Portland Timbers 0 : 1 Cal FC (aet)
by Michael Orr
Portland Timbers became the eighth MLS team to suffer elimination to a lower league side after a 0-1 home loss to fifth tier CalFC. Former RSL player Artur Aghasyan scored the decisive goal in first half of extra time.
“I don’t remember anything, I just know that I chipped it,” said Aghasyan, beaming as he tried to recount his famous goal for Cal FC.
For the home side, Kris Boyd skied a penalty over the cross bar in the second half of normal time.
The California-based amateur side, coached by Eric Wynalda, are unlikely to ever forget what transpired at Jeld-Wen Field on Wednesday night, May 30, 2012. Though it took 120 minutes and withstanding forty-three Portland Timbers shots, Cal FC emerged with a 1-0 victory and advanced to the fourth round of the US Open Cup next week.
Perhaps the signs were available early as Jesus Gonzalez forced a fingertip save from Troy Perkins in the 6th minute. Yet it was the Timbers who were the aggressors in the early going, clearly trying to create a comfortable space on the shore sheet. Pressing in defense and sending in myriad crosses, Portland certainly hassled Cal FC, but not enough to actually find that ever-elusive goal.
Meanwhile, Cal tried to play its game.
“We love to categorize ourselves as a possession team. Which probably wasn’t the case tonight,” explained Wynalda afterward.
As the young visitors tried to find time and space, the Timbers continued their assault on goalkeeper Darby Carrillo. Kalif Alhassan, Brent Richards (twice) and Jorge Perlaza each missed shots or had them saved in a seven minute stretch after the hour. When Cal did finally break toward goal, in a fantastic interplay between Danny Barrera and Richard Manjivar, the former made one too many passes, seemingly taking Wynalda’s possession style a bit too far.
Portland’s misses got worse as the second half dragged on, each bringing more exasperated groans from the crowd of just over five thousand. Finally, the Timbers got a stroke of luck when Manjivar handled a Richards cross in the box, setting up a Kris Boyd penalty in the 80th minute. Which is precisely when the game turned on its head.
The Scottish Premier League’s all-time leading scorer, skied his spot kick, dropped his head and walked away from the North End amid a cascade of boos. Said Wynalda, “I was already thinking it wasn’t their night. But you don’t see that every day, a player like Kris Boyd missing a penalty kick.” Several late chances went begging for Portland and the two weary sides entered overtime.
Boyd subbed off after an injury and the Timbers shifted players to accommodate the final available change. With cramps setting in, and the team constantly rotating players to keep all eleven players as spry as possible, Cal FC seemed on the verge of simply wearing out before all 120 minutes were done. Then the impossible happened.
In the 95th minute, Aghasyan streaked down the middle of the field, easily beating a lopsided offside trap, collected a well placed through ball and calmly chipped Perkins. As his teammates mobbed him in the northeast corner of the stadium, the crowd fell silent – a rarity in a ground known for its boisterous atmosphere. While the pause was only momentary, the gravity of the goal was clear.
As the first period of overtime ended and the second began, Portland furiously poured players forward in search of an equalizer. Freddie Braun, Jack Jewsbury, Perlaza, Alhassan and Richards all had clear chances to beat Carrillo, yet none could do better than send the ball directly into the goalkeeper’s waiting gloves. Carrillo’s save on Perlaza’s 109th minute header was his best of a night filled with close calls.
With Portland nearing a calamitous result, Cal FC poked the ball clear for several counter attacks late in the second overtime. Paulo Ferreira-Mendez’s header beat Perkins but also – barely – the left post in the 110th. Aghasyan then nearly added a second goal when his shot skimmed the crossbar from an acute angle in the 114th.
After Perlaza put one into the side netting, Darlington Nagbe curled a shot just wide of the right post and Alhassan sent one more soft cross into the box, Cal FC needed just one more stop to escape with the upset. Referee William Niccolls inexplicably allowed a bloody Jewsbury to received treatment and a change of shirt before Portland’s final attempt, a corner in the 120th minute. The amateurs cleared the ball, Niccolls blew his whistle and Cal FC left the field with one of the biggest upsets in US Open Cup history.
“One thing we should be very proud of is that Portland brought their team. That was their guys…Once we saw the line-up, everything settled in for our guys. This is what we wanted,” Wynalda added.
Indeed, the starting XI for the Timbers was the best possible line-up, given several injuries and absences due to international duty.
That will make the loss linger even longer in Portland as the Timbers miss out on a chance to host rivals Seattle Sounders in the fourth round and will have eighteen days without a game to figure out how exactly they lost at home to Cal FC.
Editorial: The internet heats up but just how bad are things in Portland?
Match Report: Sounders 5-1 Atlanta — Not tonight, NASL
POR: GK Perkins, D Jewsbury ©, D Mosquera, D Horst, D Smith (Braun, 46), M Alhassan, M Chara, M Nagbe, M Alexander (Richards, 65), F Perlaza, F Boyd (Kawulok, 90)
Substitutes Not Used: GK Bendik, D Jean-Baptiste, D Taylor, F Rincón
TOTAL SHOTS: 37 (Jewsbury, 8); SHOTS ON GOAL: 15 (Alhassan, Boyd, 3); FOULS: 8 (Mosquera, 4); OFFSIDES: 1; CORNER KICKS: 11; SAVES: 2
CAL: GK Carrillo, D Gonzalez, D Navarro, D Randolph, D Espinosa, M Manjivar, M Arreola (Rivera, 52), M Cruz (Ferreira, Pa., 72), M Barrera, Di. (Caceres, 52), F Barrera, Da., F Aghasyan
Substitutes Not Used: GK King, D Rocha, D Warring, M Ferreira, Pe.
TOTAL SHOTS: 8 (Barrera, Da., Ferrreira, Pa., Manjivar, 2); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (Gonzalez, Aghasyan, Barrera, Da., 1); FOULS: 9 (Rivera, 3); OFFSIDES: 4; CORNER KICKS: 3; SAVES: 15