Timbers drop match at LAFC
A nine-minute onslaught from Los Angeles FC was the difference on Sunday, Sept. 13, as LAFC earned a 4-2 win over the Portland Timbers in Major League Soccer action at Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles.
Eryk Williamson and Jeremy Ebobisse scored first-half goals for Portland, but the Timbers could not find the tying strike in a second half that was scoreless until LAFC added its fourth goal in the final seconds of added time.
The Timbers are 4-4-2 (14 points) and sit sixth in the Western Conference. LAFC, which had lost two in a row and four of five entering Sunday, is 4-4-3 (15 points) and in fourth place.
The Timbers started well and took the lead in wonderful fashion in the 25th minute, as Williamson registered his second goal in as many games. The play started on the defensive end and 10 Timbers touched the ball on a buildup that featured a series of one-touch passes. The last of those was by Felipe Mora, who slipped the ball to Williamson in the right side of the box.
Williamson calmly moved around Mark-Anthony Kaye for the finish.
"It's not often I find myself on the back post kind of open," Williamson said. "It just shows the confidence we have in building up. It was a great moment for the team and I think once we look back at the video we'll see it's a lot of the things we want to be doing offensively."
But, following a hydration break, the tenor of the match changed and the home side found its confidence and scored three times in a nine-minute span that ultimately decided the outcome.
"We had a very good game for the majority of the match. Fifteen minutes from the water break to the end of the first half we give up three goals and we make it difficult on us," Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese said.
Beginning with Kaye converting at the back post from a corner kick in the 37th minute, the home side scored three times in nine minutes. Diego Rossi was played into open space by Brian Rodriguez in the 41st minute and Bradley Wright-Phillips was unmarked in front on a play that started from a free kick to make it 3-1.
Savarese said it was a mental breakdown from his team, which was caught pressuring higher up the field and allowed LAFC's midfielders to find time and space.
"The change was the mentality, that's all," Savarese said.
"I think it was just a mental breakdown from us. Everyone's frustrated about those 15 minutes," Williamson said. "We just needed to get on the ball, and that's where we lacked a bit of leadership and some of the other guys."
Portland answered that with Ebobisse's fourth goal of the season, a header from a lofted delivery by Jorge Villafana, on the final play of the first half.
The score stayed 3-2 until Danny Musovski scored in the final few seconds of the match.
Diego Valeri had Portland's best shots at a third goal. His free kick in the 62nd minute smashed off the right post. In the 69th minute, a curling effort from Valeri was handled by goalkeeper Pablo Sisniega. And in the 83rd minute, the ball found Valeri with a bit of space in the left side of the penalty area, but his effort went high.
Portland was without midfielder Diego Chara (yellow card accumulation) and center back Larrys Mabiala (thigh). The Timbers will be without attacker Sebastian Blanco (ACL tear) for the remainder of the season.
But those absences weren't a factor in the outcome, according to Ebobisse.
"We all need to be ready to step up," he said. "I wouldn't say it was on any of the guys who filled in for the regulars there. It was on the collective. We didn't support each other in those 15 minutes. We didn't make the plays. These 90 minutes are a series of game-making plays. Against a team like LAFC, you get punished. So there is plenty of frustration to go around."
The Timbers are on the road for consecutive games at San Jose at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday (FS1 television) and at 7:30 p.m. Saturday (KPDX television).
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