PORTLAND, Ore. – Comparing the Portland Timbers' game last Saturday against Columbus to their previous match against Montreal would be like trying to find the similarities between a Ferrari and a Ford.
Against Montreal, the Timbers attack was discombobulated, resulting in four unimpressive shots on goal in a 2-0 loss. But against Columbus – a 0-0 home draw – the Timbers sliced and diced their way to the net and fired off seven shots on goal, including 12 shots in the second half alone.
One story, however, remained the same.
The Timbers were left without a goal in both games and have gone a club-record three games without finding the back of the net – their goal against Sporting Kansas City on April 21 came on an own-goal.
“We’ve got to score goals,” Timbers head coach John Spencer said. “All we can do is create opportunities. And when you get them, score goals. It’s pretty simple. It’s not an Excel spreadsheet you’re looking at, it’s the game of soccer.”
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For Spencer and his players, getting service to forwards Kris Boyd and Darlington Nagbe appears to be one positive gleaned from the Columbus game. Now, they say, it’s just a matter of adding the last step: getting the ball into the back of the net by any means necessary.
“I feel like last game we did well up there,” Nagbe said. “We created a lot of chances, now we just have to put them away. I don’t think it’s been a struggle. We’ve been changing the lineups, and the last game, I think, we had a more successful game attacking-wise and creating chances.”
Still, what seemed so simple last Saturday was a Rubik’s Cube against Montreal and Kansas City when they created just six shots on goal in the two games combined. It begs the question: Which team will surface in their next game on May 15 against Houston? And will the Timbers stick with the lineup they used vs. Columbus?
“I think in soccer, the most difficult thing is to create the chances,” said midfielder Franck Songo’o, who was in the XI against Columbus after starting the previous two games on the bench. “We create our chances, and that’s the most important thing. And we’ve got quality up front, so the goals are going to come soon.”
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.