Time to take a reality check… where Portland is now versus last year.
Most probably won’t agree with that headline; it is what it is…
For me; I’m kinda past the gutted and devastated point and more at a spot where refection, for me, has more value than the mistakes made by this very hard working team last night.
However viewed this season remains brilliant compared to last year; at this point the Timbers sat on 21 points and if not last, there were near dead last.
Another critical piece to consider is the stellar ‘saves of the week’ by Donovan Ricketts, this year, if those saves aren’t made this team would be sitting on 31 points and not 39 points.
31 has us looking up and ‘wishing’ we were dead even with Colorado or Real and it certainly would not have bode well to know that both Seattle and Vancouver would be ahead of us in the standings.
One additional thought for your consideration; great teams find ways to finish strong and ‘get points’ where it just doesn’t look like that will happen.
Throughout the course of this year Portland have either won or drawn, 6 times (that I recall) in the last 30 minutes of a game… lest we forget just a few weeks ago Portland stole three points from LA in the waning seconds. They have also tied Seattle, Vancouver, New York and Colorado with late goals and also pulled three points back in that stunner against Sporting KC.
That’s also 10 points gained in lieu of 2 points. That’s another 8 point gap on top of the superb saves by Donovan Ricketts.
So that’s a potential 39 points turned to 31 points turned to a possible 23 points – only two points shy of the Timbers record last year!
In one or two of those cases the points saved by Donovan might also be the points saved by the late goals – but since they are on different sides of the pitch it is likely they are not.
That being said great teams also need to deal with diversity; the outcome of the game last night “could” be a point in time where diversity might occur, but given the level headed approach this team, and Coach, have taken (day to day and game to game) I would offer it is unlikely to impact their general performance.
If anything it’s a reprise of the age old ‘youth football rhyming phrase made famous by coaches’ – “when it doubt kick it out”.
So even though that phrase could apply to conditions twice last night it’s still reasonable, in my view, to submit that Portland got 1 point instead of nil-pwa.
And nil-pwa means those two games in hand are only good enough to tie Real; with the one point outcome (like it or not), the Timbers still have the opportunity to leap-frog Real.
Like in a game, it’s all about creating chances; Portland did a great job last night of creating chances, as they have done all season long. With that mental approach they, in turn, continue to keep a chance at getting the Western Conference title.
Bottom line here is that Portland remain 3 points behind the best team in MLS with two games in hand. Nobody is going to give away those three points and the Timbers will have to work really hard, as a team, next weekend, to bust up Seattle… the Timbers were going to have to do that anyway – so nothing has changed…
In closing –
For those keeping track an oddity about this game, compared to the one at Rio Tinto, is this – Real Salt Lake attacked “more” and produced “more” in JELD-WEN than Rio Tinto… and overall, Real Salt Lake outperformed Portland in the attacking final third.
They did this without the services of Rimando, Beckerman and Saborio – having a deep bench means quite a bit…
Overall they had a 74% completion percentage in the final third to Portland’s 68%. They also produced more shots on goal compared to shots taken (more accurate) and they also ended up with three goals.
For those interested, the overall relationship between my new Possession with Purpose data points remains much stronger than working with penetrations and goal scoring opportunities created. Part of that new development, for the math types, is the use of a polynomial (curved line) as opposed to a straight line.
What will be interesting is that when this season ends I will try and weave these ‘team’ outputs into a filter for creating a metric to measure striker productivity…
Next up my match preview as the Timbers travel north to take on the Flounders.