Minnesota United FC 4 - 1 Portland Timbers: Match Recap & Highlights
The Timbers' offense, and the Timbers' effort, is almost entirely absent as they get shelled in St. Paul.
The Portland Timbers fell 4-1 on the road to Minnesota United FC, stretching their winless run to four games. An own goal gave Minnesota the lead late in the first half, and Emanuel Reynoso extended it with an apparent Olimpico in first half stoppage-time. Franck Boli pulled one back for Portland in the 60th minute, but Bongokuhle Hlongwane stretched the hosts’ lead back to two 14 minutes later. Reynoso slammed the door shut three minutes after that and scored his second of the game, and doomed Portland to yet another 4-1 road defeat.
With multiple players unavailable, including the suspended Evander, and a tough turnaround of two road games in four days, Giovanni Savarese faced multiple headaches when setting up his squad. He opted for a two forward look, with Jaroslaw Niezgoda and Franck Boli starting up top. Noel Caliskan got his first MLS start next to Diego Chara, and Eric Miller slotted in at right back.
The first half was… hard on the eyes. In stark contrast to the eight-goal explosion these two teams treated us to the last time these two teams faced off in Minnesota, the two squads were scoreless through the first 44 minutes. Neither team could find much of a rhythm, and offense was sparse. There were as many shots on target as their were yellow cards shown (4) in the first half, and it appeared destined for a scoreless deadlock at halftime.
That all changed as the half came to a close. In the 44th minute, a quick counterattack from Minnesota saw a cross in the box unfortunately deflected into the goal by Diego Chara. And just a few minutes later, Emanuel Reynoso curled an audacious Olimpico into the net off a corner kick in first-half stoppage time.
Just moments from heading into the locker room with a 0-0 draw, the Timbers switched off at the worst possible time and instead trailed by two goals after the first forty-five minutes.
Going into the second forty-five, it initially looked like Minnesota scoring a third was more likely than Portland getting back into the game. Aljaz Ivacic and the Portland defense had to make several crucial stops early in the second half as the Timbers faced wave after wave of Minnesota attacks.
But in the 60th minute, Franck Boli made things interesting. He raced down a through ball from Nathan, who had just entered the game, and then fired a shot past Irwin with precision towards the near post and into the back of the net, pulling one back for the Timbers.
Those positive feelings didn’t even last 15 minutes, as Minnesota scored their third via Timbers-killer Bongokuhle Hlongwane, as he finished off a quick counter-attack after Portland was caught upfield on a free kick.
Reynoso got his brace just three minutes later with a tap-in, piling on the pain for the Timbers and dooming them to yet another 4-1 road defeat.
14’ Noel Caliskan earned a free kick after he was taken down just outside the box. Santiago Moreno tried to spring a surprise and rolled a low shot under the wall, but Clint Irwin read it the whole way and easily collected.
27’ Aljaz Ivacic saved what was a sure goal, after he palmed away a strong header from Mender Garcia with his right paw.
40’ Ivacic again made a crucial save, and Garcia put his follow-up header just wide of the post, as Minnesota nearly opened the scoring.
44’ Goal Minnesota 1-0. Just a few minutes later, Minnesota did indeed open the scoring via an own goal. Boli lost the ball in the attacking half, and the Loons quickly found Garcia on the break. He laid it off for Hlongwane, who fizzed in a low cross into the box — and off of Diego Chara and into the back of the net.
45’+4 Goal Minnesota 2-0. It went from bad to worse in a matter of minutes for the Timbers, as Emanuel Reynoso curled a corner kick towards the near post and scored what was ruled to be an outrageous Olimpico. Ivacic scrambled back and got his hands to it as he was sliding into his own net, but the ball went in anyway.
HALFTIME: Minnesota - 2, Timbers - 0.
A boring half (not the worst thing for the Timbers, to be honest) suddenly imploded for Portland as the hosts sprung out to a 2-0 lead (quite possibly actually the worst thing for the Timbers) right as the half ended.
The Timbers made one change at half, as they brought on Juan Mosquera for Larrys Mabiala in an attempt to get more offensive fluidity on the pitch.
Aljaz Ivacic was called into action multiple times as the second half began, stopping multiple chances for Minnesota to increase their lead.
59’ The Timbers made another pair of subs as Cristhian Paredes came on for Marvin Loria, and Nathan came on for Jaroslaw Niezgoda. The move was made in an attempt to jumpstart the attack… and paid almost immediate dividends.
60’ GOAL TIMBERS 2-1. Nathan, just seconds after coming on the field, collected a ball from Chara and played through a ball for Franck Boli to run on to. Boli showcased his speed to reach the ball, and showcased his precision as he expertly fired the ball past Irwin to cut the deficit in half for the Timbers.
You can watch Franck’s goal HERE.
74’ Goal Minnesota 3-1. The Timbers failed put a free kick on frame, and Minnesota immediately countered the other way with multiple Timbers defenders caught upfield. Bongokuhle Hlongwane did it against the Timbers yet again, as he finished off the move with a neat finish through the legs of Ivacic to restore Minnesota’s two-goal advantage.
77’ Goal Minnesota 4-1. Reynoso scored his second with a tap-in at the far post, after Portland couldn’t deal with a pinging ball in their own box and the defense was caught napping and failed to pick up Reynoso.
After conceding two more goals in quick succession yet again, the Timbers well and truly wilted, capitulating to another 4-1 defeat on the road.
FULLTIME: Minnesota - 4, Timbers - 1.
The Timbers won’t have any time at all to dwell on the loss, as they quickly head off to Colorado, where they will face the Rapids in just three days time. Kickoff for the road bout is set for 6:30 p.m. PT on July 4.
It was always going to be a hard road for the Timbers, playing in a hostile environment where they haven’t won before with a number of crucial absences in their squad.
But my goodness this was rough.
Portland switched off at the worst possible time in the first half, and got punched in the mouth. Boli briefly restored hope with a very well-taken goal, but then the Timbers suffered the consequences of pushing for a goal: exposing yourself in the back. The result was another deflating road loss, with the signature Portland fight virtually absent all game.
The offense remained inert, as Portland managed just three shots on target and seven shots overall on the night. The Timbers have yet to score multiple times in a game since their 3-1 win over Vancouver way back in May, and tonight continued that dubious trend.
A lot of the offensive inefficacy could be placed on the absence of Evander, but the reality is that this Timbers team hasn’t had an effective offense for some time — Evander or not.
That lack of scoring, plus a regression in the defense, means that the Timbers have collected just seven points from their last nine games, and are falling like a rock in the standings. They stand in 12th place and are losing touch with the playoff line, and the clock is ticking on Portland pulling it together for the chance at a late-season run.