Portland pounces with possession, purpose, passion and patience as they put 2 past Houston in pre-season

Still early days but things might be fleshing out pretty quickly for Caleb Porter as the first team took it to Houston tonight.

It all started with some rather choppy, stop-start play in the first 60 minutes as the newer players for both teams vied for vision to show their worth; in considering the success Long showed in the first pre-season match he pretty much started where he left off.

And while he may not have had as many touches this game (I’ll get to that in a minute) he did play his role and make himself available as appropriate while providing good vision and first touch skills when on the ball.

As for some of the regulars taking to the field the first 60 I’m not as positive about their performances. Granted I’m just watching the match in the confines of my home but my first impression on Nanchoff, Zemanski and Alhassan (3 strong reserves) was that they were more interested in showing off their individual skills and not their team skills.

In my view many chances were left wanting as the intent and action to move the ball forward, quickly, got in the way of quality… we’ve seen that before in the early stages of last year and many other teams fall into that trap as well.

In considering the 10 field players out there the Timbers could have been far more judicious about their ball movement and possession. And in recounting the match I’m not sure the first 60 minutes saw Portland make any possession based attacks that exceeded more than 4-5 passes in a row.

As noted in my tweets there were numerous occasions in the last 30 minutes where we saw Timbataka in action and with Diego Valeri still on the sidelines it was impressive to see Gaston and Darlington linking up so well with Maxi and Will while Diego Chara had his stellar game playing midfield stopper.

With respect to Schillo; it speaks volumes, in my view, that he got time with the first team tonight in lieu of Kalif. And while he wasn’t leveraged a whole lot he did get space and use space when offered the chance.

Part of the problem for Schillo was how effective the Timbers were in penetrating down the right side or deep into the middle; in cases like this his presence alone on the left presents a “potential energy as opposed to kinetic energy” and just when I thought he was not seeing enough of the ball he popped up out of nowhere and played a superb through-ball that almost netted a goal for Portland.

So for me, this game, Schillo had a role and played it well; he didn’t overplay and he didn’t try to do too much!  That on its own is a very mature way of playing. As for playing defense; he didn’t seem to wander and he helped as needed when Houston looked to penetrate down their right.

Peay – another good performance by this young lad as well and wasn’t it interesting to see him move over to the right fullback slot to make room for Gallego as Powell came off the pitch.  Some strong minutes for the young lad and he held his own againt.

All told Schillo, Long and Peay are all looking like they ‘belong’ on the pitch!  1 forward, 1 midfielder and 1 defender – a balance of power that shows well on the guys drafted this year!

In closing…

I’m sure there is more that I could offer but in my final thoughts I’d suggest that Norberto and Pa-Kah did well at the back; as did Futty and Mckenzie – the fullbacks weren’t pushed too much though it appeared Villafana had more energy moving forward than covering his home turf at the back.

And yes Jorge did well getting forward but when in those positions the crosses need to be better; we saw Ryan Miller struggle last year with his crosses; let’s hope Jorge gets that sorted early.

As for Powell; good game and like Jorge he pressed forward; the hard thing about that was it appeared to me he got too far forward too fast; leaving his teammates behind at times. I’m not sure on this thought but I’d submit that a more impressive performance for Caleb sees his reserves playing more as a team of 10 on the pitch and not 1 or 2 separate pieces that might get lucky and score a goal.

By the way – in case you missed my tweet after the game Maxi Urutti was my MOTM; he assisted on the first Timbers goal and scored the second one; with both goals coming as a result of Portland playing a quick counterattack after winning the ball in the midfield.

Gaston and Darlington were superb in their first touch as well as making space when they made that first touch; phenomenal how those two guys will link up with Diego Valeri in the midfield this year.  A triangle of terror for the opponents…

Forward into the next preseason match; and in case you missed it Sigi Schmid was quite the spectator tonight as he watched Portland score two goals as he sat behind the Houston goal the later part of the game… hope you took good notes Sigi!


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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