For the first time in their short MLS history, the Portland Timbers have lost four games in a row. After getting off to a promising start at the Home Depot Center April 14, the Timbers lost to the Los Angeles Galaxy by a 1-3 margin.
The game started well for the Timbers, and they took the early lead. Kris Boyd got his third goal of the year in the 23rd minute, on a nicely executed run in which he deftly kept onside and then slashed the ball past Galaxy goalkeeper Josh Saunders. Just a minute later Boyd fired again, but Saunders made a stop. The Timbers' star DP wasn't through, and found the back of the net again, but was flagged offside in what looked to be a questionable call.
Hanyer Mosquera returned to the lineup for Portland, and looked very good on his return. Kalif Alhassan was back as well, and played solid minutes. The Timbers were the better team on the pitch for the first half.
Mike Chabala started his first game of the season for Portland and put forth a good outing. Steve Purdy was also in the starting XI for the first time this year. The Galaxy tested his side again and again, and he gave a strong effort in response.
The problem was that the Timbers, for whatever reason, once again became vulnerable at crucial moments. The first lapse came near the end of the first period, when Landon Donovan was able to bring the Galaxy level. It started when Eric Brunner slipped on the turf and Robbie Keane got clear to send a fine pass in for Donovan, who put it away.
Both sides traded chances through the middle part of the second half. A fine clearance at the goal by Franck Songo'o kept the score level and the Timbers in the match. Then, the game went out of hand close to the end once again.
Juninho scored in the 83rd minute with what proved to be the game-winner. The stoppage time strike from David Beckham was just the icing on the cake for the home side.
What's the fix?
It's a hard to define problem that is confronting the Timbers. In the loss to Chivas USA, many singled out the play of Lovel Palmer, who wasn't started against the Galaxy. His gaffes in that game were easy to identify. In this loss, there wasn't a particular moment that one can point to that represented a Timbers' failure.
The challenge for head coach John Spencer will be to push the positives while trying to nail down just why the losses are coming. It doesn't get any easier in the coming week. The Timbers return home to play the now 6-0 Sporting Kansas City at Jeld-Wen Field April 21.
Jeff Musall has been a fan of the Portland Timbers since moving to the area in 2001. He is excited about the 2012 season and hopes for a quick turnaround of the Rose City side's fortunes.
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