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Brilliant – (Portland Timbers 1 – San Jose Nil)

Bottom line up front: (BLUF)

Again Portland garner a Clean Sheet,

And again Portland dominate many parts of Possession with Purpose as they defeat San Jose 1-nil.

That’s the two critical pieces of “results” info here as Portland looks to continue a successful campaign this year in repaying the fans (Merritt Paulson’s words – not mine).

That said here are some  takeaways from this game for your consideration…

Maintenance Check: Injuries…

AJ Baptiste was a late scratch and Futty Danso made his first appearance this year — nicely done good sir!

A challenge, a HUGE challenge, for any player is to be called upon late before a game to make an appearance in the starting 11.  Some consternation (perhaps?) in seeing Futty’s name pop up in twitter before game time; there was for me.

After seeing his performance though it says to me that this guy is a true professional who knows and understands his role, can work within that role, and meet the needs of the team fulfilling that role in a very difficult environment.

It’s been a long time since Futty got before the fans at JELD-WEN field and given the opponent (Wondolowski incorporated) he did a stellar job.

Diego Valeri – should be back in fine fettle for frustrating the flotsam floating in San Jose the next weekend…

AJ Baptiste – courtesy of Will Conwell at Stumptownfooty – it is unknown if AJ will be fit for the game next weekend…

Sal Zizzo nears his return – his crossing down the wings and additional flexibility in playing forward, midfielder or defender (like Wallace) makes this team considerably stronger and offers greater variation…

Damn the Torpedoes – full steam ahead 

The elbow by Gordon… and one other thing on this guy…

Prior to the game I was chatting with an MLS Refereee Assessor about last weeks non-call on the elbow/forearm Valeri took.  Upon closer review it seemed pretty certain that the elbow/forearm was thrown and that a reasonable outcome (for the referee) would have been to issue either a yellow card, or more appropriately, a red card, for that incident.

Here’s why – although the full contact might not have been seen the ‘end-result was’; Valeri did appear somewhat dazed and as a DP he is a top player in MLS – and to be without his services for almost 75% of the game (and perhaps a next game due to the new concussion protocol) a fair and reasonable outcome (offered by an MLS assessor) could have been a red card.  This coupled with the ‘concussion protocol’ should have been on the mind of the referee in his decision at that time…

It wasn’t… So back to the elbow by Gordon last night… again the Referee did not see that particular foul but he did see the outcome… and given due care and attention to that outcome the Referee awarded a yellow card and therefore a red card to Gordon.   It is likely a full red card would have been offered anyway if he wasn’t already on a yellow.

So while it may not have been an approach used last weekend; that approach was used this weekend.  The Referee’s are discussing calls during games and trying to make adjustments as appropriate as each game is played… it is within the rules to make an assessment after viewing an outcome – the referee did this and he should be called out for making a great call!

As for Gordon – well he was pretty much a marginal player Sunday night who made his living making others uncomfortable in more ways than one – it is appropriate that the talents and personality of a guy like that get removed from the pitch…

I’m not done with Gordon yet… here’s the video from PST on MSNBC.com showing the elbow throw; here’s the video showing the homophobic slur; here’s his official statement after the game about his homophonbic statement during the game and then check out this little blurb from the owner of San Jose

Needless to say Gordon not only has no class on the pitch as a player he has no class on the pitch as a person – there is absolutely no room for someone like this to be on professional football pitch…

If MLS wants to compete with the other Professional Football (Soccer) Leagues for top players and better ratings they better continue to get better at refereeing games and helping to get rid of players like this.

This guy should be banned for at least three games; others may know better on what a more appropriate disciplinary action might be; but some action on the part of the Commissioner is warranted and its shows weakness if no additional action is taken.

Possession with Purpose – trends, tendencies, and tidbits…

Trends and Tendencies:

Penetrations by SJFC and other Opponents

Penetrations by SJFC and other Opponents

For only the second time this year the variation in penetration against Portland was about the same down either wing…

This is surprising somewhat given their tendency last year to pick on Kosuke Kimura with crosses stemming from penetrations down our left – but that can also say quite a bit about how our left may have improved defensively compared to last year…

So how did those penetrations translate to creation of goal scoring opportunities for San Jose?

Where Goal Scoring Opportunities originated from

Where Goal Scoring Opportunities originated from

Overall it would appear San Jose had more success in generating GSO’s down their left/our right.

A reasonable conclusion to be drawn from this is that the defensive ability to minimize San Jose penetrations on their right/our left occured more quickly than down their left/our right; hence not as many opportunities to deliver the ball into the box in some form.

An add on to this seems reasonable that both Futty Danso and Jack Jewsbury are slightly slower a-foot than Michael Harrington and Mikael Silvestre; hence San Jose may have had a bit more time in creating initial GSO’s on that side?  Others may have a different view…

So in considering the San Jose creation of GSO’s what was the success rate on their crosses – a primary (GSO method of delivery) and the life blood of Wondolowski last year against Portland?

SJFC Crosses to Date

SJFC Crosses to Date

A total of 14 crosses were noted by OPTA (the fewest in game total by San Jose this year) and only one was deemed successful (from a corner kick) all other 13 crosses were unsuccessful.

So while the right side may have appeared to be a bit slow on initial response the combined back-four and midfielder support did their job in shutting down when appropriate.

The clean sheet, of course, is the final result that reinforces that conclusion.

