Drilling down on: at Portland 1, FC Dallas 1

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Man of the Match: The visitors needed a win to keep playoff hope afloat, but a tie probably felt OK after going a man down just into the second half. FCD may not have gotten that much but for Kevin Hartman, whose save on Bright Dike on a breakaway was among the Dallas ‘keeper’s big second-half moments. His save on Darlington Nagbe in the 78th was great stuff, although Dallas’ failure to clear from there would eventually provide Jack Jewsbury with a chance at the top of the 18 that he buried with the cleanest of first-time strikes.

Packaged for take-away:

  • Brek Shea was back in the starting lineup for FC Dallas after a two-match “break.” With Fabian Castillo on the right and David Ferreira centrally, this was as close as FCD has been all year to fielding its top four attackers. Blas Perez remains injured.
  • The surprise around Portland was Brent Richards, found among the Timbers starting 11 for just the second time and playing along the right in the home team’s 4-3-3.
  • How about a big long standing applause for the Timbers crowd; things have been going about as poorly as they can for this club, and yet they were in big, full, beautiful voice from the opening whistle.
  • On such a hot day, the Jeld-Wen turf seemed to be playing awfully sticky. Both teams had trouble keeping tidy control, which made for a choppy match. Well, that and quite a lot of fouling through midfield.
  • Timbers’ right back Kosuke Kimura was either concerned about Shea or he’s been told to defend first and not worry about attacking. Because he didn’t Sunday. Attack, that is. Not even with a man advantage. Only in the last 10 minutes was the recent addition from Colorado seen in Portland’s attacking third.
  • With the teams unable to develop much rhythm, neither ‘keeper was tested much in the first half, outside of a couple of balls that needed swatting off corner kicks or throw-ins. Darlington Nagbe wasn’t far off with a 25-yard shot. And Shea’s blast from in close needed quick reacting from Troy Perkins.
  • Best battle early Sunday: Frank Songo’o along Portland’s left side against Dallas right back Zach Loyd. Loyd prevailed early, even frustrating Songo’o enough that the Timbers’ attacked collected a 23rd-minute yellow card.  But Songo’o began gaining a toehold as the first half went on, troubling the visitor’s right back repeatedly over the final 25 minutes before intermission.
  • All that battling in the first half eventually got the better of Loyd, who collected his second yellow card in the 52nd minute. It was a little soft as second bookings go, but Loyd needed to be extra careful while sitting on one booking, and he wasn’t. Incredibly, it marked the sixth time Dallas played down a man (or two) this year.
  • Portland center back David Horst is a strong, aggressive ball winner, but he needs to expand his distribution repertoire. Too many of those won balls just get hoofed forward aimlessly.
  • Ferriera found precise passing weight necessary on the sticky surface, clearly. His wonderful ball into space found Shea at full gallop. The winger’s first-touch was a precision pass for the onrushing Scott Sealy at the far post.
  • Sealy has two goals in MLS since 2008; both are against the Timbers.
  • The other striker Sunday, Kris Boyd, had surprisingly little to say about this one; he was off after an hour, replaced by Bright Dike.
  • Portland manager Gavin Wilkinson made a bold call to keep Songo’o on the field. He looked liable to collect a second yellow at any moment; and referee Ricardo Salazar probably would not have been reluctant to even the match, considering a suspicion among many that Salazar didn’t realize Loyd was already in the book when he reached into the pocked in the 52nd. But Songo’o had been Portland’s top threat, so on he remained.
  • This is one where the Timbers needed a little more variety in the attack. Balls out to Songo’o or someone else on the wing, looking to take on defenders and then cross, that’s good and all. But combinations in the middle maybe? A little more target play? More interchange and overlapping with Songo’o? Something, anything different?