1. Adversity, you are owned
They were on the road against a Casacadian rival that hadn’t lost at home in ages. They were struggling to find their game. Their designated player from Argentina couldn’t string together a pass. They fell behind twice. The referee seemed like a twelfth opponent. They went down a man just at the moment when a dramatic comeback would have been in order. The lineup was scrambled with players out of position and an end to the unbeaten run looking eminent. And then, like has been the case on more than one occasion this season, the Portland Timbers overcame the adversity and got a result when a result wasn’t expected. It wasn’t a beautiful performance on Saturday against Vancouver but it was a beautiful result. It was a draw that felt like a victory for the Timbers and a defeat for the Whitecaps. It was another sign that the 2013 Timbers are a tough bunch. Continue reading
1. Business, you’ve been taken care of
Almost as sharply dressed as Chelis.
A game plan that didn’t work, a feeble attack, and a loss of fight after falling behind on the road. Thank you, Chivas USA, for reminding us of how the Portland Timbers used to be. No more. In a game in which the Timbers were expected to come away with three points and ahead of a stretch where they don’t play a league game at home for over a month, they took care of business in convincing fashion. If getting draws on the road is part of the game plan, then getting three points at home is also a requirement. Getting three points against a team in free fall that was playing without its top keeper and with an attack that doesn’t attack was a must. Continue reading
1. Pulling some strings
Caleb Porter’s managerial technique
Boy is it a lot more fun when you have a team that is capable of coming away with a result at any stadium in MLS. It is also fun to have a manager capable of making in-game adjustments. One that really paid off for Caleb Porter against FC Dallas on Wednesday night was moving Darlington Nagbe to the striker spot at around the 60 minute mark. In doing so, Porter moved an off his game Diego Valeri out wide and played Frederic Piquionne in support of Nags. The move seemed to ignite Nagbe, while giving the FCD back line a different look than what they saw when Piquionne was the striker with Valeri in support in the first half. And yet again we saw some contribution from RodWall off the bench, doing the hard work to get himself in position to set Nagbe up. Some might be critical of having Kalif Alhassan in the linuep – he was largely absent most of the match – but it sure is nice having some flexibility with the lineup when you play three games in ten days. Continue reading
1. The gates they did not flood
New England’s defense
Coming off a huge win in Kansas City, Thursday’s game against New England had all the makings of a proverbial “trap” game, a game where the Timbers would lack effort and focus against a poor side. That didn’t quite prove the case. There was plenty of effort and the energy from the Timbers was good (legs looked a bit heavy at the end) . Instead, it just a frustrating affair where missed opportunities early on allowed New England to play its sit back and wait game to near perfection. It was one of those nights where if the Timbers would have scored one they probably would have scored four. But the longer the Revs hung around the harder it became to break through. In the end, what prevented a true “trap” game was a couple of big efforts from Donovan Ricketts. A point at home against a poor, injury-plagued side is disappointing, but if the same 4 points had come from a draw in KC and a win against NE we’d be all smiles right about now. Continue reading
1. When like meet like
Damn, that was fun to watch.
We’ve seen the Timbers play against bash ball, we’ve seen them square off against a compact Montreal team, and we’ve seen them go against teams that are more physical than technical. On Saturday they finally faced a team that plays a similar style that they do with a focus on possession and high pressure. The result was about entertaining a soccer game as you will see all season in MLS. The Timbers were able to do what Sporting Kansas City has done so well the past couple of seasons. They pressured the back line into mistakes and punished them with quick counters. They exposed a team that had only given up five goals in its first eight games. In processes, the Timbers remained unbeaten on the road and sent a statement to the rest of the league that the team can play with anyone, anywhere. Continue reading
With his wingspan, he can’t buy suits off the rack.
1. Donny Done Good - He makes the tough saves look easy and the easy ones look tough. On Sunday night, Donovan Ricketts made everything look easy even though it was not. Ricketts put in his best save stopping performance of the season against a San Jose side that threw everything at him, including the league’s top goal scorer from a season ago. Ricketts won the one-on-one battles, putting his team in a position to get a point on the road and putting himself in position to pick up another save of the week award. Continue reading
Best paired with Rhum.
1. Back from Exile
The last time that Futty Danso started and went the full 90 minutes for the Portland Timbers was on July 21, 2012 when the Timbers lost 5-0 to FC Dallas in a match players some players, including Futty, where accused of quitting. Heading to to Sunday’s match against San Jose it seemed that we’d see Futty traded to parts unknown before we would see him in the starting XI. But with injuries and departures galore at center back, the long-time Timbers servant was in the lineup, paired with Mikael Silvestre. It was the fourth different pairing in the middle this season and ninth since the start of last season. You wouldn’t have known it. The two looked very comfortable playing next to each other with Futty displaying a composure on the ball that he has often lacked throughout his career, including last week in the reserves match where he looked awful. After his dubious debut, Silvestre has developing into a calming influence in the back. On Sunday his presence rubbed off on Futty. Continue reading