Portland Attacking Efficiency compared to the Opponent…

Portland Timbers Attacking Efficiency Compared to Points Earned

Portland Timbers Attacking Efficiency Compared to Points Earned

While this statistical correlation decreased from .6249 to .5339 the visual correlation still seems to remain strong – when Portland has a much higher efficiency total than the opponent it appears to support the three point outcome; (when comparatively lower – nil pwa) another 16 games of this data should give an indication on how much the statistics support the visual interpretation.

One offering I can submit however is that the correlation between five of the six data points remains strong; TOP to PA3 is .792, PA3 to GSO is .803; GSO to Shots Taken is .182; Shots on Goal to Shots Taken is .674 and Goals Scored to Shots on Goal is .679 (after 6 games).

The current correlation between Time of Possession and Winning (three points) is -0.017 – so at this stage (after six games) there isn’t any correlation winning games and strict time on possessing the ball – it’s down to the overall purpose of possession where the correlation begins to appear.  At this stage the overall correlation between PTFC and their opponent PWP to Points scored is .5339

So what happened this game that might have lowered the correlation a wee bit… (especially in comparing Shots Taken to GSO’s)?

Defense happened…

San Jose did a great job in limiting shots taken based upon the number of GSO’s created by Portland; (48 GSo’s to 11 Shots).  That is the lowest relative output by Portland this year but in considering balance and ‘end-state’ I’m sure a result of three points far exceeds the minor nuisance of having fewer shots taken.

Statistically speaking; in previous games (all five of them) Portland had converted at least 33% of their GSO’s into shots taken; in this game it was near 20%…

Overall Possession With Purpose (limited to focus on PTFC and SJFC only)…

Limited PWP After Game 1 of PTFC vs SJFC

Limited PWP After Game 1 of PTFC vs SJFC

As mentioned above there was a huge drop-off between GSO’s (the red and green bars) and Shots Taken for PTFC – that drove the overall correlation between those two points down a wee bit – this is early days and to be relevant 22 games of overall data will be needed.

On the other hand Portland also did well defensively; they held SJFC (the orange and blue bars) to their lowest shots taken total this year – I’d be willing to bet that the shots taken next weekend will be a bit higher… if not then San Jose has some huge attacking issues and the Portland defense is really much better than face value (at this time)…

So the overall output for San Jose (this game) was a far cry from the norm for this highly offensive (do I mean rude here?) team…

Tidbits…

I took in the Reserve match with my Missus last night and Nanchoff scored a brace; wicked good strike from atop the box after a turnover in the attacking third created by Zemanski and Nanchoff’s other goal came on a brilliant set-piece about 25 yards out atop the 18 yard box.

For what it is worth; Valencia, Piq, Nanchoff, Zemanski, Gangnes, and Rincon all looked quite settled and confident in their roles in that reserve match last night.  Miller did a yeoman’s job at rightback but it appeared to me that Evans, Kawulok, and Fehr continue to struggle with the pace/speed of the game.

Others may have a different view but it seemed to me like those three played more ‘reactionary’ as opposed to ‘creationary’ – is that a word?

Nice saves by Kocic – quick reactions and in my view we have a capable backfill to slot in at square one if Mister Fanstastic gets a bad knock…

Diego Chara and his Yellow Card – I was chatting with an MLS Assessor about that call and their offering was that Diego Chara got booked for ‘interfering with a promising attack’ as opposed to a physical challenge.

Given the location of that foul that was probably a good thing Diego disrupted that play in our attacking half of the pitch.  In hindsight I’ll bet that Kinnear wished Houston had given up a foul during that 20 pass combo by Portland last week.

If you’d like to read some more statistics on Diego Chara, and his history on fouling, I did a short piece for Stumptownfooty while offering up a comparison of sorts between Diego and Jack Jewsbury.

U-18’s getting their shot in the Reserve Match…

Desir, Nosack, and Macchionne all got a look in with Desir coming in around the 60 minute mark, Nosack around the 80 minute point and Macchionne with about a minute left.  Desir didn’t look out of place but perhaps in his haste to ‘look the part’ he probably played more complicated passes than he should have – the simple pass is sometimes the best pass.

Nosack looked physically capable of playing against more aged opponents but spent his time chasing the game instead of playing the game (in my view) – that’s not a diss on Nosack that’s more to do with him getting used to the pace of professional soccer as opposed to U-18 soccer.  Nosack will be attending U-Dub next year with a scholarship in soccer.

Both did well and I’m sure made some other folks feel very proud of their accomplishments at this age… rightly so… this is a hard game and the U-18 level is just a short notch below being a full time professional.

In closing…

Portland Midfielders increase their lead in teams goals scored…  oh – by the way – lest I forget – another crackin’ goal by our Team Captain Will Johnson!  Once again a combined team effort that got the Timbers the result they deserved.  Not enough hyperbole can be offered up here about the new players Portland have brought in to mesh with those that stayed to make this team better.

The entertainment value has gone up and so have the points totals…  others will know better than me on this but have the Portland Timbers ever been 7th in the MLS Power Rankings before?

I do offer that with caution – I advocate the same views as Caleb Porter but perhaps with different words – managing expectations is critical – the greater the expectation the greater the downfall when not reached…  some stretch targets are out there to measure as each game passes – for me there is nothing better than a clean sheet.

 Next up my Match Preview for this twin-spin against San Jose — with a few Player Evaluations offered up as well…

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.