Saturday, December 27, 2014

Nowak rues missed opportunities in Union loss

The Union had plenty of chances to get at least one goal against the youthful Timbers; they also got lucky on a few occasions that they didn't give up more.

Nowak rues missed opportunities in Union loss

The Timbers Army celebrates after the final whistle of the Timbers' 1-0 win over the Union at Jeld-Wen Field last night. (Jonathan Tannenwald/Philly.com)

PORTLAND, Ore. - If I had offered you before the game the possibility that a Union squad with a starting back line of Michael Farfan, Carlos Valdés, Gabriel Farfan and Sheanon Williams would get out of Jeld-Wen Field with just a 1-0 loss, I suspect some of you would not have been too disappointed.

As often happens, though, the final score does not reflect all of what happened in the game.

The Union had plenty of chances to get at least one goal against the youthful Timbers; they also got lucky on a few occasions that they didn't give up more.

But on the whole, the tone set by Peter Nowak and his players after the game was one of wondering what could have been.

"I thought we were going to win the game," Nowak said. And even after Portland scored, Nowak continued to pile on the attacking pressure, deploying a three-forwald front line after Roger Torres and Jack McInerney came on as substitutes.

The big chance came in the 87th minute, when a loose ball that bounced around in the Portland box came to an open Sebastien Le Toux. But Le Toux could only shoot right at Timbers goalkeeper Troy Perkins, and the Union remained scoreless on the night.

"The situation Seba had, you've got to put that in," Nowak said. "Six yards out, you have to finish. I think that was the point lost."

As for Portland's attack, Nowak was not happy with what he perceived as theatrics from Portland's forwards.

"You could see after 20 minutes that they were trying everything to create free kicks and corner kicks out of nothing," Nowak said. "They couldn't break us down, and they just started flopping left and right to create some situation from free kicks that might lead to a goal."

Nowak also expressed his displeasure with referee Silviu Petrescu, especially over the hand ball call against Amobi Okugo that led to Portland's game-winning goal.

"The situation leading to the goal is another example of where the referee is behind, and there was no indication from the linesman - he just made a decision based on I don't know what," Nowak said. "I talked to Amobi, and he said there was no way it was a hand ball."

Timbers coach John Spencer admitted that his team struggled at times to break down the Union's defense, but he was satisfied with the Timbers' second consecutive 1-0 home win.

"I think they had that siege mentality," Spencer said. "I think they were trying to hold out for a tie, or maybe sneak a goal from a set piece."

The goal indeed came from a set piece, but it came for Spencer's team. If you were expecting a game similar to the Timbers' 4-2 win over Chicago in the team's home opener, what we saw last night was definitely the opposite.

You can read my game recap that ran in the Inquirer here, and my story for the Daily News here. Below, you'll find video highlights from the game, postgame quotes in audio form, and a video in which I take a look at how the Union's makeshift backline fared in the game. It includes exclusive interviews with Sheanon Williams and Amobi Okugo.

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Photos: Timbers 1, Union 0
 
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Jonathan Tannenwald Philly.com
About this blog
The Goalkeeper is your home for the latest news about the Philadelphia Union, Major League Soccer, U.S. national teams and the rest of the world's most popular sport. It's also a place for fans to gather and celebrate the culture of soccer and its unique place on the sports landscape.

Reach Jonathan at jtannenwald@phillynews.com or 215-854-2330.

Jonathan Tannenwald Philly.com
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