Timbers draw CD Marathón 2-2 in first leg of CCL Round of 16

by Kevin Nesgoda

The Portland Timbers weren’t expecting a normal match in Honduras today, and they certainly didn’t get one.

With a muggy pitch and restricted pace, Portland struggled to find finishing luck in the Marathón box. Goals from Mora and Valeri were highlights for the Timbers, but both were met with Honduran equalizers.

Portland got out to a hot start in San Pedro Sula, but the pitch was a huge detriment to their quick-paced combination play. The Timbers still found success playing throughballs in behind and winning the ball back in the midfield.

A pair of early chances went begging for the Timbers as they tried to acclimate themselves to the horrid pitch conditions. Ground passes farther than 10 yards were virtually out of the question.

Valeri and Yimmi Chará were effective on the right side, with Valeri tucking into the space between midfielders and the back line. He had a decent shot in the 20th minute that skipped up on him and sailed over.

Eryk Williamson had the best chance of the first 30 minutes, flicking the ball over his defender and forcing a great save from Denovan Torrez.

Felipe Mora broke the deadlock in the 34th minute after getting a ball from Josecarlos Van Rankin. Portland’s first goal of the 2021 season included the first assist for Van Rankin in his first start.

Van Rankin’s glory would be short-lived, though. It wasn’t five minutes later before Marathón’s Edwin Solano burst down the left side and beat Van Rankin much too easily. His cross found a wide open Brayan Castillo in the box for a tap-in. 1-1.

Marathón came dangerously close to taking the lead in the 44th minute, as Kevin Hoyos bodied Van Rankin into getting a shot off way too close to Clark’s goal. The shot was blocked and saved by Clark, but it was a very shaky moment nonetheless.

The second half was a much rougher start for the Timbers. Clark was forced into a double-save in the 53’ after the back line left Mathias Techera wide open to get his head on a free kick.

Yimmi Chará missed another chance to score in the 56’, with a beautiful set-piece play finding him in open space in the box. His shot left much to be desired, though, and it was saved well.

Then Diego Valeri did a Diego Valeri thing.

While it’ll go down as an own goal, Valeri couldn’t hold back a smile after this other-worldly strike. With a pair of away goals, the Timbers had a lot to be happy about in Honduras.

That is, until Portland gave up another goal. This one was much worse, as Marlon Ramírez took three touches before slotting the ball past Clark on the fourth. The xG on that shot must be pretty pretty low.

Clark produced another huge save in the 82’ from a Techera header. The towering center back leaped high enough to beat Marvin Loría to the ball, and the result was almost disastrous.

Portland grabbed the lion’s share of possession late in the match, but weren’t able to do much with it. Mora had another chance in the box but couldn’t spot his teammate quick enough to make the flick.

Asprilla had a chance of his own right as we entered stoppage time, but his shot left much to be desired. A 2-2 result with away goals as a tiebreaker is a good one, but fans won’t help but think that it could have been much better.

Portland will be back home next Tuesday for the reverse fixture.

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