Portland brought back down to earth in rout at LA

Defensive mistakes lead to downfall

Troy Perkins in goal, Timbers @ LA Galaxy, 4.23.11

Photo Credit: 
Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer

Sometimes you’re the chainsaw, sometimes the log.

On Saturday night in Los Angeles, a crisp LA Galaxy team playing at full strength carved up the Portland Timbers defense in a 3-0 victory. Portland (2-3-1) remained winless in four road games.

WATCH: Full Match Highlights

With goalkeeper Troy Perkins seeing his first MLS action in a Timbers uniform, the Galaxy went on the attack early. In the fourth minute, Chad Barrett, a former Oregon high school player of the year, took a pass from Landon Donovan and drove a shot inside the far post. Perkins had little chance to make the play.

Three minutes later, Donovan drew a foul on Rodney Wallace in the box and slotted a penalty kick to put LA two up. The Galaxy continued to dominate possession and benefit from four and five players moving off the ball and creating offensive options. Once again, defensive mistakes – allowing too much space and time – hurt the Timbers.

“We probably lost the game in the first 10 minutes, going two-nil down," head coach John Spencer said postgame. "I was disappointed that we conceded two goals in quick succession, it’s something that we are going to have to address, obviously. When you go down a goal, you can’t break down mentally. For the next five, 10 minutes, keep it tight. We’ve done it too many times now.”

Offensively, there was little evidence of Portland’s recent seven-goal flurry in two home games. In the first half, the Timbers’ best chance came when a Jack Jewsbury free kick found the head of Mamadou Danso, who directed the ball to an open lane. Galaxy goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts made a difficult save to prevent a goal.

Kenny Cooper had a pair of second-half chances that could have brought the Timbers some reward for their effort. Ricketts made a glove save on Cooper’s shot in the 71st minute. Nine minutes later, Jorge Perlaza made a wide run and lofted a cross that Cooper tried to volley into the net with his left foot. Ricketts was in position to make a foot save.

“I thought Donovan Ricketts had a great game," said Timbers captain Jack Jewsbury. "We created chances, Kenny had a great chance and we had three or four off set pieces. So obviously the final score when you look at it is disappointing. They definitely had the better run of play, but he had some big saves.”

The loss was in sharp contrast to the momentum Portland had gathered in their last two games, back-to-back wins at home over Chicago and FC Dallas. If anything, Spencer said, it reminded his still-learning team that there's a long way to go in their debut season.

“You can get a little bit too high on your horse and think what a fantastic team you have and forget why you’re winning games," he added. "We are winning games at home because we compete from the first whistle. We’ve done extremely well, but tonight we got beat by a better team.”