Match Analysis – Timbers (nil) Sounders (1)

Simply stated the Portland Timbers took one on the chin last night and they really need to pick themselves up and move on… adversity is part of the game and it is what it is…  and through all this Portland still hang tough!

My tidbits and tendencies following the game touching on the foul, the midfield, the run of play and the shots before closing…

By the way… before reading on I strongly suggest you read this article by Ted Knutson – a great read on goal scoring… it’ll be referenced later on to help give some perspective on the lack of goals last night… not an excuse – just another view to consider…

The foul…

Of course the Capt Obvious here comes down to the blatantly terrible, ill timed, pathetic, and not the first time, shite tackle by Kah.  NEVERMIND the gutless knee/thigh bump to Johnson’s head a bit later that was clearly visible to a National TV Audience!

For me, as a youth Head Coach, that player would be benched… no games and a suspension of play for at least three games; there is no room for mindless and gutless and thoughtless play like that in a professional game.

I gave it some “ennnn”  when Gordon played his goonie tactics against Portland and that cheap shot was really no different!  As much as I hate to say it I hope the MLS review that late nudge and give him a three game suspension… sorry… but for me it’s simply unacceptable!

As early as the second game of his career with Portland I had offered that his poor positional play, along with dodgy ring-side attitude, on the pitch, could present a problem for Portland.

That is two games now (not counting the thankful draw to LA Galaxy in LA where he got booked in the first 7 minutes) where his specific individual play on the pitch has warranted a red card (one received in Columbus and based upon last night it should have been two) and both of them pathetically timed.

Sometimes teams take a gamble on players when they need someone to fill in where injuries have occurred; this may have been the case with Kah?!?

For me I’m usually about criticizing in private and praising in public but I made it a point to bash Gordon when his behavior was unacceptable and I’ll do no different here.  My hat is off to Caleb for ‘avoiding’ that discussion point last night.

Enuf said…  other than… the sooner David Horst returns to full fitness the better!

The midfield…

Jack Jewsbury got the head nod in a 4-1-4-1; a formation that should indicate Portland running on a single pivot central defensive midfielder as opposed to the standard two-pivot system we normally see with Chara and Johnson (with Zemanski and/or Jewsbury replacing one or the other).

To be honest I was surprised as both Porter and Paulson indicated some players needed to step up this game given the current injury conditions…

I hadn’t considered having Alhassan in the midfield mix because, quite simply, he doesn’t play defense that well and, despite the armchair analysis by Twellman and second-guessing after the fact, the midfield and forwards did quite well.

Both teams created chances but there was a difference in where the mistakes, by the midfield, were made.

Here’s an OPTA Chalkboard to show Portland’s combined tackled and possession lost (78) and unsuccessful dribbles (10) and then here’s one showing the same detail for Seattle where their combined tackled and possession lost was 88 and their unsuccessful dribbles reached (12).

The Timbers had fewer mistakes but more in their own defending half; to me this indicated Seattle were pressing higher and more effectively, as a midfield, than Portland.

It should come as no surprise that a home team will apply pressure further up the pitch and an away team will play a bit deeper; those two diagrams suggest that approach took place last night but for me, it just didn’t seem to appear that the ‘single pivot’ was as effective as the double-pivot (Caleb’s terms) with Chara and Johnson.

So bottom line here is that the five players selected did well and contributed effectively in the midfield and in ‘creating chances’ but not as good in controlling the ball in their own half.

I did offer up that Evans could get the call given the injuries, didn’t happen.  I’m not sure why – if he’s not ready to start at his age now, with his time in the league, then I’m not sure what the plan is for him.

Apparently a 90% Jewsbury is still rated more effective and efficient than a 100% Evans; perhaps there is more to it than that though?  It was also interesting to see Zemanski come on for Jewsbury after the injury, that too, also seems to indicate that a 90% Zemanski can offer more than a 100% Evans.  ?!?

As for the injection of Sal Zizzo, I think that was a precautionary move in case Powell had a worse knock than first thought.  Sal certainly provides more pace down the wing than Miller and when a goal down an attacking ‘defender’, who can behave like a midfielder, is more suitable.

Perhaps the loan move for Nanchoff has been more of a negative than a positive given this cruel run of injuries?

