By: Aeden Evenson-McDermott
On the road in Portland the Loons addressed a few injury and suspension blips by testing out a new formation. United is known for their 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1 formations. This time the new changes consisted of a 3-5-2 formation. They came out strong and looked like they would be on the front foot but unfortunately they didn’t come away with any points.
They maintained dominant possession and held Portland for the main course of the first 45 minutes. Having crosses and plenty of shots, and with 13 shots just in the first half, it left the Loons asking for more. Newly arrived Colombian striker Ménder García had some good quality chances but none could hit the back of the net.
On the backside of the field, the trio of Lawrence, Kallman, and Boxall allowed for a tight collective defense which prevented Portland from getting shots on goal. With the momentum in this game, it would be important to capitalize on your own chances and it was especially critical since the Loons had maintained more of a dominant presence against Portland. It’s fair to say that United’s coach Adrian Heath would be more pleased with their performance than Portland’s coach Giovanni Savarese at the halftime break.
Following halftime, Portland came out stronger than the first half but never posed much of a threat to the Loons’s shape and positioning. Anything can happen in a game, and when the 61st minute rolled around, disaster struck for the Loons.
Portland received a corner and on the kick, a high whipped in ball fell right to Portland’s Dairon Asprilla and was put through the Loon’s back line and into the net. 1-0 to Portland.
As the game went on, the Loons had trouble recovering their shape and found themselves a bit lackluster and tired out. With around 30 minutes left in regulation, the Loons had a few glorious chances but none that they were able to fully capitalize on.
Overall, the new formation worked fairly well as García and Amarilla posed threats up top in the attacking third. The midfield composition worked hard and helped with creating space. There were definitely many positives to take away from an overall good game but hard to accept defeat for the third time in 3 games straight.
The Loons went down to 6th place in the playoff race but will have plenty of work to do with the remaining four games of the season.