The afternoon started with the Timbers on the road at Colorado. The Rapids were missing several key players with injuries and suspensions and had just one point, with a 0-3-1 record. Although the Timbers had been outscored 9-1 in their three prior visits this was a good opportunity for them to earn a win on the road.
The way they played in the first half, Portland wasn't nearly good enough to win the game. The goal they gave up was an excellent long-distance strike from Dillon Powers in the 18th minute. There was some luck and he placed the shot well, but Jack Jewsbury could have closed him down and goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts could have moved back to get a better angle on the shot. Even if they hadn't conceded the Timbers weren't very dangerous at all to start the game. They appeared more disorganized in the midfield than they had before. There was almost no link to the forwards and thus no great scoring chances to speak of in the first half.
Portland's chances at a positive result took a near-fatal blow just three minutes into the second half when Diego Chara tripped Tony Cascio in the penalty area. It didn't look like a good call at first but the replay shows it probably was. Hendry Thomas made the penalty for a 2-0 Rapids lead.
Once the pressure was truly on the Timbers refocused on getting a quick goal. At the 55 minute mark the Timbers finally broke through what was not a very good Colorado defense. Ryan Johnson found Will Johnson about 10 yards out for a header inside the near post. Portland would have a little over half an hour to tie the game. In the 71st minute they finally would when David Horst was knocked down going after a corner kick and Will Johnson scored on the penalty kick for his second goal of the game. The Timbers had come back from two goals down to earn a point, so in that sense it was a very good effort. But they should have done better and beaten a weak opponent. Their games in the month of April are going to be very tough and they'll need to improve to beat any of the teams they'll face.
Later that night the Portland Thorns made their debut in a preseason match against the University of Portland Pilots. The Thorns were missing four of their top players as the US and Canadian national team members were away preparing for international matches. Still, a capacity crowd at Merlo Field saw the Thorns come from behind to win 2-1.
What I found encouraging from reading impressions of the game was that the Pilots were not completely overmatched against the professionals. In fact many people were impressed by the Pilot defense and how they were able to absorb the pressure from the Thorns. If they can play this well against the Thorns I think the Pilots are in for a very good season this fall. They return all but two players from last year and are bringing in a highly rated class of recruits, so I'm excited and can't wait until the season starts August 23.