For years, the Portland Timbers have played the majority of their Open Cup matches on the road in hostile environments (see: last year’s win against Seattle at Starfire) but finally, the cards had fallen their favor: first one, then a second home match.
But their opponent in that second match, the LA Galaxy, proved to be too much for the Timbers to handle.
“It’s disappointing to be out of the competition,” Portland head coach Caleb Porter said after Portland’s 1-0 loss to the Galaxy Wednesday night at Providence Park. “I think what makes it even more disappointing is losing the home game. Obviously this year, we had a couple games at home and if we would have won this one, we would have been back at home.”
“I thought we lost the game in the first ten minutes,” Porter continued. “I thought the last 80 minutes, we were the better team.”
The lone goal of the game came in that first ten minutes when a fifth minute pass from Emmanuel Boateng found Raul Mendiola 15 yards out. Mendiola put the ball into the bottom corner past Portland keeper Wade Hamilton and that was that.
Where the Timbers struggled to find their defensive footing (the team’s MLS lineup is captained by veteran centerback Liam Ridgewell, who was not included on its Open Cup roster), LAG’s defenders allowed no space for Portland to move offensively.
“It’s a game of moments,” Porter said. “Too much back-foot defending, you need to be more aggressive. I do think a part of that was not having Ridgy in there. He’s the guy that leads the line. You sort it out over the next 80 minutes and it wasn’t sorted out.”
“We played very well,” Galaxy manager Bruce Arena said. “We have a very good team, we just haven’t had it together this year for long periods of time…It was a game we thought we could win and I was real pleased we could come here and walk away with the win.”
“I was surprised so many people came out,” Arena said. “The field’s much better this year with the new surface. It’s never easy, but if you have to play on an artificial field, this is the one to play on. The combination of a great environment and the fact that you can play a little bit on this field as opposed to some of the others is good. All the credit always to the Portland supporters. They do a magnificent job for their team. You know, one day, we’d like to see the whole league look like Portland in terms of their base of support.”