Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By IAN HOLLIDAY
FOXBORO, Mass.– The expansion Portland Timbers have earned the first point of their MLS history, but the club could easily have gotten more.
The Timbers played to a 1-1 draw with the New England Revolution Saturday night at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. After spotting their hosts a 1-0 lead midway through the first half, the visitors equalized seven minutes before the break, and had multiple chances to pull ahead in the second half.
Rookie Stephen McCarthy opened the scoring for the Revolution in the 22nd minute with his first career goal. Timbers defender David Horst attempted to head a Zak Boggs cross out of the penalty area. The clearance only went as far as McCarthy, who struck a bouncing shot past Gleeson.
The sequence began in the 21st minute when Sainey Nyassi's effort from distance forced Gleeson to palm the ball onto the crossbar for a corner. After three Revs' crosses, the ball finally fell to McCarthy.
"I wanted to be in a good spot because the ball was kind of popping around," he said after the match.
Five minutes later, the Revs had a good chance to add to their lead when Zack Schilawski crashed in on goal chasing a lofted ball from Pat Phelan, but the second-year man didn't get a solid touch, and the ball skipped harmlessly over the end-line as Schilawski and Gleeson landed in a heap.
Portland drew level in the 38th minute when Kenny Cooper found Jeremy Hall at the top of the Revolution box. The midfielder took two touches with his back to goal before laying the ball off to Jewsbury, who buried a low shot in the left corner of Reis' goal.
The goal seemed to give the expansion club confidence. They began the second half much more brightly than they had the first, controlling more possession and creating a number of chances.
Portland's best chance of the second half came in the 70th minute when Kalif Alhassan drove a hard, curling freekick off the base of the Revs' right post.
Head coach John Spencer said he was proud of the way his team responded after allowing the first goal.
“We could’ve just put our heads down, and died a little bit – third game in eight days. [We had] to dig in, come back and get something out of a good and very physical team," Spencer said. "I thought we matched them very well."
New England's best chance of the half came in the 79th minute, when Gambian midfielders Sainey Nyassi and Kenny Mansally combined to spring Nyassi on goal. He scuffed his shot, which trickled across the face of goal, eluding two Revolution players on its way out for a goal kick.
The draw keeps the Revolution (1-0-2) undefeated on the season, but head coach Steve Nicol said he was disappointed with the way his club played.
“The bottom line is we didn’t pass the ball well so it wouldn’t have mattered who we played tonight," Nicol said. "We didn’t pass the ball at all, all night, and when that happens, you’re going to struggle.”
Nicol and his team won't have too long to dwell on the result, however, as New England returns to action Wednesday at Vancouver.
The Timbers (0-2-1) will look to build on Saturday's result when they play their first-ever MLS home game on April 14 against Chicago.