Recap: The Caleb Porter era opened up with a wild bang as the Portland Timbers and New York Red Bulls played a 3-3 draw in front of 20,674 on a dry March evening at Jeld-Wen Field. New York took advantage of a blunder from Timbers fullback Mikael Silvestre in the 9th minute after the much decorated fullback’s back pass to Donovan Ricketts went off the keeper’s hands right to the feet of Fabian Espindola who slotted it home. The Timbers answered in the 14th minute when Diego Valeri juggled his way past a pair of New York defenders and beat keeper Luis Robles. Another mistake from Silvestre in the 24th minute led to Espindola’s second goal of the match. New York took a 3-1 lead on a goal by Jamison Olave in the 28th minute. The Timbers fought back with a pair of second half goals. Darington Nagbe punched home a goal after Robles’ saved a hard shot from Valeri in the 56th minute. They got the equalizer in the 89th minute after a Jose Valencia shot deflected off a New York defender and past Robles.
What worked: After a monumentally bad start to the game and a poor overall first half, the Timbers continued to work, dictating the game in the second half. For a team that hasn’t had much fight when falling behind the past two seasons – this was the first time in 20 MLS games that they have come back from a two-goal deficit (yikes, that is a lot of two-goal deficits) – it was encouraging to see them claw back to get a point. Valeri was masterful running the show in the middle. The Timbers also displayed a fitness level that was superior to that of a New York’s.
What didn’t work: Caleb’s choice. You could not have scripted a worst start to a Timbers career than what we saw from Mikael Silvestre. The most experienced guy in green and gold looked like a rookie with deer eyes in the headlights. To his credit, he improved in the second half (couldn’t have been worse, could he?), but every time he was near the ball I was forced to pray to a multitude of gods whose very existence I question.
Choose the over: In three of four matches between the Portland Timbers and New York Red Bulls, the teams have combined for at least five goals. Defensive shape appeared to be an afterthought for both teams. By the by, the Timbers have not come away with a victory in any of those four matches.
Chose the over, part 2: For the third straight year, the Timbers scored at least three goals in their home opener.
Halftime Choice: After watching his jetlagged (rhumlagged?) aging center back play a stinker of a first half, I was very curious if Porter would yank Silvestre at halftime. Based on merit, it would have been a justifiable call. But with just rookie Dylan Tucker-Gangness on the bench and with an experienced player like Silvestre involved, Porter played it conservative and saved his subs. I thought sitting Silvestre would have provided a statement to the team that poor play won’t be tolerated, but obviously he didn’t make that decision. It will be interesting to see how things play out if Silvestre continues to struggle and if players like David Horst and Hayner Mosquera regain their fitness.
If I ran MP’s Twitter Account: 6 goals! Now THAT is soccer. Credit to GW, CP, & GW.
Did you notice?…
- Ricketts didn’t even begin to come off his line on that third New York goal. Watching him play and I can’t help think of the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz. He looks creaky and doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.
- Kalif Alhassan did an excellent job of setting up Valeri’s first goal. It is exciting to see the flashy Ghanaian starting to make the simple pass instead of always going for the spectacular. Now if only he would abandon his NFL field goal routine and put some shots on target.
- Darlington Nagbe is a completely right foot dominant player. He struggles any time he is forced to go left, which can be problematic for a guy being asking to play on the left wing.
- Porter’s system is such that a late game injection of attack involves replacing the right back. He does ask those outside guys to push awfully high.
- Jose Valencia is going to be an effective late game sub. His size and skills set are different enough from Ahassan’s that he can change things up.
- Will Johnson throw the water bottles off the pitch when Thierry Henry faked Alzheimer’s or some other such injury as part of New York’s second half stalling strategy.
- Will Johnson and Jamison Olave almost came to blows a couple of times, but in between barking the former Real Salt Lake teammates had some tender, laughing moments.
- Ryan Johnson was unbelievably open on that bicycle kick he attempted in the waning moments. For a team trying to protect a point, New York’s backline was in shambles by the end.
- Did the team miss Jack Jewsbury at all?
- MLS referees are already in mid-season form. Some things never change.
- In a chippy game, not a single misconduct was issued.
- The Timbers are ahead of Seattle in the table.
- The TIFO was fantabulous.
Final Thoughts: For all the talk of fight and spirit, the end result is a couple of points at home that were lost. The same mistakes we saw two weeks ago when the Timbers played San Jose were on display tonight. The backline’s weaknesses were a serious concern then and they remain a serious concern now. Can they be addressed with the current personnel or is this going to be a team that is going to need to score three goals a game all year? It is still early, of course, and the center back pairing needs time working together. It is a big positive that the Timbers were able to build the attack in a number of different ways.
Match Reports (I’ll link when I see them)
- Portland Timbers rally for 3-3 draw against New York [Oregonlive]
- Red Bulls drop two goal lead in 3-3 Timbers draw [Empire of Soccer]
- Caleb Porter post match press conference [YouTube]
- Photo Essay [Oregonlive]
- Video Highlights: Portland Timbers vs New York Red Bulls [MLS]
- Portland Timbers 3-3 New York Red Bulls: Thrilling opening draw [Goal]
- Recap: Portland Timbers fight back for 3-3 draw against New York in season opener [Portland Timbers]
- Red Bulls find plenty to work on after 3-3 draw with Portland Timbers [Soccer 365]
- Furious Second Half Fuels Timbers Tie [Portland Tribune]
- Second Half Collapse [Big Apple Soccer]
- Sharing is caring for New York Red Bulls and Portland Timbers [Aerys Sports]
- It never rains [Slide Rule Pass]
- 1 game, 1 point [The Axe]
- Match Report: Timbers Terrific Offense Erases Defensive Errors [Timbers Army]
- A Tales of Two Halves as Portland Draws New York [Timberlandia]
- Timbers rally from 2 down for 3-3 draw [Soccer City USA]
- Portland Timbers players evaluations versus New York Red Bulls [Oregonlive Fan Blog]
- Timbers Rally to Tie Red Bulls 3-3 [The Columbian]
- For openers, Timbers deliver spills, then thrills [The Columbian]