It's the elephant in the room.
Yes, the Portland Timbers were the first team to go into Houston and snatch an away point on Tuesday night, but they were once again left wondering where the goals have gone after a fourth consecutive match without a Timber player scoring a goal.
In fact, Portland’s Man of the Match performance in Houston came from goalkeeper Troy Perkins, who made seven saves.
POSTGAME: Perkins & Spencer on the draw
Winless in eight of their last nine matches, Portland have scored just six goals in that stretch, including an own goal by Sporting Kansas City in their 1-0 victory on April 21. They will look to snap their drought when they host the Chicago Fire at JELD-WEN on Sunday night (4 p.m. PT, presented by Pro Grass: ROOT SPORTS, 750 AM The Game / La Pantera 940 AM).
“For us, I think we had a couple chances to score,” Timbers manager John Spencer said after the match in Houston. “On the other end, Troy Perkins came up big for us as well. I’m a little disappointed to come away having not scored.”
The Timbers’ shots on goal statistic – a meager two in Houston – was also a setback after getting off seven shots on goal in their last scoreless draw May 5 against Columbus. Portland created just nine attempts on goal to Houston’s 18.
The Timbers are not strangers to opening spectacular new stadiums, having just christened their own last year.
And while they weren’t part of the hoopla from the first game at BBVA Compass Stadium – a 1-0 Dynamo win against New York on Saturday – the buzz of the new facility, hosting its first night game, was still palpable.
“It’s probably the second best stadium in the country after Portland,” expressed Spencer, who was an assistant coach for five seasons in Houston before taking over the Timbers last year. “I’m really proud of everyone who has put a lot of time and effort into making this stadium a reality. They thoroughly deserved it. There has not been a coaching staff or a better group of guys to be able to call this home.”
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.