Timbers show real progress in tie vs. Revs
The Portland Timbers’ learning curve continued to move in a positive direction on Saturday after the 1-1 draw against the New England Revolution in a game of encouraging firsts:
First MLS standings point for the Timbers.
First time Portland has come back from a goal down to earn a result.
And the first minutes of playing time for Timbers prized rookie and No. 2 overall pick Darlington Nagbe.
“It’s great,” right midfielder Jeremy Hall said. “This is a tough league to get points on the road and it’s what you have to do to make the playoffs. It builds momentum into our next game at home.”
What occurred on Saturday should serve to fuel the anticipation in Portland surrounding the home opener on April 14 at JELD-WEN Field. The team will enjoy a bye weekend leading up to that first home game.
A failed Timbers clearance was punished by Stephen McCarthy’s 22nd minute goal, but Portland kept its cool and scored the equalizer just before the half.
Kenny Cooper served ball into the middle that got to the feet of Hall, who expertly shielded a defender with his back to the goal and laid the ball off to Jack Jewsbury. The Timbers captain shot low and past Revs goalkeeper Matt Reis.
It was the second significant goal of the week for Jewsbury, who put Portland up to stay in the 84th minute of Tuesday’s victorious U.S. Open Cup play-in game against Chivas USA.
This time, Jewsbury’s goal drew the Timbers even and put his team in position for its first draw.
“I thought we showed a lot of character, a lot of determination,” Timbers coach John Spencer said.
The Timbers’ best chance in the second half came when Kalif Alhassan hit a free kick from 25 yards that was inches away from slipping inside the near post, in the 70th minute. Sainey Nyassi had an opportunity for New England in the 79th minute but his shot went wide.
Nagbe came on in the 66th minute, replacing Hall in the midfield. On a couple of occasions, he demonstrated why the coaching staff thinks so highly of him, with clever footwork and an ability to hold on to possession.
Meanwhile, the Timbers’ third-string goalkeeper, Jake Gleeson, continued to display uncanny poise in the box for a 20-year-old, making five saves and rushing off his line several times to stamp out New England opportunities. Spencer will have a difficult decision to make when Troy Perkins and Adin Brown return to full health.