Portland Timbers

The Cup runneth on… Timbers advance 3-nil over Orlando U-23’s…

The Capt. Obvious here is the Timbers move on to the next round – opponent to be determined; for a recap suggest you read and watch the video in this article

If you want other US Open Cup match recaps plus what Dan Itel offered up last night go here

For me – here’s my takeaways after watching the match last night…

Rodney Wallace got his first look-in last night at Providence Park after returning from surgery; and to be honest he looked pretty good. 

  • On numerous occasions his athleticism added value as the Timbers looked to penetrate past a higher defensive line of Orlando – think how Chivas USA plays and consider how his leaping ability affords that extra opportunity to flick-on a header to a more forward playing striker.
  • In addition; he’s simply quicker on getting behind the ball when the opponent has it – a REAL need for the Timbers in considering their need to maximize midfield support on the defensive wings.
  • And while I wouldn’t etch it in stone just yet, figure a healthy Wallace on the left side also gives Caleb Porter an option to run a signle pivot (Johnson or Chara) along with Adi, Fernandez, Nagbe and Valeri.
  • If running a double pivot then perhaps it’s Chara and Johnson alongside, in the back, with Adi, Nagbe, Wallace, and Valeri – in my view a more flexible option that includes bringing Fernandez, Zakuani and/or Urruti in given the game state (score-line).

Kalif Alhassan and Michael Nanchoff – while some may disagree with this, last night was a very good night for Michael Nanchoff and here’s why…

  • For the first time that I can remember Michael Nanhoff rotated to the right side of the pitch last night as an inverted winger; this is something Michael has probably been working towards to enhance his flexibility on the pitch.
  • And if you were watching closely I’d offer Michael put in at least five inverted-winger crosses (those are inswinging crosses – left footed – from the right side).
  • Those crosses, from that location, are very hard to defend – and are of great value when looking to penetrate two banks of four players (midfielders combined with defenders); think how Chivas USA recently played and how that flexibility might increase penetration into a higher stationed defensive scheme…
  • As for Kalif – in watching him last night he did very well at times – but like many of the players his passing accuracy was a bit off – where it wasn’t off was when he switched the run of play from left to right – a more focused Powell probably does a better job in controlling those balls and when Peay came on there was an uptick in those efforts.
  • But as much as it pains me to say it I sense Nanchoff is moving past Kalif in the pecking order – and with Fernandez, Zakuani, a healthy Wallace, Valeri, Urruti and Adi that puts 7 players, potentially, ahead of Kalif in the pecking order.
  • Perhaps some may disagree, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Kalif get traded in order to shore up the back-four – with the mid-season fast approaching and the have-nots becoming a bit more clear, maybe, just maybe, he gets moved?

In closing some final thoughts on the back-four and some options that may appear to be unfolding…

  • The striker from Orlando was too slow and not much of a threat to either O’Rourke or McKenzie, so there really isn’t any conclusion that can be drawn from that other than those two looked comfortable – and that should have been expected.
  • Michael Harrington looks to me as if he lacks confidence – and perhaps rightly so; there were times when he did a great job pushing forward in support but there were also times where his passing accuracy looked a bit out of sorts.
  • I offer this for one reason – in the MLS, the most players that get the most touches on the ball are usually fullbacks with perhaps one midfielder – given that large number of touches, passing accuracy (giving and recieving) is very critical to success.
  • I think Michael is better than what his form shows – and with that I’d offer it’s sometimes more about the confidence of the player – and trying to hard – than it is about their own individual skill set.
  • Hopefully we see more of Michael pairing up with Villafana as the starting fullbacks – more playing time will help him gain that flashy confidence and (elan)/(swagger) that has made him so valuable in the past.

Jack was back in the midfield last night and for all intents and purposes it looked to me as if Caleb was running a single pivot in lieu of the double pivot.  Might that initial dip into the fresh waters of a single pivot be an indicator?   I’m not sure but consider this…

  • Michael can offer inswingers from the right side and Valeri can offer outswingers from the right side…
  • Rodney can offer inswingers from the left side and Villafana can offer outswingers from the left side…
  • With Adi playing a target center forward that means either Fernandez or Darlington or a late charging Johnson can fill a gap created atop the 18 yard box for flick-ons, deft passes in confined spaces, rebounds and second chance balls.
  • All of this potential flexibility, in addition to the normal short-pass strategy that comes with Caleb’s overall system of play, will make this team even harder to defend against.

The Rookies…

  • First off – in my view it should be noted the order of appearance for the younger players last night – it may be a good way for others to see how Caleb ranks his younger lads.
  • For me it isn’t too far fetched to consider that the earlier the player appeared the higher up they are in the pecking order (i.e. – the harder they work to get better that “actually” translates to getting better).
  • Taylor Peay came on first, followed by George Fochive and then Schillo Tshuma – no Aaron Long.
  • Taylor Peay did a superb job in his role on the right – no comparison between him and Powell – two different players with two different strengths – from my view, in the crow’s nest, Peay looked to be in the right position every occasion – he pushed foward at the appropriate time and looked to do a great job in getting behnid the ball when in defense; solid…
  • George Fochive also did a superb job in his role last night – like Peay, he looked comfortable on the ball and played that ‘double pivot’ role in tandem with Jack Jewsbury – well done son!
  • A wee bit later Schillo Tshuma also got some minutes – I’m not sure where he fits in yet but as the formation developed, upon his entry, he worked up top and had a minimal role in how the attack developed.  Granted his time was limited but if he continues to show value in training he will continue to get better.

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.