MLS Match Recap: Columbus Crew 1, Portland Timbers 0
COLUMBUS – The Portland Timbers' club-record 15-match undefeated streak was snapped on Sunday afternoon as the Columbus Crew took advantage of an early goal and red card to hand the Timbers their first road loss of 2013 with a 1-0 win at Crew Stadium.
Bernardo Anor's 5th-minute goal, his second in as many games, stood as the game-winner to end a three-match losing streak for the Crew.
Sunday's loss spoiled the Buckeye state return of former University of Akron coach Caleb Porter, who was making his first visit as Portland's coach. The Timbers (7-2-9, 30 points) were 7-0-8 since losing to Montreal back on March 9 and they were also undefeated on the road (2-0-7).
The Crew used a familiar combination to take the lead in the fifth minute as Federico Higuain found Anor on a header off a restart, the same way Anor scored Thursday against Los Angeles. This time, Higuain's left corner kick went to the 6-yard box where Anor powered his attempt inside the near post.
A bad start was made worse for Portland when Pa-Modou Kah earned a red card and conceded a penalty for committing a foul on Crew forward Aaron Schoenfeld in the box. Kah lost inside position to Schoenfeld and attempted to stop the forward, but stuck his right foot into Schoenfeld's forehead.
Luckily for the Timbers, Higuain missed the 12th-minute penalty kick. The Argentine failed to convert for the second time in six tries this season from the spot when his shot skimmed outside the left post and the outstretched arms of goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts.
With Portland down a man and on the scoreboard, Porter was forced to go the bench in the 14th minute and brought in substitute defender Futty Danso for winger Kalif Alhassan.
Despite the Timbers being reduced to 10 men, they didn't deviate from their possession game and opened the second half in control. Their pressure almost resulted in the equalizer in the 55th minute when defender Andrew Jean-Baptiste headed Valeri's corner kick off the right post.
Higuain then tried to make up for his PK misfire by freeing Dominic Oduro on an early entry pass in the 65th minute, but the speedy Ghanaian booted his shot harmlessly across the goalmouth.
Ricketts kept his team in the match with a timely save in the 75th minute when Higuain's lofted ball found Crew sub Ethan Finlay, whose diving header was swatted over the crossbar by Ricketts.
That save reenergized Portland but Timbers playmaker Diego Valeri missed on a wide open look from 13 yards, sending his strike over the goal in the 77th minute.
The Timbers had one more golden opportunity denied in the 87th minute when Crew goalkeeper Matt Lampson, playing the first time this season for the injured Andy Gruenebaum (shoulder), made a save on a blistering strike by Darlington Nagbe that was ticketed for the upper right corner.
Each team made wholesale changes to their respective lineups with three of Portland's four necessitated by CONCACAF Gold Cup call-ups to Will Johnson (Canada), Rodney Wallace (Costa Rica), and Frédéric Piquione (Martinique). The trio had combined for 10 goals and 12 assists this season.
Crew manager Robert Warzycha opted to give Wil Trapp his MLS debut after his recent participation in the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey.
Trapp was one of five players in the Crew's starting lineup (Chad Barson, Konrad Warzycha, Danny O'Rourke and Lampson) from central Ohio high schools.
Portland next plays at home Saturday against Los Angeles. The Crew are idle in MLS play until July 20 when they host New England, but they welcome FA Cup champion Wigan Athletic to Crew Stadium on Saturday for an international friendly.