PORTLAND — There was more bounce to the Timbers’ play on Saturday than Portland has seen in a while.
But the home team couldn’t get the kind of bounce it desperately needed, and the Colorado Rapids used a 92nd-minute goal by Drew Moor to win 1-0 in front of 18,627 at sold-out Jeld-Wen Field.
It was the third consecutive loss for Portland as the Timbers continued to struggle to find the target when scoring chances emerge. Portland outshot Colorado 18-15, and out-chanced the Rapids during a highly intense contest.
But Portland’s best effort in at least a month was overshadowed by the Timbers inability to cash in chances, and by a bizarre finish that turned the focus to MLS officiating. The goal came seconds after Timbers head coach John Spencer was bounced from the game by fourth official Allen Chapman for critiquing the efforts of referee Abiodun Okulaja.
Spencer was blunt in his post-match remarks about the exchange that led to his dismissal. The coach said he complained to Chapman that Okulaja was having “a stinker,” and that the referee was out of shape and calling fouls from too far away.
“I said to the fourth official, ‘(Okulaja) is going to call a foul that’s going to cost a goal,’ ” Spencer said. “Unfortunately, he called a foul against us which I didn’t think was a foul and I told (Okulaja) that.”
The foul was called against Portland’s Eric Brunner right in front of the Timbers bench. The free kick from more than 40 yards out deflected off several bodies before Portland goalkeeper Troy Perkins made the last of his five saves. But the ball bounced around and eventually fell to Moor for a simple finish.
“It ricocheted all over the place,” Portland captain Jack Jewsbury said. “I tried to clear it and I think it hit off someone’s back and then trickled into the middle.”
As exasperating as the game’s finish was, it was the Timbers’ inability to finish chances that brought them to a third consecutive loss.
Among the many opportunities were a couple for late-game substitute Ryan Pore.
He was open for a back post header in the 85th minute that missed wide, then had the ball fall to him for a last-second volley from 12 yards that went high as time expired.
“Extremely frustrating.” Pore said, adding that he had more time and space than he thought he did on his header chance.
“I thought we played our best game of the season at home. We moved the ball well, we just weren’t able to score our chances.”
Kenny Cooper and Jorge Perlaza each had multiple chances, and Darington Nagbe missed from close range in an otherwise strong performance from the rookie midfielder.
Spencer said converting comes down to poise.
“I felt it was the best we’ve played in a month,” the coach said. “We created some very good opportunities that (if) guys had just a little bit more confidence and composure in the box we could have finished a couple.”
• Portland defender Mamadou “Footy” Danso went to the hospital with a shoulder injury in the 30th minute. Postgame reports were that Danso is expected to miss two or three weeks.
• Cooper’s face was bloodied while defending a Colorado corner kick in the first half and he played most of the game with a wrap around his head.