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Friday, February 23, 2024
Feb. 23, 2024

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Timbers think they deserved better than draw

By , Columbian Soccer, hockey and Community Sports Reporter

PORTLAND — It was not enough to extinguish the heat on the Portland Timbers. But a fantastic goal from Jack Jewsbury at least provided some reprieve for the Timbers and their faithful on Sunday at steamy Jeld-Wen Field.

The team captain connected on a volley from the top of the arc for a goal that earned the Timbers a 1-1 draw against visiting Dallas.

The result did little to lift the long-shot playoff hopes for the Timbers (5-12-5). But by fighting back from a second-half deficit with an urgent effort that breathed life into the announced sellout crownd of 20,438, they did end a losing string that had reached five games.

More significant, the Timbers showed resiliency that was embarrassingly absent in a 5-0 loss at Dallas 15 days earlier.

“It still feels like a loss,” Timbers goalkeeper Troy Perkins said. “We deserved three points. We should have got three points. At the end of the day we need those points, so it’s still a little bit demoralizing.”

Franck Songo’o, whose play on the left wing threatened to burn FC Dallas worse than the heat that was roasting the players’ feet, echoed that sentiment.

“I don’t think any of our players are happy,” Songo’o said. “Because I thought we could have won. We created way more chances than them. But the ball didn’t go through (the goalposts), so we’ve just got to keep working.”

General manager and interim head coach Gavin Wilkinson, on the other hand, said he was encouraged by both the quality of play and the response from his team after Dallas used a counter-attack to go up 1-0 six minutes after halftime.

“I don’t think the guys hung their heads. I think they kept working hard,” Wilkinson said. “With everything that we’ve gone through at the moment, I think it’s a tremendous sign that they didn’t give up.”

Rookie Brent Richards from Camas started on the right wing, the second consecutive starting assignment for the 22-year-old.

He played into the 61st minute, when Wilkinson replaced Richards and striker Kris Boyd and changed to a two-striker formation by inserting Bright Dike and Danny Mwanga. Richards was not credited with a shot, though he had a potential chance bounce away from his chest in the 18th minute and tried a header from a free kick that went wide from a sharp angle.

Scott Sealy scored the Dallas goal, but Brek Shea did the work with a left-wing burst and perfect cross that left Perkins with no chance to deny Sealy.

With 40 minutes to play, the visitors were happy to sit back in a defensive formation to protect that lead, an approach that became more pronounced after left back Zach Loyd received his second yellow card of the match in the 52nd minute — which forced Dallas to play 10 against 11 for the rest of the afternoon.

“It’s tough to break teams down” when they hunker down and crowd their defensive third of the field, Jewsbury said. “I thought we did a pretty good job and created some really, really solid chances, and Kevin (Hartman) came up pretty big on a couple of them.”

The Dallas goalkeeper made six saves in a match where the Timbers put seven of their 21 shots on target. Among Hartman’s best saves were reaction stops to deny Boyd and Mwanga, and a brave sliding challenge on a Dike breakaway.

“You’ve just got to applaud that sometimes,” said Songo’o, who forced two of Hartman’s saves.

The Dallas goalkeeper had no shot on Jewsbury’s goal. Though the team captain has taken on a more defensive midfield role in recent games, he was at the right spot when a loose ball fell at the top of the arc 22 yards in front of goal. He did not let the ball bounce, catching it squarely with his left foot and sending a scorcher into the goal.

“It felt good. Obviously, I hit it solid,” Jewsbury said. “I don’t know how it popped out but it came out pretty high and it was just a matter of staying focused on it and try to hit it solid and I did.”

One goal was not enough to get Portland a win, something the Timbers have not managed since July 3.

But it gave Jewsbury’s team a small reward for a pretty good effort.

“We’re happy to come back from a goal (down),” Jewsbury said. “But any time you’re at home, you’re expecting to get three points. And I thought we played a good enough game today to do that.”

Columbian Soccer, hockey and Community Sports Reporter