Another grueling match for Timbers U-23’s this weekend; that’s three on the trot now where the opponent has eked out a result where perhaps a different scoreline might better reflect the run of play on the pitch.
It’s unlucky really as the Timbers opened up with possession and basically maintained possession throughout. Hard part about this one, like the last game against Crossfire, was their inability to manage the counterattack or the redirection of a hard shot from just outside the 18 during a scramble to clear the defending area on a set-piece.
It didn’t help that Victoria pretty much hibernated for large parts of the game and for me it did appear that the lads were falling into a trap of passing for the sake of passing.
The purpose seemed to get lost sometimes with overplay and some anxious switches when more one-two (a top the 18 movement), as displayed by Vitalis and Foxhoven a number of times, might have resulted in a goal or two as the game progressed…
To be sure there were bright spots in this game outside of the scoreline and first touches were much better than on that bouncey pitch in Camas. But again, with virtually no pressure from Victoria in the middle of the park, first touches didn’t have the same importance.
With respect to some players today…
Most notable for Timbers U-23’s, in my opinion, was again #29, Saad Abdul-Salaam. While patrolling the right back slot he sustained his side of the pitch while providing numerous opportunities in the attacking third. Phrases like, good feet, good vision, strong, low-hard crossing from the right, and patience in the build-up come to mind as I watched him work the pitch for 90 odd minutes.
Another notable performance by Bryan Gallego, who again, I believe is playing out of position, as the right center-back on defense. His awareness, vision and continued laser-like switches provided significant grist to the attack.
While I haven’t seen him play much his ‘presence’ on the pitch is probably why he is slotting in as a center-back. Perhaps as the season comes to a close he finds his way into the middle of the park where his vision and patience on the ball may better suit?
With respect to the left side of the defense. Again there were issues based on pace and perhaps some over-playing as opposed to playing off a tad more given the pace of Highlander attackers and midfielder, Brett Levis. I tracked Levis with the first assist and the second goal; a superb piece of dribbling up to and around a Timbers defender.
Next up Match Preview – Portland Timbers vs Columbus Crew – early indications are 90 degree heat and some brutal humidity… that match in Frisco and this heat wave we are having will do well in prepping Portland for that weather.