Pamplin Media Group – Portland Timbers lose 2-1 in Miami

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Bill Tuiloma scores again, but the Timbers’ struggles continue with Saturday’s loss to South Florida.

An urgent late push wasn’t enough for the Portland Timbers to get a result on Saturday in a Major League Soccer game against Inter Miami CF in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Despite another goal from defenseman Bill Tuiloma, Portland lost 2-1 and has just three wins in 15 games on the season.

Rating

Miami, 27th minute — Leonardo Campana heads home with a close-range cross delivered from a touch by Christopher McVey, who was sent into free space behind Josecarlos Van Rankin on the left side by a smoothed pass from Bryce Duke. 1-0 InterMiami.

Miami, 59th minute — After a sloppy play from the attacking side of midfield led to a Miami counterattack, Robert Taylor slotted home a chance for a rebound. A Campana shot caught the right post and bounced directly into Taylor’s path. 2-0 InterMiami.

Timbers, 78th minute — Bill Tuiloma scores with a diving header. On a corner quickly taken by Cristhian Paredes, Santiago Moreno sent a cross that Tuiloma directed towards the house. Fellow defender Larrys Mabiala also looked in position to score on the play. 2-1 Inter Miami.

Big picture –Fifteen games into their MLS schedule, the Timbers have three wins and sit 10th in the Western Conference with 15 points (3-6-6). Coach Giovanni Savarese mentioned improving confidence/belief and playing with more consistent urgency as things he will need from his side when they resume the season on June 18 after a break international.

It’s fair to mention that Portland haven’t had many breaks so far this season. The 90th-minute chance that Paredes smashes the post sort of sums up how things have been for three months.

But the coach’s most prominent comment in his post-game chat with the media was that Felipe Mora, Jaroslaw Niezgoda and Claudio Bravo are among the injured Timbers who should be ready to contribute once things pick up (with the caveat that it will take Mora, above all, time to get up to full efficiency). Savarese didn’t mention Eryk Williamson in that specific comment, but Williamso is also expected to return sooner rather than later.

“Little by little, I think we’ll get stronger again with the guys we’re going to get back,” Savarese said.

In addition to the long list of injured, the Timbers played Saturday without captain Diego Chara (accumulation of yellow cards). Paredes and David Ayala started in midfield in what began as a 4-3-3 formation with Yimmi Chara also in midfield and Nathan Fogaca flanked by Dairon Asprilla and Marvin Loria. Midway through the first half, Loria dug deeper into midfield, shifting the formation to a 4-4-2 to help counter Miami’s efforts to exploit the gaps.

It wasn’t until Savarese inserted Sebastian Blanco, Moreno and Tuiloma in the 66th minute and changed to a 3-5-2 formation that the Timbers began to play with the kind of purpose and urgency needed to create the ‘offensive.

I look blue — At the weekend, MLS teams sported recycled plastic uniforms, the Timbers’ purplish-blue kits looked sharp. And, at least on TV, they stood out next to the pale/peach kits worn by Miami.

Form of Tuiloma —Centre-back/defensive midfielder Tuiloma now leads the club with five goals this season. He is tied for first in MLS with four headed goals. Tuiloma now joins the New Zealand national team, which will play a match on June 14 in Qatar against Costa Rica for a place in this fall’s World Cup.

Break needed — Saturday’s game was the sixth in 22 days for the Timbers, a streak that included two trips across the country. With the June international break here, the club now have 20 days before returning to play – hopefully with a healthier squad and a more positive outlook.

Reaction

• Savarese said part of the team’s struggle so far this season has been the loss of confidence due to the long list of injuries and a few unlucky rebounds. “A collective of things that get you to a point where we’re starting to doubt some of our beliefs. At least I saw a group in the second half that believed that we could have come back into this game. And that’ is the kind of team we want to see more of on a constant basis.”

Next Timbers game —Portland at LA Galaxy, 2 p.m. Saturday, June 18 (ESPN).


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