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Timbers manage two shots on target; Philly scores early in each half and beats Portland 2-0 at Providence Park.

Distracted? Tired? Or, just outplayed?

Whatever it was, the Portland Timbers struggled to create real scoring chances on Sunday, May 22, as the Philadelphia Union (6-1-6, 24 points) came to Providence Park and showed why they lead the Eastern Conference in a 2-0 win over the Timbers (3-5-6, 15 points; 10th in the Western Conference).

Portland did have a goal waived off for offside after a lengthy video review, and finally forced Philly's Andre Blake to show off his goalkeeping skills twice in the final minutes on shots from Yimmi Chara and, of course, Bill Tuiloma), but — at the end of a three-match week — the Timbers were largely unable to create any real trouble for the Union defense.

Scoring plays

Union, 4th minute — Daniel Gazdag scores with an over-the-head kick from six yards out after a long throw-in was flicked on to the middle of the penalty area.

Union, 48th minute — Sergio Santos makes a strong play to head home service from Kai Wagner. Wagner was allowed plenty of time and space on the left wing to deliver a dangerous cross and Santos was first to react to the ball.

Big picture — To be fair, things aren't breaking well for the Timbers these days. On Sunday, an early hamstring injury to Eryk Williamson certainly didn't help. And, who knows how the match might have turned out if Sebastian Blanco's 69th-minute goal had stood up? But, fact is, the Timbers didn't put an official shot on target until the 86th minute and never looked dangerous until throwing extra players into the attack.

Granted, Philadelphia is one of the better defensive outfits in MLS. But Portland, for all of its possession, didn't have much player movement off the ball, which made creating seams in the Union defense difficult and didn't give the announced crowd of 22,288 at Providence Park much to get excited about.

It's only a third of the way into the season, and injuries and illness continue to hamstring the Timbers. But, Portland again was unable to create much real danger when it had to play from behind against an opponent hyper aware not to let the Timbers get out and run on counterattacks.

Challenge ahead — With Diego Chara (yellow card accumulation), Williamson (hamstring) and likely Dario Zuparic (late match knock of heads) expected to miss next weekend's trip to Miami FC, coach Giovanni Savarese and staff will face more lineup juggling, it appears.

About that overturned goal — Referee Allen Chapman, after reviewing the play for several minutes, ruled that a glancing touch on the head of Portland's Josecarlos Van Rankin on a cross from Bill Tuiloma put Portland's Santiago Moreno offside before the ball reached Moreno, whose shot attempt resulted in Blanco's rebound finish.

While the decision appeared to be the correct one, the fact that it took minutes to find an angle that showed Van Rankin's head made contact with the ball seems to prove it was not originally a "clear and obvious error" to allow the goal.

Savarese's future? — Oregonian/Oregonlive.com reporter Ryan Clarke twice asked Savarese during the postgame press conference about a report out of Italy that Savarese will be the next coach for Venezia FC of Venice, Italy. The coach declined to address the subject.

"I'd rather talk about the game today. This is the most important thing. And for me, I'm the coach of Portland Timbers and this was a tough game to digest," Savarese said.

Reset ahead? — After the May 28 match at Miami concludes a six-match May (including the U.S. Open Cup match), the Timbers are idle until a June 18 visit to the LA Galaxy and play only three June games. The hope, of course, is that some of Portland's missing players — particularly at the striker position — can be available after this international break in the schedule.

Timbers' next match — Portland at Miami CF, 5 p.m. Saturday, May 28 (FOX 12 Plus).


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