TFC 3-2 Portland: Guts and Glory
Wow, what a comeback !! 2-0 down at half time, and with another terrible referee on display, TFC seemed down and out ….. but dont tell that to Nick Hagglund who got his first and second senior goals to tie the game nor to Michael Bradley whose floated free kick floated past everyone including Donovan Ricketts for the game winner.
But first a word of well wishes to Will Johnson who broke his right tibia & fibula in a 50-50 challenge with Mark Bloom just 15 seconds into the game. The Timbers Captain knew how serious it was immediately and motioned to the bench almost as soon as he hit the deck.
The game was held up for a full 7 minutes before he was stretchered off the park to resounding applause from both the TFC faithful and the small but hardy band of Portland fans who had made the trek to this game (or perhaps live on this side of the continent).
The incident can be seen on the game in six video below and we have to say the “guts” in the article title applies equally to Johnson as it does to TFC in their second half comeback, perhaps moreso considering he was taken straight to hospital for surgery. A season ending injury for sure, but lets hope its not a career ending one not only for Johnson himself but also for Canada and for Portland who both want to see him back in their respective colours real soon.
It was a subdued (re-)start to the game after Johnson’s injury. The clock showed 8 minutes but in reality it was only 15 seconds old. If TFC had hoped that the Portland heads would go down after suffering such a serious blow to their gameplan, they could think again. Although the official time of the first goal was 13 minutes, when you factor in the 7 minute delay it was really only 6 minutes in …. and the second would follow just three minutes later so down two goals in the first 10 (unofficial) minutes !! Thats so TFC !
The first was a really bad error from Nick Hagglund who tried to clear the ball out of defence only to hit Diego Chara with the rebound then falling nicely to Fanendo Adi who had a simple shot to take the lead. The second, just three minutes later came as the result of a corner. The initial ball cleared by TFC was sent back in by Chara and Valeri attempted a low drive towards goal. Whether it was a shot or an an attempted cross to Fanendo Adi who was miles offside is perhaps a moot point as Caldwell’s attempted clearance found the back of the net.
Just 4 minutes later TFC grabbed one back, or appeared to, and it was Caldwell making amends for his earlier error with a powerful header that found the back of the net but unlike Adi at the other end this time TFC were judged offside. When Oduro twisted his marker inside and out on the half hour mark and sent the ball across to Gilberto who shot agonisingly wide, and then Kah hit his own post with an attempted clearance you just felt that this was going to be one of those days (again).
Into the second half then and TFC had a simple task. score three goals. Mission accepted it would seem and the architect of the comeback would be an unlikely one, rookie Nick Hagglund, a good first year defender and an excellent header of the ball would use those skills at the other end of the park and score his first and second senior career goals to level the game by the 70th minute. What a day for the young guy, and the momentum certainly swung massively in TFC’s favour after that. 20 minutes into the game the feeling from the stands was ‘here we go again’, with 20 minutes to go it was ‘holy s*** we can do this’. Both teams had chances to score the winner and we all knew if it was Portland it was likely to be Max Urutti who would score to rub salt into the wounds … but no it was TFC who would have the last word courtesy of a surreal Michael Bradley goal. The general setup to float a cross into the box in the 89th minute and you can only imagine that Ricketts must have been expecting one of Caldwell, Hagglund or DeRosario to get on the end of it but no-one did and the ball went straight into the net. Cue massive celebrations in the stands and from the players ! As comebacks go, this one was the biggest since Lazarus !!! (thanks to Sid Waddell for that one) . This may well be the game that defines TFC’s season. It was certainly one of the most enjoyable roller coasters I have ever been on !!!
Gallery for this game: HERE
Game in 6