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End of the Road: Toronto FC Fall to Portland Timbers in Final Game of Road Trip

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Toronto FC was unable to claw out a point in Portland to end what was an otherwise successful season-opening road trip.

Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

That's the way of the road, as they say. Toronto FC battled hard, but ultimately fell 2-1 to the Portland Timber in their final game of an eight-game road trip to start the 2016 MLS season.

Diego Valeri dealt the final blow: a looping free kick in the 74th minute that gave his side the victory. It was just the second time this year that the club has allowed a second-half goal.

Toronto's backline, which has been one of the league's best so far this season, was unlocked early by Portland. Valeri was the architect for a goal by Fanendo Adi that gave the Timbers the lead just 17 minutes into the match.

Portland was able to expose the flaw in Toronto's 4-4-2 formation: width in the midfield. Lucas Melano, in particular, was a thorn in Toronto FC's side as he made several dangerous runs down the flanks.

Will Johnson was able to fix Toronto FC's early mistake, however, when he tied the match in the fortieth minute. It was his first goal in a Toronto FC uniform and came against the side that he used to captain. But it was all that the Toronto attack could muster on this occasion.

The club's attack struggled to compensate for an injured Jonathan Osorio. Tsubasa Endoh had some good moments of play filling in for the Canadian, but for the most part was invisible in his just his fourth MLS match.

Despite a strong run of recent form, Jozy Altidore was much the same. Besides a well-saved header late in the match, one that he really should have scored on, the American striker created very little in front of goal.

Even the atomic ant, Sebastian Giovinco, looked off today. He still managed an assist, albeit partially credited to the Portland defender that left him sprawling on the group before Johnson picked up the pieces.

He took exception to the Portland defence's tough treatment, yelling a the referee on several occasions. It is a concerning part of Giovinco's game: when things don't go his way, which admittedly isn't very often, he tends to have a short fuse.

However, it is fairly hard to criticise a player of his calibre too much, just as it is hard to be too negative about yet another decent road performance from Toronto FC. If it wasn't for Portland goalkeeper Jake Gleeson, Toronto FC would have likely escaped with at least a point.

Gleeson absolutely robbed Johnson, Michael Bradley, Drew Moor and Altidore to preserve all three points for his side. It was a spirited goaltending performance, and one that will almost certainly give New Zealand international a place in MLS's team of the week.

Despite the loss, Toronto FC can hold their heads up high as they return home for their first game at BMO Field next weekend. The club collected 11 points from 8 road games. More importantly, they showed a clear identity and defensive shape that they did not possess last season.

The club was never outmatched during the road swing, and all of their losses could have easily gone the other way. While this is a positive in many ways, it is also why the team won't be completely content. They had a great road trip, but they could have had more.