And while I’m sympathetic to Caleb indicating he has a strong bench I’m not necessarily in agreement with him given the injuries.

No-one indicated to me that Bedoya was a target but a DP was and we haven’t picked up anyone since then as the season winds down.    Maybe the dollars have run out?!?

The run of play…

With Golazo now in the mix my possession intervals diagram, started at the beginning of the season, is now overcome by events with Golazo now doing the same thing, in shorter increments….   here’s that diagram and more for your consideration.

Note also that you can click on ‘attacking’ in the passing area to see the penetrating passing going on “into the final third”; OPTA provides what goes on “in” the final third this provides what is going on “into” the final third – two different statistics…

The passing matrix diagram is also pretty cool and if you run your mouse over a player it will cycle through to pick out who that player passed to and got passes from…  for example the largest ‘line’ of passing is between Nagbe and Valeri while the largest line of passing for Seattle was between Alonso and Joseph.

For me what is interesting is the lack of passing that engaged Ryan Johnson compared to that of Dempsey and Eddie Johnson; if any team was performing better across all six midfielders and strikers it was Seattle…

I’ll have some more details on efficiency a bit later this week but for now a few simple details… Portland penetrated the Seattle defending third 33 times and generated 31 goal scoring opportunities that ended up generating 10 shots taken and 4 shots on goal for a simplified efficiency rating of 1.6618.

Seattle penetrated the Portland defending third 49 times and created 41 goals scoring opportunities that ended up generating 15 shots taken with three shots on goal for a simplified efficiency rating of 1.4025.

Again, if not for the set-piece, the run of play favored Portland; a small and pointless token as a takeaway for a game where no points were earned in the League table…

The shots…

Before reading go to split screen and check out the two diagrams offered here…  the “field position” of the strikes offered up by both teams and then the percentage chance to score for those areas based upon the article offered up by Ted Knutson…

Here’s the diagram for others to refer to in the future; note the source came from Ted Knutson…

Goal Scoring Diagram Area - A 1 in 33 for the red area, 1 in 18 for the orange area and a 1 in 6 chance for the green area.

Goal Scoring Diagram Area – A 1 in 33 for the red area, 1 in 18 for the orange area and a 1 in 6 chance for the green area.

As a reminder, areas outside the 18 yard box have a 1 in 33 chance of scoring a goal while areas directly atop the 6 yard box are 1 in 6 to score a goal and outside within the 18 yard box and to the left or right of the 6 yard box are 1 in 18 to score a goal.

Portland had 2 shots on goal in the “prime” area (1 in 6) 3 shots on goal in the “secondary” area (1 in 18) and 4 shots in the “subprime” area (1 in 33).    That equates to a .451 chance in scoring a goal with a likelihood to score a goal rating (all percentages added up) of .451

On the other hand Seattle had 6 shots in the “prime” area, 1 shot in the “secondary” area and 7 shots in the “subprime” area with a likelihood to score a goal rating of 1.195.

For me, many chances were created but in the wrong area!  I can offer up that from August 17th backwards the Timbers have scored just three goals from the 1 in 18 area and 3 goals from the 1 in 33 area.  All other goals (22 of them at that time) had come in the 1 in 6 area…  The three goals scored against RSL also came from the “green” area…

Bottom line here is that Seattle had a better shot pattern and while Portland got their shots off only 7 out of nine of them came from areas where they simply aren’t scoring that much…  

In closing –

This game really did play out like a Cup game and a set-piece won the three points… can’t look back – next up away to Real Salt Lake and hopefully some players returning from injury!

One thing I try to remind myself is that this is just season one and the Timbers still remain within a shout of the top prize(s)…. hard matches to follow for sure and the real stretch comes after Real Salt Lake when they start going up against teams they should beat and must beat to claw back some points in the league table…

Next post up, the second week of my own new MLS PWP Power Rankings…  if you missed the first offering here’s the link to get you prepped for this empirically based Power Ranking… that also includes two new “Final Third” Indices for your consideration

A future post this week will be a new update and slight overhaul to my Possession with Purpose efforts that includes a new twist called Dispossession with Purpose…  if there is value in looking at how a team attacks then there should be value in looking at how a team defends and where…






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, PTFC Collective and Prost Amerika.

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