PORTLAND, Ore. – An unwelcome trend reared its head again in the Portland Timbers’ 1-1 draw Sunday afternoon against the LA Galaxy, and head coach Caleb Porter said it needs to be fixed – and quick – if his team is to fight back into the MLS Cup playoff race.
A defensive lapse in stoppage time allowed a long throw-in by Galaxy defender Dan Gargan to make its way all the way into the box to an unmarked Robbie Keane for an easy header goal. That could have easily been the game-winner if not for late heroics by Portland’s Diego Valeri, who scored the equalizer at the game’s death.
Porter said similar lapses have cost Portland points in three other games.
“Robbie Keane runs through our box naked and heads the ball in the goal,” Porter said in his postgame remarks. “For me, I don’t understand how that happens, and it’s been a trend. I’m sounding like a broken record after the games because most of the goals we’re giving up are on simple crosses.”
The throw-in from nearly 30 yards out crossed the Timbers box and fell between center back Futty Danso and goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts. Neither player went for it, and Keane was there for the header.
"The ball bounced between me and Donovan, and I thought he would have it but obviously he could not get there and Keane came out of nowhere and had a free header,” Danso told reporters.
“We just have to be more focused on set plays,” said Ricketts who had four saves against the Galaxy.
The positive, however, is that Portland were able to walk away with a point. Porter said he never doubted that his team would eventually find a goal, but Valeri's strike at the death should have led to a victory celebration rather than a draw.
“We do keep slowly moving up, but we’re running out of time and we need to pick it up and change that trend,” Porter said. “It’s time to change it otherwise we’re not going to be the team we want to be at the end of the year.”
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com.