PORTLAND, Ore. – In a matchup between two teams starved for goals and points, the Portland Timbers and Columbus Crew found both in short supply as they played to a scoreless draw Saturday night at Jeld-Wen Field.
While neither side will pop champagne over the result, it was a muted positive for the teams languishing at the wrong ends of their respective tables.
Portland had lost in five of their last six outings, while Columbus came into the game winless in their last four.
Both teams now have eight points from eight games. But neither team rectified their anemic offensive output.
The Timbers have now gone without a goal in three straight games. Their only tally in that span was an own-goal in a 1-0 win April 21 over Sporting Kansas City.
Columbus have just two goals in their last four games, both coming in a 2-2 tie against Houston on April 21.
In an effort to spice up the Timbers attack, head coach John Spencer fielded a surprising lineup that, most notably, moved captain and midfielder Jack Jewsbury to defense at right back.
It gave the Timbers a bit more bite early on. And the action was fast paced at times. But nine shots on goal between the two teams – six for Portland – still led to zeros.
It was Rodney Wallace who provided the biggest offensive spark for Portland. The normal outside defender, who was moved to a midfield wing, had three shots on goal, including a blast in the 20th minute that required a diving save from Columbus goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum.
The injury-depleted Crew nearly found the back of the net in the 27th minute when a long service from Nemanja Vukovic found Milovan Mirosevic in the box. Mirosevic’s chip shot bounced dangerously close to the line before Jewsbury headed it out over the net.
In the end, it was the goalkeepers and defense that won the day. Gruenebaum had six saves, including another diving effort off a Darlington Nagbe scorcher in the 83rd minute as Portland frantically pushed forward. Timbers ‘keeper Troy Perkins, sporting a face shield after suffering a boot to the nose last weekend against Montreal, was credited with one save.
The result sees the Timbers improve to 2-5-2. They’ll have next weekend off before traveling to Houston to face the Dynamo at newly opened BBVA Compass Stadium.
Columbus, meanwhile, improve to 2-4-2. They return home to face FC Dallas on May 12.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Andy Gruenebaum||Crew 'keeper was spectacular in keeping home team off board; huge stops on Wallace and Boyd.|
|2||Josh Williams||Young center back made presence felt in Chad Marshall's absence on both sides of the ball.|
|3||Troy Perkins||Masked man saved sure winner off Williams header deep in second half. Positioning was excellent.|