Chara scores on a bicycle shot, Timbers equalize Revs 2-2 in opener

Yimmi Chara scored on a 78th-minute bicycle kick to lead the Portland Timbers to a 2-2 draw with the New England Revolution in Major League Soccer’s opener for both teams on Saturday.

Dairon Asprilla also scored for the Timbers to help prevent the Revolution from earning their first win at Providence Park.

New England got goals from Brandon Bye and newcomer Sebastian Lletget, traded to New England by the LA Galaxy in the offseason.

Revolution manager Bruce Arena tied with the late Sigi Schmid for the most regular season wins in MLS with 240. Arena was the MLS Manager of the Year last season.

New England are the defending winners of the Supporters Shield after amassing an MLS record 73 points last season. The Revs were knocked out of the playoffs in the Eastern Conference semi-finals by eventual MLS Cup champion New York City FC.

The Timbers qualified for the league game last season but lost at home to NYCFC in a penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw. Ahead of the opener on Saturday, the 2021 Western Conference championship banner was unveiled in the rafters at Providence Park.

Bye’s header from a corner hit the crossbar and fell into the goal in the 41st minute to give the Revolution a 1-0 lead.

Asprilla had a chance in the opening moments of the second half, but the hard-hit ball sailed straight into the arms of New England goalkeeper Earl Edwards Jr.

There was some controversy when it emerged that Portland’s Santiago Moreno had been tripped in the box in the 53rd minute. But Asprilla scored in the 61st to tie it at 1.

Lletget responded with a goal a minute later and the Revolution regained the lead. Chara appeared to tie it again at 63rd but was offside.

Chara broke through with his superb goal in the 78th.

In addition to Lletget, the Revolution’s roster includes 2021 MLS MVP Carles Gil, as well as new additions Jozy Altidore and Omar Gonzalez. Gil, Lletget and Gonzalez started with Altidore available on the bench.

Longtime Portland captain Diego Valeri left the Timbers in the offseason to return to his boyhood club Lanus in Argentina.

The Timbers Army supporters group, known for their large coordinated displays called tifos, announced a break from tradition and did not have a tifo for the season opener. Instead, the group donated to charities that support victims of domestic violence.

The Timbers have come under fire for their handling of domestic abuse allegations against former midfielder Andy Polo. The team fired him earlier this month after details of a police call to his home in May 2021 emerged. Polo’s contract had been extended in December, leading many fans to wonder why he was held back. The league hired an outside firm to investigate.

There was a banner in Providence Park that included the number for the National Domestic Violence Hotline. A few fans also gave up Ukrainian flags to support that nation as it defends against an invasion from Russia, and a moment of silence was observed for Ukraine ahead of the game.

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