A talented Portland roster put all their skills on display Wednesday night in Providence Park, overwhelming the Rapids early. Portland used implements far finer than a chainsaw to carve open the Rapids time after time in the attack; deft dribbling from Sebastian Blanco and Diego Valeri; a fabulous hooking shot from Darlington Nagbe; and put-it-through-a-pinhole crossing from Vytautas Andriuškevičius. And despite a solo steal-and-shoot for a goal from Mohammed Saeid, in the end, it was too, too much, as Colorado fell, 2-1.
After a tense first 20 minutes for both teams, with the Rapids conceding possession and looking to erupt on a counter-attack, it would be the Woodsmen that struck first. In the 21st minute, left back Vytas was given far too much space and winged in a cross to the box. Nobody was marking Diego Valeri. That’s the same Diego Valeri that had 14 goals 9 assists coming in to the match and is the current favorite for MLS MVP. While Luis Gil and Mekeil Williams were staring into space, Valeri streaked in and pounded a header low and right of keeper Tim Howard to go ahead, 1-0.
Just two minutes later, the Timbers were given both time and space to work with, and with the Rapids defense standing off him, Vytas slid a calm 8 yard pass to Darlington Nagbe at left side just inside the box. Nagbe spun 180 degrees, cocked his right foot sideways and whacked a looping, spinning ball up, over Tim Howard, and right into the top right of the goal for Portlands second goal. It felt like perhaps a rout was on.
The Rapids came back. In the 28th minute, Mo Saeid picked off a careless pass from Lawrence Olum and charged forward. Olum closed him down, but Saeid nailed a shot between the wickets of the towering Olum, and the ball would continue on it’s path, slotting itself home in low left corner of the net, to bring the score to 2-1.
A bit of drama occured in the 30th minute, when upon video review, Mike da Fonte was caught pulling down Diego Valeri in the box. But it went for naught, as David Guzman took the PK and shanked it wide left.
The Rapids began aggressively pushing forward numbers at the 32nd and onward, which resulted in the Timbers getting several counter-attacks with superior numbers against Colorado. The rapids got two consecutive emergency defensive efforts from Eric Miller, playing as a central defender, to save their behinds.
As the half ended, the numbers told a bit of the story, as the Timbers outpossessed the Rapids 66% to 34%.
After a calm restart with the two teams settling in, the next action was a flurry of substitutions from Rapids Interim Head Coach Steve Cooke. Marlon Hairston subbed on for Dillon Serna at the 58th minute and immediately torched the defense and got a shot; high and wide. Joshua Gatt cames off for Dominique Badji at 62 minute mark. That was soon followed with Kevin Doyle making way for Alan Gordan in the 67th minute.
Nagbe was on the dribble at the Rapids end, and Kort Ford could do nothing but tackle him throwball style in the 67th minute at 25 yds out. The free kick went right into the Rapids five-man wall, with Mike da Fonte taking it square in the jaw. da Fonte tried to repay the favor with offense in the 78th, as he had a perfect read on a pop-up and brought down the ball perfectly on the attacking end from 30 yards out, firing a shot that sailed high.
In the 85th, Sebastian Blanco absolutely owned Kort Ford on a dribble in from the left, causing the big rookie to fall like his ankles had been surgically removed. Blanco blasted the open 12 yard shot over the bar, though
Hairston at the 88th shook two defenders wide to the right and lofted a decent ball into Gordon, but Timbers keeper Attinella got there first. He did nearly the same thing in stoppage time, but the ref called Dom Badji for a push in the box and waved off the play.
A few plays later, and the ref blew the whistle, giving the Rapids their 7th winless match in row. The Rapids are also as yet winless on the road for the 2017, with a 0-2-9 (WTL) record away from Commerce City. The team is also still staked to a woeful 22 points through 24 matches, or 0.92 points per game, putting them on pace for the worst season in Rapids history since their 5-8-13, 0.88 PPG finish in 2001.