1. What’s that expression about pissing on table tops?
At the halfway point in the 2013 MLS campaign, the Portland Timbers find themselves tied at the top of the table, a position that exactly no one before the season predicted they would be in. On Sunday, they dispensed of the Colorado Rapids 3-0. In the process they extended their unbeaten run in league play to 15 games, took over the league lead in the goal scoring department, and added to Donovan Ricketts’ log cabin retirement fund. It would be believable if it weren’t so unbelievable. It was another impressive performance from a team that is leaving writers to look deep in their thesauruses for new superlatives to describe what they are seeing.
2. Jump start quick start
If you were to only watch the first 10 minutes of the match, you would not have come away so impressed with the Timbers. Colorado was buzzing around the goal and the Timbers looked like a side with legs heavy from 4 games in 10 days or whatever it has been. Even getting the ball back into play on throw-ins seemed like a labor. And then it happened. There was a Colorado foul and before you could blink and before the Rapids could get their back line set, Will Johnson did a simple, yet elegant, restart to Rodney Wallace who delivered the goods to Frederique Piquionne. The cross was perfect, the finish sublime, and neither would have taken place without the intelligence of the Timbers captain. The goal gave a little pep to those heavy legs and turned the game’s tempo to one that favored the Timbers. On a truly successful team you need to have players contributed both small and great things. On the Timbers’ first goal, there were both.
3. The Great RodWall of Porterlandia
Remember when there was some plonker who was wondering whether Rodney Wallace would be able to come back to his torrid form after his extended vacation time with the Costa Rican national team? Ignore that plonker. Clearly the RodWall didn’t miss a beat, setting up all three goals and narrowly missing out on a couple of his own. It is an understatement to say that the Timbers attack is a lot more dangerous when Wallace is causing unpredictable havoc on the left wing then it is when Kalif Alhassan is simply being unpredictable. While it is easy to focus on the goals, consider this fact. The Timbers conceded five goals in the first 150 minutes of MLS play at Jeld-Wen Field this season. In the subsequent 570 minutes of play at home, they have yielded none. That is six straight shutouts. The starting back four has been different in five of those six matches. There is a good system and a good keeper in place.
4. Things and such
- Diego Valeri was all kinds of good in the attack, but the thing I liked about him the most was in the second half with the Timbers ahead by a pair of goals he was out there killing the game with simple, quick passes. We haven’t always seen the Timbers do that when protecting leads, but Valeri and company put in a professional game killing performance.
- I’m not sure if it was because Piquionne was up front and he is so good in the air or if it is because Colorado has been burned in the air a lot this season or a combination of those two things, but the Timbers sure did play a lot of over the top balls.
- Meanwhile, Colorado seemed intent on trying to go over the top of Jack Jewsbury and the Rapids had some success with it early. Jewsbury with some good support from Wallace adjusted to this in the second half. It is pretty darned handy to have an experienced player like Jewsbury who can get the job done on either the left or right side in a pinch. Harrington was missed but not terribly.
- It was really encouraging to see Ryan Johnson score. I got a sense that his form was coming back in the game in LA. He can score in streaks so let’s see what happens as we go forward and Caleb Porter juggles his minutes.
- Diego Chara went to entire 90 minutes without committing a single foul. How many times has he been able to say that in his career?
- Did you notice that Will Johnson took the free kicks and corner kicks? Valeri hasn’t been especially effective with them of late.
- As has been the case too often in his career, Darlington Nagbe has been largely MIA since his stunning goal last weekend against FC Dallas.
- I’m showing my age here, but I am very fond of the fact that AJB has been sporting the black boots the last few games. The anti-bling stands out.
5. Possession and Passing
For the 15th time in 17 games the Timbers had more possession than their opponents, however this was the lowest possession percentage of any home game to date. Through eight home games, the Timbers are averaging 60.8% possession, 495 passes per game with 82% passing accuracy.
|Match 17 vs Col||Match 16 at LA||Match 15 vs FCD||Match 14 at Chicago||Match 13 at DC||Match 12 at Van||Match 11 vs Chivas||Match 10 at FCD||Match 9 v NE|
|Match 8 at SKC||Match 7 at SJ||Match 6 vs SJ||Match 5 vs Houston||Match 4 at Col||Match 3 at Sea||Match 2 vs Montreal||Match 1 vs. NY|