Darlington Nagbe knows just how big the little things can be at this point in the season for the Portland Timbers.
And the young midfielder’s goal in the 82nd minute to tie things up against Toronto FC at BMO Field on Wednesday night was just that – huge – even if it meant only a point in a 2-2 draw between the two last-place teams in their respective conferences.
“It was huge, just for the team, even though we’d rather have the win,” Nagbe told MLSsoccer.com from the team hotel after the game.
HIGHLIGHTS: TOR 2, POR 2
With the Timbers winless in their previous six matches, which included five straight losses, it’s easy to see why they’ll take a positive any way they can get it. Factor in the fact that it’s Portland’s first point on the road since May 15, and the Timbers' two goals equaled their entire road output coming into the game, then it’s a momentous occasion for the struggling side.
Midfielder Sal Zizzo scored first for Portland in the 21st minute, staking them to a 1-0 lead.
“It’s good,” Nagbe said. “It’s a step in the right direction, and it’s still momentum going into the next game because we had a good performance and it wasn’t a loss.”
Nagbe thwarted disaster and a potential ninth road loss when he headed home a cross from left back Steven Smith with his team trailing 2-1. Portland allowed two Toronto goals in a six-minute stretch early in the second half, spoiling their lead after dominating the first half.
“It felt good,” Nagbe said. “It’s always good to tie the game, and prevent the team from losing. So that was the best part of it.”
Still, Portland remain winless away from JELD-WEN Field this season. And the two goals conceded were a product of careless defending.
“I felt we made the mistake of sitting back on the lead and gave them too much space to play, and they gained confidence from that,” said new Timbers goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts, who made his first start in a Timbers jersey after being acquired last week in a trade with Montreal.
Now the Timbers will test their newfound confidence on the road Sunday against the New York Red Bulls and former Portland striker Kenny Cooper, whom the Timbers traded during the offseason and is currently enjoying a banner season with 13 goals.
“We just need to keep getting better and keep putting in positive performances and the wins will come,” Nagbe said.
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.