Timbers continue streak...
By Philip Mitchell
Weather conditions on the evening of May 2 in the Rose City were ideal for a soccer match. Fortunately, the Portland Timbers were hosting the New England Revolution at Jeld Wen Field. On paper, as of late, Portland was the in form team and was the favorite. However, Bobby Shuttleworth, New England’s goalkeeper, had the last say. The game ended in a draw that was part shootout/part goalkeeper clinic.
Earlier this week Shuttleworth spoke to representatives from the Revolution’s media team about his team’s preparedness for the raucous environment they were expecting in Portland. At first he may have sounded a bit naïve, but in reality his nine saves and clean sheet spoke volumes for how his team was handled tough road game.
On the opposite side of the pitch, Timbers keeper Donovan Rickets was not as busy, making four saves, but was just as important. His late saves essentially kept the result a draw for the two clubs. With this result, the Timbers extended their undefeated streak now to seven games.
The Timbers were by far the aggressor for Thursday's match. Unfortunately for them, 13 of their 22 shots were off frame, and Shutteworth essentially showed why he has kept the starting spot since former starter Matt Reis has returned from injury.
When it came to defense, there really wasn’t much from New England besides the leadership of Jose Goncalves. Throughout the match, he orchestrated the positioning of his fellow members of the back line. It did little, but his individual effort to defend or pressure Timbers attackers made a huge difference.
Portland had a similar, yet catastrophic, situation for their back line. Even though they allowed only 12 shots total, they lost veteran Mikael Silvestre to injury. The team announced Friday that Silvestre had torn his ACL and would require surgery as soon as it was considered the proper time to do so. He is most likely out for 6-9 weeks.
This is a huge loss for the squad. It had appeared that Silvestre was starting to really show that had become familiarized with the pace of MLS. His leadership was becoming evident and had started to win over some of his biggest local critics. Fortunately, Portland announced a new signing to the roster.
For some strange reason, the Timbers have just not been able to keep their center defenders healthy and away from injuries this season. David Horst was lost a few weeks ago with a tibia plateau fracture. Andrew Jean Baptiste had a hip injury and so did Hanyer Mosquera (before his leave of absence). Futty Danso was taken off on a stretcher last week but was considered to be fine after the match.
The news of signing a new defender should give a boost of confidence to the team and in the base of the supporters in the region. Early reports indicated that the team had been in negotiations with the Gambian born Norwegian Pa Modou Kah, but the talks had gone sour. Well, today’s news indicates either those “sources” were wrong, or there was a change in heart by the player and his representatives.
Coined as an experienced defender, who has played in some of Europe’s and the Middle East’s top talented leagues, Kah will join fellow Gambian Futty Danso on the roster.Pending his international transfer certificate and visa approval, Kah will have to sit out before joining the club. Until then, Portland will be facing the top team in the West, FC Dallas on the road, and then Chivas USA at home.
To close out the month, the Timbers will close out the month with two away matches. The first will be against Vancouver in a Cascadia Cup battle and the second at RFK stadium against the struggling DC United.
At this moment in the season, the Timbers find themselves in 3rd place with a 3-1-5 record (14 points). This is a great but not guaranteed playoff position for the team. Chivas and Real Salt Lake have yet to play and if either of them wins, PTFC could lose their spot.
The question for the Portland Timbers is how the team cope after losing a player like Silvestre? Will they continue their current form, or will the trip to Dallas essentially repeat some ugly history?