After defeating the San Jose Earthquakes 1-0 at Jeld-Wen Field on April 14th, there loomed a daunting six road games in the span of eight for the Portland Timbers. Being an avid Timbers fan, I was well aware of our abysmal road record; fully expecting a meager three or four points out of the possible eighteen. But what has transpired instills me to think that we have a new Timbers team on our hands. A Timbers squad with moxy and vigor; they're hungry and it is very apparent after coming from behind against a talented Sporting KC team and tying with San Jose and FC Dallas.
This new influx of Timber talent may have turned me into a spoiled troll, but both 1-1 draws on the road have been rather dispiriting. I say this largely because the Timbers were ahead of both of those games and just had some defensive let downs. Goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts is playing out of his mind, making mind-defying save after mind-defying save. The weakness to me seems not a lack of talent on the defensive side of the ball either, it's the mindset. The mentality of "We have the lead, so let's play defensively" has backfired against them and left the Timbers with a tinge of despair when the final whistle blows.
The team deserved the three points yesterday against FC Dallas and obtained one. Cynics of my rationale here will rhetorically state how the refs helped Dallas with the PK and then throw down the fact that the Timbers were without a PK in the 2012 season; in which, I will respectfully remind you that teams simply cannot rely on referees to be competent. Not only that, but I supply you with a point of reference where the Timbers had a plethora of chances to capitalize on a goal scoring opportunity. In tonight's game, Frederic Piquionne had a one-on-one with the goalie (a scenario synonymous to Darlington Nagbe against New England last week), but failed to render a goal. To me, these are flat out, in golf terms "Gimmes". I am not entirely sure what Coach Caleb Porter needs to implement in practice to rectify these missed opportunities but something undoubtedly needs to be done.
Lastly, my only gripe: Kalif Alhassan. Shoot the rock man. Please.