Portland Timbers

A steady diet of Goat Cheese… Timbers take on Chivas Saturday Night

Most everyone hates using the phrase Statement Game but if there is one to be had this early in the season it’s this game for the Timbers…  and Goats…

To date the defense has been a roller-coaster ride with more lows than highs… last week we saw Alvas Powell open up at Right Fullback and of all the back-four the youngster was the most solid.

In case you missed it here’s my new weekly PWP recap from that match where Powell was my PWP Defensive Player of the Week and Diego Chara was the PWP Attacking Player of the Week.

If you want to see where Portland compares to all the other teams in MLS in Possession with Purpose read here.  In that link you can see my MLS pix for week six as well.

On to the pre-match grist…

My PWP Player to watch in Defense this week is Diego Chara; in looking at Whoscored.com here are some of his key statistics compiled so far this year plus some thoughts from that sight on his Strengths and Weaknesses:

PTFC KEY DEFENDING PLAYER VS CHIVAS USA

PTFC KEY DEFENDING PLAYER VS CHIVAS USA

Observations:

Why Diego Chara as opposed to a Center-Back or Fullback?

Because he’s the front man to help shut down traffic before it reaches the back-four; if he and Will Johnson, along with the other midfielders can’t support the back-four, then it’s likely Erick Torres could have a good day…

No-one wants to see another opponent get the chance of getting hat-trick – least of all Caleb Porter.

Note two critical things in the diagram from my viewpoint:

  1. Diego Chara (according to whoscored.com) has no weaknesses to go along with his strengths in tackling, dribbling, passing, concentration, and blocking the ball.
  2. Diego Chara is averaging 4.2 fouls per game this year when in each of the last three years he’s averaged between 1.88 (2011), 2.16 (2012) and 2.18(2013).

Here’s a diagram plotting his likely total number of fouls this year if he stays on average after the first five games…  (the purple line extending from the short green line is the projected forecast based on his average to date in 2014)…  the blue, green and red represent past year averages.

Diego Chara Fouls per Game

Diego Chara Fouls per Game

Moving on to the Attacking side of the pitch; my PWP Player to watch this game is Diego Valeri; for most that should be Capt. Obvious and so be it…

The Timbers need a visionary Valeri to eviscerate the vulnerable Goats… his individual stats provided by whoscored.com are also provided below for you consideration:

PTFC  KEY ATTACKING PLAYER VS CHIVAS USA

PTFC KEY ATTACKING PLAYER VS CHIVAS USA

Observations:

Just one goal for Diego so far this year and as the central attacking midfielder (playmaker) his passing accuracy can fluctuate from week to week given his vision sometimes outclasses the reactions of his teammates.

Timing and chemistry play a huge role here as familiarity needs to be at peak performance – with Gaston Fernandez newly added this year it is likely that timing will be a bit more sharp with Maxi Urruti spearheading the front line.

The tough part for Diego is tracking back in defense – not because he doesn’t do it but because his legs aren’t quite as fast as Darlington, Zakuani or Alhassan – hence – again – the importance of Chara and Johnson rotating left or right in support of the back-four…

With that a some thoughts in closing…

The defense has been much maligned so far this year with the exception of the match against Chicago (forgetting that PK for a minute) – hard to say who lines up in the center; with Donovan Ricketts returning between the pipes we might see the same back-four as last week.

If not it’s probably Futty Danso who gets the head nod – but is it Pa Madou-Kah or Norberto Paparatto who sits?  Or… is it Michael Harrington?

That’s a tough one… Paparatto’s passing has not been the best yet but he offers height and a regular ability to get his head to the ball.  Kah has strengths in passing but he loses his mental focus quite a bit and is fortunate he didn’t get a red card after that harsh, studs-up, tackle last week.

The balance is critical – if you check whoscored.com they rate Paparatto higher than Kah with Danso sandwiched in between… check the link here for that individual data for the Timbers.

To put things into perspective with Chivas, and just the rest of the West, here’s my PWP Defending Index after Week 5.

WESTERN CONFERENCE PWP DEFENDING INDEX AFTER 5 WEEKS

WESTERN CONFERENCE PWP DEFENDING INDEX AFTER 5 WEEKS

Most would not have expected to see Portland this far down the ladder in Defending given their stingy goals against last year…  if PWP is new to you here’s a link to read the Introduction along with a few explanations…

And if you think Chivas can’t score Torres has four goals this year and their overall PWP Attacking Index isn’t that far off from Portland…

WESTERN CONFERENCE PWP ATTACKING INDEX AFTER 5 WEEKS

WESTERN CONFERENCE PWP ATTACKING INDEX AFTER 5 WEEKS

This will not be an easy game… they never are in Major League Soccer…

Join me as I tweet my thoughts during the game at @chrisgluckpwp

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.