As noted in my pre-match analysis – this game would come down to how well Sporting KC defended.
And as noted by Caleb in the post-match quotes the Timbers went in there with the intent to absorb and defend – yield but don’t break… and that’s exactly what they did.
Sporting had the run of play and Portland scored the most goals – wicked good and well done!
I’m not sure about you but I continue to be pleasantly surprised by Taylor Peay; in speaking with his previous Head Coach in college (U-Dub – Jamie Clark) here’s what he had to say to me after Taylor made his debut in the previous match against Orlando U-23’s:
He’s a tweener of a CDF and RB. I know he’s played a lot of RB with the Timbers, but not sure that after a few years he will not end up as a CDF. Graceful stride, decent feet and tough on the tackle. Can be a bit rash in wide one v one defending situation and sometimes forces entry passes, but all things that will continue to get better and better.
He wants it and is willing to work for it so I think he will come good. He can get up and down the wing and with good passers which the Timbers have he can do a lot of his runs/attacking without the ball which will suit him.
Taylor again impressed last night – and the notable piece here for me is the exclusion of Alvas Powell in the starting 11 as well as his non-selection for the final 18. I wonder if he will rotate into the final 18 this Friday night?
If not, does this signal a move that Portland are beginning to move on from Powell and his stay may not be last much longer?
For me, there are many knowledge holes in the ‘loan’ process and how that future works remains a mystery – can a player on loan be traded or be waived? Does he take up an international slot while on loan? Perhaps others can offer comments that may answer those questions?
Anyhow – back to the game…
This time around I didn’t see Portland operating a single pivot like I thought they offered with Jack Jewsbury against Orlando – and as Caleb noted they looked to ‘control the game without the ball’… so a single pivot would not have been appropriate.
Also noted in the second half; I missed the first half – we saw Zakuani and Alhassan playing inverted winger roles (left footers on the right side and right footers on the left side). My thanks to Travis Oman (@toman1982) for answering my question that they didn’t start the first half that way.
This, for me, continues to be a trend I personally like to see – the more variation in ways to penetrate the box the better – and with Zakuani on his strong foot he went left (from the right side) dribbled past some guys and ended up seeing Collin bring him down for a PK… that tactical move paid big dividends!
One final observation – I noticed that Adi came on yesterday for Fernandez as opposed to Urruti – that is a slight change for Caleb as well – it may not translate back into regular season matches but, again, a slightly different mix of players that reveals additional flexibility; the greater the flexibility the more dangerous this team becomes.
And yes, I suppose you could view that as Caleb simply looking to save the legs of Gaston for Friday but with the video analysis these guys do – you can bet notes will be taken…
The Timbers Centerbacks continue to be a mystery – many opportunities for Sporting KC that went wanting in the end – with a couple of days to prepare and adjust hopefully that wall of defenders can continue to get better.
For now the stage is set for the next round of the US Open Cup!
There was a chance a couple of years ago for this match and Spencer blew it – Caleb got this team to this point and I expect a wicked, first class, top-flight match.
Two games remain between that head to head contest – short rest before this one on Friday – – and a huge away match against a pretty pissed off (and pissed on) LA Galaxy team…
If the World Cup wasn’t enough – wow – this next run of three games is really – really huge for Portland!
Next up – My pre-match for the game on Friday – after first making sure to follow up with another of my PWP articles on the World Cup – in case you missed my last one here’s a link to that article and my regular home page for all Major League Soccer analysis.