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Early red card helps Columbus hand Portland first loss since March

Jul 7, 2013, 9:07 PM EDT

Justin Meram, Andrew Jean-Baptiste AP

The lost potential for 19-in-a-row should make Portland appreciate what it took for 2010’s FC Dallas to get to that mark. After an early goal from a corner kick and a Pa-Modou Kah red card, Columbus was up a goal and a man after 11 minutes, advantages that persisted as full-time blew on the Crew’s 1-0, streak-ending win.

For much of the match, despite Columbus’s man advantage, Portland looked like their typical selves, their ball-hogging ways allowing them to keep 55.8% percent of possession. But as is often the case with Caleb Porter’s Timbers, that advantage didn’t necessarily translate into shots on goal, with Columbus putting four on Donovan Ricketts to Portland’s one test of Matt Lampson.

By match’s end, after Porter went to three at the back, Columbus looked likely to counter attack their way to a second goal, with the final whistle calling time on a game the Crew were going to decide one way or another. The longer the match went, the more fatigued Portland’s out-manned team looked, the more space Federico Higuaín had to play balls through Portland’s stretched defense.

Ultimately, it was a game that was never going to go Portland’s way. On another day, they may have been able to find an equalizer to Bernardo Anor’s opener, or Higuaín’s missed penalty after Kah’s red card may have given them a second life. But between the opening goal, the lost man, and the absences of Will Johnson and Frédéric Piquionne, the deck as stacked against the Timbers in this one.

Porter’s second loss as a professional coach ends Portland’s unbeaten run at 15, reminding us how difficult it must have been to go unbeaten since early March, let alone potentially stretch that streak to 19. Not only do you have to be very good and incredibly consistent, but because of the thin margin of error in professional soccer, sometimes you have to be mistake free. One mis-step from a defender – an errant boot trying to make up for getting beat on a misread bounce – and your streak is toast.

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  1. lunasceiling - Jul 8, 2013 at 1:59 AM

    The positive takeaway for Portland is that they had every opportunity to equalize, despite being down a man. How often is Valeri going to miss a gimme from ten yards out? The Crew did indeed get more on-frame, but I think Portland had more legit chances. They just kept skying them…

    Stupid as that foul was, I don’t think it remotely deserved the straight red (ref went directly to the red on that…he never displayed a second yellow).

    • perrinbar - Jul 8, 2013 at 11:55 AM

      What? He kicked the dude flush in the face. Accident or no, I’d say that deserves a red.

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