The Portland Timbers played host to Minnesota United in what was their home opener of the 2018 MLS season. This was our first chance to watch our new designated player, Darwin Quintero, play for his new club Minnesota United. The Timbers have been struggling since the season began under their new manager but a win when going to Portland is a difficult thing to come by.
It was an evenly contested match for the first 15 minutes. Both teams had fairly decent chances but no one could find the back of the net. It was not until the 20th minute until first blood was drawn. It came from Portland attack Alvas Powell who made a darting run with the ball from the right wing all the way into the 18 where he finished near post. This could have been prevented with a little more tenacity by our defenders, the left side was especially porous this evening, and goalkeeper Matthew Lampson. You should never get beat near post that easily.
Portland stuck again after a mere three minutes from a deflected cross that fell to Diego Valeri just outside the 6 yard box who finished with a tidy finish to the far side of the net. This was one goal I could stomach because it was pretty unlucky and a nice piece of effort from one of the most talented players in the MLS.
Minnesota would not go down silently which was a nice sight to see. They developed a beautiful piece of build up play that led to Miguel Ibarra finding the back of the net. The only problem was that VAR found that he was offside and disallowed the goal shortly after. A tough blow for us as that felt like a swing of momentum to get us right back into the match.
The new transfer from Club America, Darwin Quintero found himself on the scorers sheet with a lovely solo run into the 18 with a clean finish that beat the keeper on the far side of the net. A great start to his first campaign with his new club. Overall I was impressed with his dominance with the ball at his feet and creativity inside and around the 18 yard box.
Unfortunately, the Timbers scored 10 minutes after a redirection from forward Fanendo Adi that gave the hosts a two goal cushion with 26 minutes left to play. The Loons had numerous chances throughout the night to capitalize but the final ball or shot just could not be executed at a high enough level. Thankfully the Timbers supplied as with some help as defender Bill Poni Tuiloma scored an own goal to make things separated by only a goal.
The Loons had a great opportunity with a ball played by Quintero right across the penalty marker but no Loons were able to get on the end of it. Things ended 3-2 in favor of the Timbers who secured their first win in their home stadium this season. The Loons left with many positives but there were also glaring areas of concern.
The attacking minds on our team are what will keep this team afloat for this season. They have shown that they can create chances at a high rate as well as finish enough to stay competitive in games. The defense and part of the midfield on the other hand really struggled tonight. The Timbers constantly attacked the left full back position which led to a lot of chances inside our 18. Our holding midfielders Ibson and Schuller both had painful games today. Schuller in particular had a glaring mistake that lead to the third and final goal for Portland. We are going to need better in that area of the game if we want to compete with quality midfield groups going forward.
The positives consisted of Darwin Quintero showing that he is going to be worth every penny and designation it took to get him into the club. He is at a higher level of quality than a lot of players in this league and it feels great to have him on our team. Our attacking wingers had dangerous moments which was another positive on the night. Christian Ramirez will need to find himself on the end of some of these crosses but overall it was a good effort from out attackers tonight.
The Loons take on the Sounders next Sunday in Seattle which will be another great test on the Pacific Northwest side of the country. They have started off slowly this season so it would be great if we could take advantage of their slump and head back home with a crucial 3 points in our back pocket.
photo credit – mnufc.com