Timbers Get First Win! – Portland 2 Houston – Nil

Party in Portland – We’ll sing for you Timbers till you finish the fight- and so goes the Timbers Army last night and many others on the edge of their seat as Portland got their first win…

Brilliant – bloody ab-fab brilliant!

Not too many more hyperboles can describe that feeling rocking through JELD-WEN as Portland dominated; completely dominated the game against Houston.

How so you may ask?  In one stretch of time (23 minutes) Portland had penetrated the ‘red-zone’ (attacking third of Houston) 20 times compared to only 4 penetrations by Houston – that was from the 45th minute up to the 78th minute of play.  If that wasn’t enough to convince you how dominating Portland was here’s that whole half worth of data…

25 Penetrations into the Red Zone; of those 25 penetrations 17 resulted in the creation of goal scoring opportunities that generated 9 shots taken, 5 shots on goal and 2 goals… Houston on the other hand only penetrated the Timbers Red-Zone 12 times, creating only 8 goal scoring opportunities, 2 shots taken, 1 shot on target and no goals…

What is even more intriguing is that during the half-time interview with John Strong Porter had indicated the team needed to play more direct in the second half – talk about crafty and the fog of war – nothing could have been further from the truth.

Yea, Jack Jewsbury and one or two others played some direct balls from the back four but let’s not forget how the first goal was scored.

At the 53:34 minute of play Kalif Alhassan won a tackle in the midfield and played it back to Ricketts; 1 minute and 10 seconds later (54:44) Ryan Johnson bagged his second goal of the season on the tail end of 21 consecutive passes that saw the ball travel from the midfield to the left, then right, then left, back to the midfield, to the right, back to midfield back right and finally the finishing touch delivered by a brilliant cross from Chara to Johnson.

Direct football my arse!  That is Timber-Taka to a T.  and that run of play puts the Akron Zips Tika-Taka video offered back in September in this article to the archives of times past by… this latest example against Houston should get copied and archived for Portland…

So what about that lineup???

I didn’t see quite the pundit action during pre-game this time around but I did offer up in my match preview that Wallace might get a look-in and that we might see a change at right back…  alas my thinking was a return by Miller but Porter instead turned to the veteran (Jack Jewsbury) to anchor things alongside Horst, Silvestre and Harrington.  A solid back-four in my opinion and a worthy approach to try and stop the goals against rot.

Unlucky for David, just returning from injury only to go back on the disabled list again with a damaged MCL; that said Baptiste came in and (bottom line) got the job done.  But the injuries didn’t stop there.

The same can be offered up for Alhassan; Valeri takes a nasty knock to the cheek (laceration it appears) and Kalif comes in and gets the job done.

Even more important in this effort is that Kalif is not really noted for his defensive presence but as noted above he initiated the sequence of events that led to the first goal while also providing the initial linking pass to Nagbe who released Johnson down the left for his brace.

So how about Rodney Wallace?  With Wallace in this gig that gave Portland another left-pegged player out wide while also allowing Nagbe to rotate and work more off his right boot down the opposite wing.

Another advantage I saw to this was the throw-in down the left side – with Wallace’s leaping ability this gives Harrington a better target for throw-ins while also lending a defensive hand to him if the overload happens.

You’ll recall that 3 of the past 4 teams we’ve played have looked to penetrate down our left (their right).  This game was no different but I will get into those statistics tomorrow… for now consider Houston no different than everyone else besides the one-dimensional and very lack-luster Seattle Sounders…

In closing…

Two words  — CLEAN SHEET… For many three points is probably the high-point of this game; for me not as much… over the long haul the earlier this team can sustain and maintain clean sheets the better the opportunity to win anywhere, anyplace, anytime…

In recalling the match preview – a nil-nil draw here would have been very good – a win and three points great.

What I didn’t offer because I didn’t think or feel that it would happen was a win with a CLEAN SHEET; that’s not great that’s the Dogs Bollocks mate with a little bit of Dench thrown in!

Next Up My Match Analysis and more data on Possession With Purpose to include trends, tendencies and tidbits I gathered in chatting with the MLS Referee assessor last night…




Chris Gluck

Chris Gluck

I have been covering the Portland Timbers and Major League Soccer, as a community blogger/analyst for the Columbian Newspaper, since June, 2012. Since then my involvement in soccer analysis has expanded to include participating in the Regional Emmy Award Winning Soccer City PDX TV Show (Comcast Sports Northwest). My unique analytical approach has been published in Europe and presented at the World Conference on Science and Soccer 2014. I also appear regularly as a co-host on Rose City Soccer Show and the Yellowcarded Podcast. You can find my work on PossessionwithPurpose.com, PTFC Collective and Prost Amerika.

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