Before Sunday, every LAFC match featured a goal. Goalkeeper Tyler Miller did his part to change that Sunday, making highlight-reel stops as 10-man LAFC played to a scoreless draw against the Portland Timbers at Banc of California Stadium.
Miller’s heroics were on display within the first five minutes, when Benny Feilhaber lost the ball to Diego Valeri 18 yards in front of the LAFC net. Valeri had only Miller to beat, but the goalkeeper got a fingertip on Valeri’s low shot and pushed it around the post.
“Those are the emotional plays that can really change the game,” Miller said. “I wasn’t happy with how much time Benny spent on the ball, but that’s just part of the game. The guys have bailed me out this year and I was there to bail them out.”
Miller had other first-half highlights, stopping a powerful shot from Alvas Powell and diving to snag a long-range shot from Sebastian Blanco.
LAFC’s best chance came in the 31st minute, when Joao Moutinho scooped a pass over the Timbers defense and into the path of Adama Diomande.
Diomande, who had scored nine goals in 473 minutes before Sunday’s game, volleyed from an angle, but goalkeeper Jeff Attinella reached out and deflected the ball onto the crossbar, denying Moutinho a memorable assist.
The Timbers came close to scoring in the opening five minutes of the second half as well. Valeri slid a pass through to Samuel Armenteros in space on the left side of LAFC’s box. Unlike Valeri’s first-half chance, Armenteros’ shot flew past Miller, but too far past the goalkeeper as it struck the post.
Through much of the second half, chances were sparse. LAFC controlled possession but had few real looks at goal. That changed in the 85th minute, when Blanco’s attempt to start a counterattack was stopped by a Lee Nguyen foul deep within the Timbers half. Nguyen was sent off, a decision that drew boos from LAFC fans.
The Timbers looked to take advantage of the extra man in the few remaining minutes, as Armenteros and Valeri exchanged a series of touches on the edge of the box that cut through LAFC’s defense. Miller again put a stop to it, snatching the ball near Valeri’s feet before he could get a shot off.
LAFC had a stoppage-time chance via a Carlos Vela header, but it was hit directly at Attinella and the game finished without a goal. LAFC coach Bob Bradley said the Timbers’ defensive formation was hard to break down.
“I thought that we did a lot of good things. They’re a team that’s dangerous in transition. We did a solid job of dealing with that,” Bradley said. “When a team defends with five in the back and three midfielders tucked in front, finding space is hard. Our ideas on what we tried to do were good. In the end we weren’t able to be good enough in the moments that count.”
The teams will meet again Wednesday in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.