Timbers in Tucson – Three days till Seattle
I beg your indulgence for a quick intro here; my blog site will now be working with word press so bear with me as I get used to it and all the extra things that can be provided as time passes.
For now though some quick thoughts about the game and some general offerings for your consideration.
I completely agree with the after the game assessment by Caleb that there were plenty of goal scoring opportunities as part of the possession based battle that took place with SKC. There just isn’t a lot of juice to squeeze out of a pre-season match other than the lads continued to train, get fit, and build towards the regular season. Hopefully, not like SKC, the lads stay healthy and major injury free.
Clearly he voiced concern about the lack of finishing and my initial thoughts are that this will be the overriding challenge as the season unfolds. It’s not easy going full speed while applying a ‘finishing touch’ as in many cases those touches require finesse and superb timing. With Ryan Johnson being called up it will be an opportunity for other forwards to shine against Seattle.
That being said much (very much) of the game is controlled and influenced by the midfielders and while the first half was engaging and see-saw with few ‘goal scoring opportunities’ (gso’s) either way the second half, with a different squad, took on a different feel.
If you watched the game; and I’ll figure most of you did… the goal scoring opened off a free kick resulting from a very poorly timed tackle by Kalif Alhassan just above and atop the right side of the 18 yard box. Fouls in this location last year did result in opponent goals and this was no different. A well placed, low trajectory rocket from Jerome Mechak (on trial) netted the only goal of the game after taking a slight deflection as it entered the 18 yard box.
Bottom line here is that set pieces win games; it did here but thankfully not one that counts in the books.
So on to the rest of the second half. In watching the game I hope you saw the strong play by Michael Nanchoff (also on trial) and his deft left peg as he offered up three brilliantly placed free kicks into the 18 that could easily have resulted in a goal for Portland. Impressive and with his diminutive size he appears and is much quicker on the ball than some of the taller lads. Hopefully we see more of him as the pre-season unfolds.
As the second half continued to unfold there were numerous chances; the most memorable to me was the sitter that Dike missed off a well placed pass by Valencia; hard to imagine Bright’s foot or ankle not getting onto that ball. The other clear opportunity came in the waining minutes (as noted by the press release) when Mosquera simply hit the ball to wide. Like most players he struck for the far post… the logical area; but alas it finished high and wide of the target. In another game, on another day that ball slots home; but last night it didn’t. So be it… it’s pre-season.
Another observation about this game that was pretty cool was the number of fans in the stadium watching this game; plenty of Timber colors and with yesterday’s games drawing some Sounders supporters I imaging Tuesday night might be pretty packed.
Other players I sensed/felt that had good second halves included Kawulok and Valencia; KAH had some worthy through balls and other ball movement like Alexander but in their roles as central midfielders responsible to play above the back four things could have gone better.
It’s a dead horse worth kicking again though; fouls in the defending third are unacceptable and with the scars from last year still fresh on the wound that begins to heal it’s not a good time to scratch that itch and renew the bleeding. A foul in that area is just not good…
Finally, the last offering about this pre-season game was that the ‘first choice’ for Caleb Porter in replacing David Horst was Mikael Silvestre; not sure if that is a spot-on indication that Silvestre is locking in a place on the roster but with Boyd and PTFC now completely divorced there is an official roster spot open.
Some closing thoughts and observations as Tuesday draws near… training the last few days has focused quite a bit on positional as well as possessional movement on and off the ball; in watching the pre-season game I can see that rubbing off in the players movements and passing.
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