Portland Timbers

Stunners and Sitters – This game had it all… Timbers 4 Sounders 4

To be a fan of Major League Soccer outside of the Northwest must have been really a treat yesterday for those tuning into NBS Sports for a classic Cascadia clash between arguably two of the most entertaining teams in MLS. And to make my point on that thought here’s my tweet around the 87′ mark…

As a supporter of the Timbers first I was gut wrenched by the two late goals by Seattle but not surprised – Kip Kesgard and I had discussed at halftime about how much of a possession ping pong match this was and his thoughts were …’it’s like the last team who possesses the ball is the team with the best chance to win that game’…

Who’da thought we’d even consider that in a game of soccer… oh my.

Earlier in the match this is how I felt about what I was seeing…

So how exactly did this all start; in my pre-match thoughts I had opined that the key for Portland was to unlock the middle and take advantage of Anibaba… here’s my tweet prior to kick-off.

And even though the Timbers gave up the early goal to Seattle it didn’t take long for Chara and the Timbers to nail the slower and less effective center of Seattle.  And who’da thought (again) that it would be Chara leading the team with a brace of goals… I know I was surprised to see that as was a fellow buddy of mine, after considering our pre-game chat at Hot Lips Pizza…

So how exactly did this game turn sour for the Timbers…  here’s a few tweets of mine concerning Dempsey – who ended up with a Hat Trick as time expired…

This was offered up just before Chara nailed his second goal and Urruti got his…

Here’s my thoughts after Will Johnson took his knock to the thigh… about 5 minutes before Portland looked to have scored on that tight deflection going downwards off the crossbar by Paparatto’s header.

Here’s when I begin to see Dempsey dropping back into the middle of the pitch… this was at the 70′ mark…

Exactly… a litany of info on Dempsey – while some might disagree (and I have to acknowledge this as an analyst) the final 15+ minutes of this game was more about Dempsey stamping his influence in the match than the Timbers team defense crumbling.

And yes, it’s always easy to say Zemanski should have never come on for Darlington Nagbe but he did – and given the defensive nature of Zemanski the move seemed prudent.

The bitter pill here is not about Caleb Porter or Darlington Nagbe it’s how gutted, absolutely gutted a guy like Zemanski will be in the next few weeks…

I think Mike Donovan indicated Caleb Porter said this after the game …”’if I were head coach of Hindsight United’ I’d win every game…”’  noteworthy…

In closing…

If you missed reading a Match Recap on this aggressive possession-based game of penetration between two solid teams I suggest you read what Paul Danzer, with the Columbian Newspaper, had to offer here.

My intent on the late focus about Dempsey is two fold – 1) Individuals do influence the outcomes of games and 2) with the World Cup fast approaching a bigger picture view is all about seeing Americans adding grist and grit to make this game better in the United States.

And agreed – Dempsey has had a rough patch but his influence in this match is no different than the influence we are beginning to see more and more as other better players begin to filter into the MLS. Money plays a huge role in that and Seattle, along with New York, LA Galaxy and Toronto are teams that are digging deep with the intent to compete for greater opportunities…

The Timbers did not spend huge money last year (after getting burned by the complete waste on Boyd) but if the Goals Against continue (and I’m sure that rankles everyone on the Timbers) higher quality players are going to be needed to see this team through – higher quality usually means spending more money – the key is figuring out which players will perform at peak and which ones won’t – poker for Gavin Wilkinson has just gone up…

I for one have never been one to advocate spending big money on attacking players – my views are the midfield and defense as it’s defenses that regularly win championships… clean sheets are critical and if you are going to get into a shootout then there really needs to be a ‘stopper’ in the defense…

Last but not least – the key statistic for me today was “symmetry”…

  • Portland had 422 total passes while Seattle had 432;
  • PTFC had 75% passing accuracy – SSFC had 75% passing accuracy;
  • PTFC had 49.41% possession – SSFC had 50.59% possession;
  • PTFC had 20.44% penetration while Seattle had 23% penetration;
  • PTFC had 29% Shots Taken per penetration while SSFC had 29% Shots Taken per penetration;
  • PTFC had 67% Goals Scored per Shots on Goal while SSFC had 67% Goals Scored per Shots on Goal;
  • PTFC’s Attacking PWP Index was 2.7269 while SSFC’s Attacking PWP Index was 2.7233
  • Overall the Composite PWP Strategic Index for Portland was .0036 while it was -.0036 for Seattle.

At the end of the day what you saw was a draw and how the teams performed (statistically) was a draw… that’s a good thing when statistics can support what both the eye and the brain think they saw…

All the best,
Chris

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.