I gave myself a night to sleep it over, but the morning after yesterday's 2-1 defeat at Vancouver still stings more than usual.
It was really only a matter of time before Portland's lack of ability to finish after dominating possession led to a loss instead of a draw, and it might as well come against one of the biggest rivals.
Despite getting down early on a wonderful free kick by Nicolas Mezquida, the Timbers dominated in possession and had plenty of the "oh so close" moments that they have been famous for in this young season. The moment didn't actually come until the 82nd minute when Fanando Adi finally was able to tap in the easy goal to level the score. The next ten eight minutes were all Portland as well, and it was a wonder they didn't score a second or third goal. At the death of the 90 minutes, the most Portland Timbers thing ever happened when Robert Earnshaw got behind the back line and slipped one past Adam Larsen Kwarasey to give the Caps all three points.
This team seems like they can do everything right except put the ball in the net. Watching this game was nothing short of an angering experience. The number of times my hands threw themselves to my face in frustration was uncountable. The decibel level of my scream was off the charts when Liam Ridgewell and Nat Borchers let Earnshaw slip right through them for the easy goal. This team needs to figure out why they aren't scoring goals despite doing everything else right. Adi is the only one capable of finishing, despite Rodney Wallace and Darlington Nagbe repeatedly finding chances that should really be converted. Caleb Porter even decided to start Max Urruti as a secondary striker to try and facilitate finishing and it couldn't get the job done.
I suppose the good news is that the chances are there and they will start going in eventually. You could even credit Vancouver keeper David Ousted as the savior of the match. But until they start scoring goal consistently, I am resigned to think that this team is going nowhere. If the near misses continue, I am inclined to think that this team is just not good enough and I might call for some heads to roll in the coaching department. Caleb Porter says all the right things, has the right attitude to coach this team, but there is just something missing right now.
Portland has three goals in four matches, which is pathetic for the way this team has played. Not being able to score against RSL in the opener was embarrassing with how that second half went. The goals finally came a bit against LA the next week, but faulty late game defending ruined the win. The match against Sporting KC didn't have as many frustrating near misses, but they still probably should have found at least one goal. Then it all came to a head last night in the Great White North. The fact that they didn't score until the final ten minutes, and then only scored once with the plethora of chances they had, was awful.
The next month is going to tell us a lot of what this squad is made of. On Saturday they have to face the leaders of the Western Conference in FC Dallas at home. Then Kaka and Orlando City come to town before they head cross country to play NYCFC in Yankee Stadium. The month ends with the huge rivalry match against Seattle on the road. All of these teams can, and will, score goals against Portland's sometimes sleepy defending. The Timbers will have to learn to convert these almost chances if they hope to escape April with more than the three points they already have.
Portland has the skill to make the playoffs in the West. They are doing almost everything right. Until they start scoring goals and not falling asleep at the back late in games, they aren't going to make that run we all know they are capable of.