Portland Timbers

Portland, Pedestrian in Possession and Purpose Pulls one Point Vs Houston

Over the previous 7 games this year Portland had simply failed to control possession with top flight passing accuracy.

So if you thought the game was a bit boring or pedestrian at times consider this… Through the course of this season Portland had yet to eclipse the 80% passing accuracy hurdle.

Last year the Timbers surpassed or equaled that margin six times in the first eight games taking 13 points and averaging 1.75 goals per game.

And during their unbeaten run (from game 3 through to game 17) they had surpassed 78% passing accuracy 12 of the 15 games.

As for closing out last season – they surpassed 78% passing accuracy four times in their nine last games and in those four games they took three points twice and one point twice.

So is it worthy to offer that improved passing accuracy should help improve winning for Portland?

I think so and be it pedestrian possession or not; eventually that repeat-ability of passing will pay off.

So who was tops in passing accuracy Sunday and who needs more practice?

  1. Kah  61/72 = 85%
  2. Danso 63/66 = 95%
  3. Jewsbury 46/53 = 87%
  4. Harrington 50/60 = 83%
  5. Nagbe 35/38 = 92%
  6. Johnson 60/61 = 98%
  7. Alhassan 29/34 = 85%
  8. Chara 46/51 = 90%
  9. Nanchoff 8/8 = 100%
  10. Zakuani 0/0 = Nil
  11. Valeri 23/32 = 72%
  12. Fernandez  20/25 = 80%
  13. Urruti 3/4 = 75%

If Valeri has a lower passing accuracy percentage there may be a couple of things going; one of which has to do with what space and time he has to leverage his vision – the less space and time he has the less opportunity to use his vision to create the same level of chances we saw from all his assists last year.

So that means the chemistry and vision of others in offering the ball for Valeri probably needs to get better.

In considering the passing accuracy for Pa Madou Kah – as a center-back a clearance is not counted against (as a pass) so that difference between his level of accuracy and Danso is substantial – Kah needs to get better in possession.

Substitutes:

Nanchoff came in again this game and showed value – his accuracy and vision are strong, as is his left peg – more minutes like this may see him get even more playing time; perhaps even start!

How Zakuani fits is unclear – he didn’t get many minutes on Sunday but it’s interesting to see his was nil for nil in passes.  In short he came on but added no value other than giving someone a rest.

Urruti came on to replace Diego Valeri – and given the space and time that Diego Valeri had it probably wasn’t a bad idea to mix things a bit and try to get a quick counter with Maxi having fresh legs.

In closing…

DC United come to town this next weekend and they are known for being a possession based team.

They offer running a Diamond 4-4-2 ( 6 times out of 7 this year) but they also play over 18 crosses per game with about 4 (20%) of them being successful.  In short they line up narrow but they work the wings to play wide in penetrating the 18 yard box.

Against Dallas they threw 31 crosses into the box with 7 being successful.

So from a defensive training standpoint; especially since Houston scored off a cross, I would expect Kah, Danso, and Paparatto will work hard with Jewsbury, Harrington, Villafana, Powell, and Ricketts to communicate and close gaps that Johnson is likely to look for…

As a late edit; in case you missed it Will Conwell (Stumptownfooty) offered up what the Timbers practiced in an open training session today – passing in tight spaces and defending as a unit… you can read what he offered here

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.