Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By MIKE DONOVAN
PORTLAND, Ore. — Pa Modou Kah scored a 94th-minute equalizer Wednesday as the Timbers came back from a two-goal deficit to draw with a FC Dallas side that ended the match with nine players on the field.
In the final MLS match before the World Cup, Fabian Castillo and Blas Perez scored first-half goals for FC Dallas, but late Will Johnson and Kah goals were enough for Portland to salvage the 2-2 draw in front of another sellout crowd at Providence Park.
Kah’s equalizer was a cap in a wild 15 final minutes that saw two goals, red cards to FC Dallas’ Moises Hernandez and Perez, Gaston Fernandez pinging the ball off a post and FC Dallas assistant coach Josema Bazan sent off after a dust-up near the Dallas bench with a fan.
Down a goal and playing against a team down two men, the Timbers went for broke sending everyone except Donovan Ricketts towards the goal. It paid off when the Kah chested down a Urruti pass in stoppage time, turned and fired the ball past Raul Fernandez. It was the Gambian’s first ever Major League Soccer goal. It was the fifth consecutive home game that the Timbers scored in the final five minutes of a match.
Despite another comeback, the Timbers know that another home draw (seven in nine home matches) is not what they wanted.
“We came out in the second half and it was much better, but it’s still bittersweet,” Johnson said. “On one hand it’s difficult to come back two goals and get a draw, but at the same time, it’s tough because there were some really good chances that we missed.”
Just two minutes before Kah’s goal, Perez was sent off for a rough challenge versus Kah. Perez received his marching orders, just minutes after Hernandez was sent off for a studs-up challenge on Danny O’Rourke.
Portland got its first goal when Fanedo Adi was tripped in the box by Je-Vaughan Watson and referee Alan Kelly pointed to the spot. After a lively discussion over who would take the spot-kick between Johnson and Gaston Fernandez, the Timbers captain eventually took the ball and easily scored when Raul Fernandez went the wrong way.
“It’s two passionate guys going for the ball, wanting to do the right thing for the team,” Johnson said. “Once we get back in here, I gave him a big hug. I respect him as a teammate, he’s been a great addition to the club.”
It was a tale of two halves as Dallas found numerous openings in the first 45, while a desperate Portland club threw bodies forward in the second half in search of goals. The first half saw Castillo continued his recent run-of-form, when he put his side ahead 27 minutes into the match. The 21-year-old Colombian, mid-sprint, chested down a Perez chipped pass and streaked by a helpless Rauwshan McKenzie before slotting the ball into the net. It was the second straight match with a goal for Castillo and his fifth tally of the season.
Dallas doubled its lead in the 39th minute when rookie Tesho Akindele dribbled the ball from his own half all the way to the Timbers penalty area, before finding multiple options at the top of the box. Castillo stepped over the ball and Perez blasted it home for his fifth goal of the season, tying him with Castillo and the injured Michel for the team lead.
FC Dallas used its speed to create numerous opportunities including its two goals and a shot that went off the post. The Timbers had little match for Akindele and Castillo until the halftime substitution of Danny O’Rourke for McKenzie.
“It was embarrassing,” Porter said in regards to the first half. “It was abysmal defending, but that will be corrected, no doubt about it.”
The red cards were not the only incident involving FC Dallas and the referee. Bazem, a FC Dallas assistant coach, was sent off for “not behaving in a responsible manner within the technical area,” according to Kelly. Bazem and other Dallas staff and players got into an argument with a fan next to the bench area after it appeared the fan doused them with liquid.
After the final whistle, an incensed Castillo charged at the assistant referee, bumping him, before being forcefully restrained by teammate Peter Luccin. Head Coach Oscar Pareja had no comment regarding the incident after the match.
The Timbers finished the match with 30 shots, the most recorded by a MLS team in a single game since the Miami Fusion had 30 in a 2001 match with the Kansas City Wizards.
“There were a good majority of guys that bailed us out and got us that draw,” Porter said.
While both teams won’t be in league action for more than two weeks, Portland (4-4-8, 20 points) will take on Orlando City Soccer Club’s U-23 side in the U.S. Open Cup fourth round at Providence Park on Tuesday. That same day, FC Dallas (6-7-4, 22 points) will host the San Antonio Scorpions.
“We’re not out of it, by any stretch, so that’s a positive,” Johnson said. “But we are not where we want to be with this club and this group of players, we should be higher.”