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Match Report: Philadelphia Union 0-0 Portland Timbers

The Portland Timbers came into Chester and ground out a 0-0 draw with a frustrated Philadelphia Union team on Saturday night.

With the draw, the Union still have not won since beating New England on July 17. After storming back to grab a point in Wednesday night’s 4-4 draw, they will be disappointed with only one point from a game where three were definitely there for the taking.

Few chances in the first half

Peter Nowak started a more attack-minded line up against the Timbers than in the previous match against New England. Stefani Miglioranzi was dropped in favor of Danny Mwanga, who partnered Veljko Paunovic up top while Freddy Adu and Roger Torres were both given their second straight starts in the midfield. After a disappointing game on Wednesday night, Gabriel Farfan was dropped in favor of his twin brother Michael.

Philadelphia controlled possession early and it was Michael Farfan who was able to create some early chances from the left wing. On just five minutes, he dominated a one-on-one battle against Mike Chabala before getting a cross into the box which was cleared from inside the six.

Sebastien Le Toux had the best chance of the first half when Roger Torres spotted the Frenchman cutting through the box from the left side. Torres’ soft chip to the penalty spot landed right on Le Toux’s chest, where he was able to take the ball down on the run, only to drag his right footed shot just wide of the far post. It was a difficult chance, but Le Toux, who has battled back toward his goalscoring form of last season in the last few games, will be disappointed not to have even troubled Troy Perkins in goal.

Portland settled into the game after conceding possession for much of the opening 20 minutes. They found some success attacking Farfan’s left wing, with the speedy Sal Zizzo getting beyond the defender and looking to serve balls into the box. As the half wound down, Zizzo was twice able to get the best of Farfan and deliver a cross, with MacMath coming to claim the first and the other hitting the side netting.

Portland’s best chance of the half fell to Jorge Perlaza just before the stroke of half time. The striker picked up the ball 35 yards from the Union goal, took Carlos Valdes on wide in the 18-yard box and hit his shot low from about 8 yards. MacMath was quick off his line with Valdes beaten and was able to kick away the effort. It was a confidence building save for the young goalkeeper going into the second 45.

Both teams miss chances to grab all three points

Portland started the second half brightly and quickly found a great opportunity to open the scoring. Again it was the speedy Zizzo careening down the right wing on the counterattack. A ball over the top found the midfielder, who was one-on-one with the onrushing MacMath. Zizzo beat MacMath to the ball, pushing it wide of the keeper, but his square ball through the box only found the feet of the retreating Sheanon Williams, who was able to clear.

Nowak went looking for the winner, bringing on Justin Mapp and Jack McInerney in quick succession with close to 30 minutes left to play. While Mapp brought his mazy dribbles both down the sideline and through the middle of the park, McInerney was largely invisible, struggling to find space to run with Mwanga, Le Toux, and Paunovic all still on the field in advanced roles.

Portland was almost able to steal the game when an uncharacteristic Brian Carroll mistake gave the Timbers a chance to break on the counterattack with only five minutes of regular time remaining. Carroll’s poor first touch just inside the Portland half was picked off by Diego Chara who quickly broke the other way. He found a streaking Kenny Cooper off to the right and his pass put the striker clean through on goal. MacMath was quick off his line and forced Cooper to take his shot early and the chance went begging as the striker could only push the ball wide left of the Union goal.

The best chance of the game fell to late substitution Kyle Nakazawa three minutes later. After another of mazy run, Justin Mapp found himself on the edge of the box to the right of Perkins goal. His square ball along the ground was met cleanly by Nakazawa, but the midfielders strike rang squarely off the crossbar with Perkins well beaten. Nakazawa reached his hands over his head in sheer frustration, while much of PPL Park did the same.

Philadelphia will look to rebound when they welcome Columbus to PPL Park next Saturday in a match-up of two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. With only seven games remaining, the Union must get back on the winning track to secure a playoff berth in just their second season.


  1. We have near the perfect lineup. All that is left to fix is Pauno. He was slow and did not offer us anything. Replace him with Jack Mac and we have my perfect lineup.

    • Jack Mac sucked today. And your perfect lineup needs to always include keon daniel. because keon daniel is the man.

      Having said that, I think Michael Farfan is just awful at defense. I love him and actually would start him over Torres on the wing with Adu central, but Gabe just does a better job of defending (albeit not a great one).

      Still can’t believe we only got 2 points from New England and Portland at home. Shameful.

      And big up yourself Zac. Great game in goal tonight. The future is bright.

      • Yeah he was not good as a sub but I still want him starting over Pauno. Pauno is slow (him getting beat to that ball in the corner when he had a 10 step advantage was pathetic) he can’t finish, but most importantly he drifts around way too often to be our second striker. He likes to be delivering the finial ball instead of being on the end of it.
        Actually, lets put Le Toux back at striker and put Daniel on the wing in his place. That’ll work too.

      • Le Toux back at striker and Daniel on the wing. Sounds like the right lineup to me.

  2. I agree with Andrew. MFarfan has some great offensive skills but every time a long pass was played to his side of the field he was out of position or took the wrong angle on the play. I actually think GFarfan is a better defender (but not by much).

  3. Santas Grotto says:

    As i have said on here before the trade of Harvey without a plan to replace him was irresponsible. You cant ask someone to become a left back within the heat of the season. The poor positioning and lack of feel for dangerous situations imbalances the whole back line. A clean sheet last night only papers over the issues. BTW how good is Valdes? Unbelievable performance again. He folded Kenny Cooper up and stuffed him in his back pocket.

  4. Don’t think we got one headball in the offensive penalty area. Also think Nwanga was terrible all night except for maybe one of two instances. He heading is almost nonexistent and he has a hard time shielding the ball.

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