Portland & Dallas Extend Undefeated Streaks With a Draw
By Philip Mitchell
On Wednesday evening, Frisco, Texas was the home of the battle of two western conference teams aiming to keep their seven game winning streaks alive. After 90 minutes, both teams walked away with what they wanted: a draw. The result was a bit bittersweet for the Portland Timbers, as they had a one-nil lead taken from them after their former striker converted a penalty kick in the 77th minute. Nevertheless, Darlington Nagbe’s 70th minute goal was enough to protect his team’s undefeated road record.
As expected, the midfield battle determined the flow of the game, where Portland’s Diego Valeri and Diego Chara battled against Dallas’ Michel and David Ferreira. Unfortunately for Dallas, Ferreria was unable to finish the game with an apparent hamstring injury. Early in the match, Portland’s back line showed confusion and issues with competence. Futty Danso and Andrew Jean-Baptiste showed plenty of times that their chemistry was vulnerable, where Dallas showed similar signs. Despite this, both teams walked off after the first half with zeroes on both sides of the score board.
Offensive pressure was far beyond stagnant. Both teams pressed, which was expected. Surprise Portland starter Frederic Piquionne had a handful of chances, one of which hit the post, while others were wasted, as did Dallas for the much of the match. The loss of George John for Dallas and Mikael Silvestre for Portland opened the door for opportunities that both teams seemed to squander on defense, yet unable to convert on offense.
The pace seemed to alter towards productivity when the 70th minute was approached when Coach Caleb Porter decided to add Rodney Wallace into the match. His assist to Darlington Nagbe opened up play, making the flow of the game exciting to watch. When Ben Zemanski was subbed in for Diego Valeri, however, the tactical change fell right in Dallas’ hands. Pressure mounted and additional superb goal keeping by Dallas’ Peruvian Raul Fernandez kept them in the game. Portland appeared to settle for protecting the lead by shifting Nagbe up top and dropping Piquionne back to take advantage of his height on the many long balls being crossed or lofted into the attacking third. It, unfortunately, was all for naught.
During the 77th minute, Portland defender Andrew Jean Baptiste got tangled up with Eric Hassi inside the 18. Both players got a hand full of jersey, yet Hassli went to ground, and his body language was all that match referee Juan Guzman needed to see to award the penalty to Dallas. Cooper easily converted to secure the tie.
Both teams battled for the remaining time of the match, and Dallas seemed to be the hungrier of the two. It was competitive, but no one was capable of breaking the line of either keeper on this night.
So in the end, the fans got what they wanted. Both teams got plenty of shots on goal. Some went wide and some were saved amazingly by both teams’ keepers. Fernandez got the lion’s share of the highlights for the evening, but Rickets can go home confident. He has yet to lose on the road. Nevertheless, the result was more of a loss for Portland while it was more of a moral victory for Dallas.
Both sides have another game to play this weekend. Portland goes back home to the Rose City to meet Chivas USA on Sunday the 12th, while Dallas has a shorter time to recoup when they meet DC United on the 11th. For Portland, pressure is starting to build to get back onto the winning path. They have not won since their home match against San Jose on April 14th. Dallas is now firmly in the driver’s seat with an MLS-leading 21 total points. The question for both teams now is: can they both go nine games undefeated?