Another stinging defeat Timbers
Portland Timbers’ Steven Smith defends against Chivas USA’s Cesar Romero
PORTLAND, Oregon ● Brent Richards got his opportunity to start on Saturday. And the Camas native had a couple of opportunities to put his mark on the Portland Timbers match against Chivas USA.
But in a performance that summed up the Timbers’ 2012 season, it was missed opportunities that told the story for Richards and his teammates in a 1-0 loss before an announced sellout audience of 20,438 at Jeld-Wen Field.
“I thought we did some good things in the first half. We created a lot of chances, but we didn’t put it away,” Richards said. “I’ve got to look at myself. I had several chances that I think I should have finished.”
While Portland missed chances left, right and high, Chivas turned one Portland breakdown into the game’s lone goal. In the 68th minute, Chivas forward Danny Califf was first to a long free kick delivery by Ben Zemanski and drove a header into the goal. Portland goalkeeper Troy Perkins raced out to try to punch the free kick from trouble, but didn’t get there in time and left the entire target for Califf to hit.
Perkins took the blame for that miscue. But striker Kris Boyd and Richards each said they should have cashed in on quality chances for the home team.
“We created numerous opportunities and should have scored numerous goals. I put my hand up for that,” Boyd said. The best of those chances for Boyd came in the 42nd minute when a cross from the left wing bounced free in front of goal but appeared to catch the striker mid-stride. Boyd stumbled over the ball and that opportunity was gone.
Richards said he felt good about his own first-half effort, which included a left-footed one-timer off a Franck Songo’o cross that missed wide left.
“Instead of blasting it with my left foot, I tried to do an inside-the-foot shot and it went just wide,” Richards said. “I didn’t hit it quite like I wanted to. But it was a perfect ball from Franck, and that should be put away every time.”
Richards later drove a shot on the run just inside the 18-yard box that forced a reaction save from Chivas USA goalkeeper Dan Kennedy.
The free kick that produced the Chivas goal came from near the middle of the field after the Timbers’ Songo’o committed a foul that earned him a yellow card. That one moment allowed Chivas (7-8-5, 26 points) to beat Portland (5-12-4) for the third time this season, completing a sweep that would have been considered an upset at the start of this season — and sending the Timbers deeper into the Major League Soccer cellar.
The visitors from Los Angeles won a match on Saturday in which Portland owned plenty of attacking possession against the defensive-minded visitors with nothing to show for it. Portland out-shot Chivas USA 19-8 and forced Kennedy to make six saves.
In his first MLS start, Richards played into the 74th minute, when both he and fellow wing Songo’o were replaced by Eric Alexander and Kalif Alexander to inject fresh legs into the attack.
He didn’t score, but Richards’ made an impact in the air. On several occasions Richards out-jumped a defender and headed the ball toward the 6-yard box. Among those was a set play from a Songo’o free kick in the first half that Richards headed down toward a charging Kris Boyd, who lobbied for a foul call that didn’t come.
At the defensive end, Richards made a diving header to clear a first-half Chivas corner kick from danger, a play that sparked a promising Portland counter attack.
Richards also was a frequent target of long balls from Perkins. He won his share of those and forced Chivas into misplaying several others. His other assignment was to take throw-ins in the attacking third of the field.
Among Boyd’s missed chances were a difficult attempt off his own back heel created from a Richards’ flick-on header. The striker also forced Kennedy to tip a 25-yard try over the bar in the second half.
Prior to Saturday, Richards had appeared in two of the Timbers last three MLS games, logging a total of 61 minutes off the bench.
Richards started the right wing as Portland general manager and head coach Gavin Wilkinson used a modified formation that put Boyd up front flanked by Richards and Songo’o in attacking wing positions with Diego Chara and Darlington Nagbe filling channels as attacking midfielders.
Richards and Songo’o swapped wings about 15 minutes before each left the match.
The formation managed to create some hope, especially in a high-paced first half. But the end result was another stinging defeat.