By MIKE DONOVAN
The Portland Timbers and Colorado Rapids each came into Saturday’s match searching for its first victory in 2013. The Rapids looked like they just might find that first win, but the Timbers had other ideas and managed to pull off yet another comeback in a season that has lacked wins but not thrilling comebacks.
The Timbers rallied back from two goals down, with Will Johnson scoring both goals, including an equalizing penalty kick to help the Timbers salvage a 2-2 draw at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Saturday night.
While head coach Caleb Porter was unhappy to go down early for the fourth straight match, he did appreciate his team’s effort in coming back.
“You’ve got to push to try to get something out of the game,” said Porter, who is still searching for his first win as a MLS manager. “Most teams would have crumbled, but we didn’t, we kept fighting, and we got a point out of it.”
After three straight games with dominant possession and passing numbers, the Timbers seemed to struggle against Colorado and their lineup that was littered with reserves and unexperienced players. The Rapids were able to outshoot Portland 18-9 for the match, but were unable to hold onto a two-goal lead.
Colorado took the lead in the 18th minute behind a rocket off the foot of Dillon Powers. The first-round pick from Notre Dame was left unmarked near the top of the box and made his first career goal a memorable one with a wonderful strike.
The Rapids were able to double their lead after a controversial penalty call just after halftime. Tony Cascio easily maneuvered around Ben Zemanski and Andrew Jean-Baptiste and found himself between Donovan Ricketts and Diego Chara. Cascio then went down in the box and referee Drew Fischer pointed to the spot. Hendry Thomas slotted the penalty kick home to give Colorado the lead.
Up to that point in the match, Colorado had seemed to have the edge having hit the post twice in addition to their two goals. However, the Rapids were unable to hold onto the lead for the second time in their last three matches.
Colorado manager Oscar Pereja admitted in the postgame that his strategy for the game changed after the Rapids second goal.
“At that point, I tried to change a little bit here and there when they brought in another forward,” Pereja said. “I thought the game in the second half was pretty level.”
Portland got on the board for the first time when Ryan Johnson put in a cross to an unmarked Will Johnson. The Timbers captain had no trouble heading the ball past the outstretched hand of a diving Clint Irwin.
Sixteen minutes after Portland’s first goal, the Timbers were awarded a penalty kick for the first time in 38 matches when David Horst got taken down by Atiba Harris. Will Johnson put the penalty kick home to tie up the match. The game marks the first time in his 124 MLS matches that Will Johnson has been able to score multiple goals.
The match also marked the debut of Edson Buddle for the Colorado Rapids. Buddle played the first 60 minutes of the match, before giving way to Harris. Buddle finished the game with no shots and was called offside on multiple occasions.
“My first game back, I felt like it was my first game back. A little unfit, not as explosive, repetitive running as I’d like to do,” Buddle admitted after the match.
The draw gives the Rapids (0-3-2) their second point of the season and its first one at home. Next up for Colorado is a home match against rival Real Salt Lake next Saturday. Meanwhile Portland (0-1-3) will return to the Rose City to take on the Houston Dynamo at Jeld-Wen Field.
Here are the match highlights: