Maximiliano Urruti (green jersey) in MLS action against visiting Sporting Kansas City on June 27, 2014. (Photo: Craig Mitchelldyer)
PORTLAND, Oregon -- The Portland Timbers have been trending upward since the first week of March. They've won four straight road matches, including a 3-1 triumph over fellow 2014/15 CONCACAF Champions League qualifier Sporting Kansas City in the fifth round of the U.S. Open Cup on June 24.
It has not, however, been all been rosy in the Rose City.
Despite taking care of business on the road, the Timbers then lost a tough, emotional game at home to Sporting on Friday, 1-0, this time in MLS play.
“It’s massively disappointing, the result,” said head coach Caleb Porter. “You can call it cruel. I’ve seen this result time and time again over the years. Call it cruel, you can say that we shouldn’t have lost. But on the other side, it’s fair too because we didn’t score a goal.”
Portland controlled much of the match, posting statistically significant advantages in possession (67% to 33%) possession and passing accuracy (79% - 59%). Despite Kansas City assuming somewhat of a cautious approach after taking a 24th minute lead, the Timbers could not convert on the chances they generated in the final 20 minutes of play. As a result, an opportunity to leapfrog rival Vancouver Whitecaps for fifth place in the Western Conference was missed.
“You just have to finish the chances you get,” added Porter. “We still had a lot of chances, a lot of moments. When a team sits like that deep and they’re organized it comes down to moments; a set piece like they got, a cross or a combination play.”
The Timbers are still in transition at this point in the season. General Manager Gavin Wilkinson added target forward Fanendo Adi on loan from FC Copenhagen earlier in May, and, on June 23, exercised the option to make the move permanent.
Even after inking Adi, Wilkinson still wasn't quite done making moves.
On June 25, the club announced the signing of former West Bromwich Albion and Aston Villa defender Liam Ridgewell. The 29-year-old is expected to join the squad in a couple of weeks and his addition should solidify Portland at center back, where it has struggled most.
Despite their recent loss, Portland has toughened as of late, allowing just two goals and scoring three across two matches with Sporting Kansas City last week. The Timbers are a team on the cusp. With the addition of Ridgewell, supporters are hoping they will see an end to their frustrations soon.