building down the left, Chivas USA created its equalizer through Leandro Barrera, whose ball into the six from the byline allowed Torres to score his fifth goal of the season.
For Chivas USA, the result stopped any downward momentum that lingered after last week’s loss, though the more telling side of Saturday’s result was Portland’s. One week after Porter stressed the need to eliminate breakdowns in defense, a leak at the back cost Portland its first win of the year.
As a result, the Timbers sit eighth in the West, with only San Jose separating it from the bottom.