By MIKE DONOVAN
PORTLAND, Ore.- For the second consecutive week, the Portland Timbers gave up a lead late at home, as Chivas USA used a Erick Torres goal to earn the 1-1 draw on Saturday night at Providence Park.
Will Johnson scored early for the Timbers, but they were unable to notch their first victory of the season, settling for their fourth home draw of the season. Despite playing at home and being known for their usual possession-heavy style, Portland lost the possession battle to Chivas USA while also being out-shot by a 13-to-eight margin.
After numerous crosses into the area throughout the match, Chivas USA finally got its reward in the 79th minute. Leandro Barrera beat Alvas Powell along the sideline and sent a cross to the unmarked foot of Erick Torres.
The goal was the fifth on the season for Torres, who is in second place in the MLS Golden Boot race behind Clint Dempsey. Timbers defender Pa Madou Kah seemed to be ball-watching as the cross flew in front of him and to Torres.
“Torres is a key guy. We talked about it all week,” Timbers head coach Caleb Porter said. “He’s good at getting in spots to score and we didn’t pick him up.”
Chivas USA finished the match with an incredible 35 crosses, the majority of which were taken by Barrera and Mauro Rosales. While only four of those 35 connected, one of those was the game-tying goal.
“That’s their strength. That’s the way they play. We did a good job eliminating some of the crosses, because I didn’t really face any shots all night,” Donovan Ricketts said. “I think we did a good job, but we slipped up on one.”
Ricketts was making his return from a two-match suspension and faced only two shots-on-target for the match. The first was a soft long ball by Eric Avila with the other being Torres’s goal.
Johnson, the Timbers captain, gave the Timbers a lead early in the match when he left a diving Dan Kennedy little chance as the Canadian International fired a strike into the inside netting. Johnson found space after Darlington Nagbe split a double team with a pass near the top of the penalty area.
Portland’s goal came from an area vacated by centerback Carlos Bocanegra, who was changing his cleats, leaving Chivas USA down a man at the time of Johnson’s goal.
“After we got the goal, we made it far more difficult on ourselves than we needed it to be,” Porter said. “We defended more than we needed to because we kept giving the ball away.”
Chivas USA’s Tommy McNamara, who has started every game of his rookie campaign, was stretchered off midway through the second half with an apparent knee injury. McNamara went to ground without being touched.
Despite the long season still to play, Porter knows his team is not where he had hoped or thought they would be six games into the season.
“We’re behind the eight ball, obviously. There are pretty of examples of teams that have started slow that have won it all,” Porter said. “In the end, we are not where we want to be at this point and we got to step it up.”
Next up for the winless Timbers (0-2-4) is a Western Conference Finals rematch with Real Salt Lake while Chivas USA (1-2-3) will host the Seattle Sounders.
“We’ll just wipe it away and get back to work,” Timbers defender Michael Harrington said. That’s really all you can do, whether it’s a win, loss, a tie, keep it level, don’t get too low and don’t get too high.”
Here are the match highlights: