Timbers draw nil-nil with Sounders in chippy preseason affair

For the hearty supporters who traveled to Tucson and by-passed the snow storm here congratulations on your superb timing!

And while there weren’t any goals scored the game looked an exciting one to watch from the stands, in a balmy 60 degrees, as offered up by Corey Cox in a tweet around game time!

Now for the juice…

It will be folly for teams to disregard the powerful attacking combination that Portland is building towards as the season opens next month; Darlington Nagbe, Maxi Urutti and Gaston Fernandez are simply short, sharp, shrewd and dangerous as they shred the opponents defense!

And with Diego Valeri and Steve Zakuani added to the mix the flexibility Portland can offer will be superb.

I omit Kalif in this mix for one reason; early on I’m just not seeing his timing and interplay/touches being as quick and as visionary as those other three guys.  

Some, to include myself, might expect him to be traded as Rodney Wallace reaches match fitness – and with Schillo Tshuma pressing hard for minutes this pre-season perhaps that move comes earlier?

So how about some of the newer guys tonight; how did they fare?

Schillo got his minutes but with the veterans being used to their interplay his touches weren’t as frequent as he might like; that’s okay, as time passes he’ll get more touches for the simple reason that Schillo plays simple football.

And no greater contrast to simple football can be offered at this time than with Alvas Powell.  Look, the kid (19 years old) has great pace and some awesome dribbling skills in the open field but as pressure mounts his quality begins to drop.

Some might say that’s not fair on him; well… as a fullback and defender Alvas needs to show less of the ball to the opponent and play with a bit more patience.  

Peay has played both right and left fullback and while not as fast as Alvas he does get forward – but – he doesn’t over-commit and he doesn’t take a great dribble and waste it with a quick turnover.

If Peay continues to progress with patience and control and Gallego remains steady as the lad the Timbers have known for quite some time Powell could be hurting for playing time when Jorge Villafana returns to fullback when Zakuani if fully healed.

Another view here is that Caleb has been pinching his fullbacks up a wee bit more as Diego Chara drops back to play forward sweeper in front of Kah and Norberto – both those guys have good speed so he can afford that rotation.

But if Powell is losing that ball too easy in a forward position there remains risk and we saw a number of times in the game against Seattle where Powell was over-committed and out of position – and when he did get back into position he, more often than not, lost his footing and was beaten both above and to the side of the 18 yard box; better players on those wings will finish better and it’s never good to give up goals.

I may be ranting a bit here on Alvas but it is what it is… goals against is the most critical statistic for most teams – teams that give up fewer goals (over a ten year period of time in the English Premier League)  ‘according to Anderson and Sally from Prozone’ earned over 2 points, on average, per game and teams that simply scored goals and didn’t defend well earned just over 1 point per game.

In wrapping up some final thoughts…

Norberto and Kah continue to develop as a strong pairing in the back and Mister Fantastic was pretty much untested.  Michael and Jack had a few troublesome bits on occasion but crosses offered by Seattle were either off target or cleared effectively by others.

Jorge continues to show well and took up a midfield role again tonight as Peay settled into the fullback slot.

Fochive got the head nod tonight and showed well with good positional play and the occasional hard tackle that showed his physical presence would be felt.

When Zemanski took a knock on his ankle Long came in and did his job; as tweeted tonight I would submit Long and Gallego were both rested to give other guys a go / opportunity to show themselves in game conditions again.

From what I can see competition is tough for those vying to be the 7 who form the substitutes bench; Nanchoff played more like a teammate tonight as did Villafana but I was surprised, at times, to see Zemanski hurrying and, on occasion, pushing as far forward as he did.

While not having any post-game statistics to go by I would offer the possession-based timbataka was not as strong tonight.  And although Nanchoff brought more players into the game in the final 30 minutes the only real touch Piquionne had came at the end of the match when the Seattle Keeper completely misplayed a long ball; Piq took a shot as he was falling away sideways; but with little pace on it, Anibaba was able to clear it away.

Preseason continues and it looks like the lads came through this game without any serious knocks; that is good as they begin to make preparations for their next match against Indy Eleven (Brad Ring plays with them I think)…

And with the Indy Eleven match the last one before a return to JELD-WEN it is likely we will see some of the younger lads again since it appears Caleb will be relying on the preseason tournament in JELD-WEN to help him establish his starters for game one against Philadelphia.

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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