Match Recap & Highlights: Portland Timbers 1 - 3 Houston Dynamo
Decision Day déjà vu for Portland as the Timbers faceplant against the Dynamo and miss the playoffs by one point.
The Portland Timbers (11-10-13) concluded their 2023 MLS season with a devastating 3-1 loss to the Houston Dynamo (14-9-11). The team needed a win of their own on Decision Day, or results in San Jose or Kansas City to go their way, and got neither — failing to make the playoffs in back to back seasons for the first time since 2012.
Zac McGraw, Cristhian Paredes, and Diego Chara were all back and healthy enough to start against Houston after dealing with various injuries against Montreal. Juan Mosquera was once again selected to start at right back over Eric Miller, and Yimmi Chara got the start over Dairon Asprilla on the wing for Portland.
Houston opened the scoring in the 11th minute through Griffin Dorsey and had a goal disallowed for offside in the 27th minute, before doubling their advantage through Adalberto Carrasquilla just a few minutes after the start of the second half.
The Timbers had chance after chance to cut into the lead, but Houston tacked on a third goal in the 71st to put the nail in Portland’s playoff coffin. Felipe Mora got a consolation goal with 10 minutes to play, but it was far too little too late for the Timbers to meaningfully build on.
5’ The first big chance of the night came from Evander via free-kick: a vicious right-footed strike that took a deflection and needed any sort of touch from Steve Clark to keep the hosts off the scoresheet.
11’ GOAL HOUSTON, 1-0 Griffin Dorsey gave the Dynamo the lead with a bullet header at the near post from a corner that was entirely avoidable from the Timbers’ perspective. Bingham opted to punch a cross instead of claiming it, Juan touched the ball behind under no pressure, and the worst possible start for Portland came to fruition.
27’ DISALLOWED GOAL The visitors thought they had doubled their lead before the half-hour mark through Corey Baird, but the offside flag came to the rescue for the Timbers. A really poor save from Bingham pushed the ball directly into the path of Baird, who made no mistake in front of goal.
31’ Santi Moreno drew a smart stop out of Clark at the back post after a glorious cross from Yimmi Chara, the Timbers’ best chance of the opening 30 minutes.
45’ Only four minutes of stoppage time were added to the end of the first half, which felt like about half of the requisite amount of time after time-wasting antics by the Dynamo throughout the first half.
Halftime: At the break the Timbers trailed 1-0 to the Houston Dynamo. Coupled with results across the league, the Timbers found themselves outside of the playoffs looking in.
48’ GOAL HOUSTON, 2-0 After failing to clear the ball countless times, Coco Carrasquilla lashed a strike past Bingham to increase the Dynamo’s lead and leave the Timbers with a mountain to climb.
59’ SUBS Sebastian Blanco and Dairon Asprilla replaced Cristhian Paredes and Yimmi Chara.
71’ GOAL HOUSTON, 3-0 Griffin Dorsey scored his second of the match and the Dynamo’s third to put the nail in the Timbers’ coffin. The defending was non-existent again and the Dynamo made the Timbers pay.
80’ GOAL PORTLAND, 3-1 Felipe Mora pulled a goal back late, but with SKC winning 3-0 and San Jose tied with Austin FC the Timbers would need two more to claw back into the playoffs.
90’ Four minutes of stoppage time were added to the end of the second half.
Full Time: The full time whistle blew with Houston taking all three points and a 3-1 victory in Portland.
An absolute disaster of a night from start to finish for the Portland Timbers, who looked tired, sloppy, and second-best for the majority of the match despite having two weeks off since a loss of similar magnitude in Montreal. It really was a microcosm of their entire season: Poor set-piece and transition defending mixed with wasteful attacking, providing a late sliver of hope that proved insufficient when the dust settled.
I can’t think of many players from the match who performed at the level required to get a meaningful result with a playoff spot on the line. Felipe Mora and Diego Chara were good, but that’s about it. Juan Mosquera made two mistakes that ended in Houston goals. Aside from a garbage-time assist Evander sulked, gave the ball away, and threw his arms in the air for 90 minutes. Moreno didn’t impact the game at all despite having a ton of the ball in dangerous spaces. Yimmi Chara … I don’t even have to say anything else.
Another abject failure on Decision Day for a team that now needs to hire a Head Coach and overhaul a roster that has been overpaid and underperformed for two seasons in a row.
UP NEXT: The 2024 MLS season