Coming off back-to-back defeats at home in four days in which the Portland Timbers failed to score a goal in either game, they faced what seemed like a must-win match as they hosted Minnesota United FC.
With five games in a span of 15 days, head coach Giovanni Savarese decided to start captain Diego Valeri on the bench, while Sebastian Blanco found himself back in the starting 11 after returning from injury.
With gray cloudy skies and a three-minute silent protest from the Timbers Army, the team’s main fan group, set an early eerie tone to the match as both teams looked to find their footing.
With Jeremy Ebobisse to his left and Andy Polo on his right, Blanco was given the free role behind Brian Fernandez to create and be the attacking spark that the Timbers had been missing the last few matches. It seemed to work early on as Minnesota played with a very narrow backline on defense which opened up wide spaces for Polo and Ebobisse to expose.
Savarese was forced to his bench early on as an injury to Andres Flores in the 20th minute lead to Cristhian Paredes coming on in his place. As the first half rolled along, it was Portland taking control of the game little by little as working through Blanco in the midfield and the outside backs in Zarek Valentin and Jorge Moreira moving forward into the attack.
With Minnesota playing so compact and narrow on defense, a wide ball out to Valentin, found the pass to Fernandez which forced keeper Vito Mannone into a nice save in the 36th minute.
Still, after a first half that saw Portland build in confidence and momentum, they entered the half tied 0-0 and had gone 225 minutes without a goal as Blanco’s left-footed shot from outside the box found the crossbar but nothing more.
In the second half as Portland began to push up needing a goal at home, it was Minnesota who came closest to scoring when Jan Gregus rattled the crossbar. It was after that scare that Portland began creating chances that forced Mannone into a number of saves but still couldn’t find the back of the net.
— OptaJack⚽️ (@OptaJack) September 22, 2019
The last real chance fell to Minnesota as Mason Toye found himself alone with only Steve Clark to beat as Diego Chara feel asleep in the back allowing Toye to try and win all three points from Minnesota, but a block from Clark saved Portland.
At the end, Portland were unable to find the back of the net for a third game in a row. The draw put them in 7th place and tied with Dallas and San Jose on points with 44. As for Minnesota, the draw puts them in third place with 49 points.