Sporting KC turn the tables on Timbers
In a home and home (so-to-speak) Sporting KC came into Portland and shut down the Timbers attack; that’s not an easy thing to do but coming against one of the better defensive teams in MLS it shouldn’t come as a surprise.
Why? Well Sporting KC have always been pretty good when it comes to defending – last year they were tops in my Defending Possession with Purpose and this year they are ranked 2nd, behind LA Galaxy (the next Timbers opponent).
As for the Timbers, last year they were ranked 2nd behind Sporting, but this year they are ranked 10th.
I’d imagine the expectations, by some, for Liam Ridgewell to come in and solve all the back-four issues are pretty high.
For me, I’m not convinced – I think the improvement in defending needs to start with the midfield and how the new combination at fullback goes with Harrington on the right side and Villafana on the left side.
All this plus a more switched on Donovan Ricketts – I’m not sure why this year but sometimes I’m seeing stellar play and then sometimes some pretty questionable moves that are a bit nerve wracking – perhaps others have a different view?
In moving on… we all know the scoreline for this game so I decided to check out some home and away stats on the Timbers opponents when they win, lose or draw.
For what it is worth, in the one home game, when the Timbers won, their opponent (DC United ) had the majority of their unsuccessful passes outside the Timbers defending third (76%).
In all games where the Timbers have drawn the opponent has averaged 63% of their unsuccessful passes outside the Timbers defending third.
In games they’ve lost (SKC and VWFC) the opponent has averaged 54% of their unsuccessful passes outside the final third.
In other words, the more unsuccessful passes, outside the defending third of the Timbers, by the opponent, the more likely the Timbers are to win or draw.
Put this way (at home) the higher the Timbers press and close down the opponent outside their own defending third the more likely they are to win.
It’s just the opposite on the road…
When traveling, (and winning) Timbers opponents average 52% of their unsuccessful passes outside the Timbers defending third 52%.
When getting a draw on the road (Houston) the Dynamo average unsuccessful passes outside the Timbers final third was 65% and the opponent average unsuccessful passes outside the Timbers defending final third is 60%.
In other words the more unsuccessful the opponent is in completing passes ‘within the Timbers defending final third’ the more likely the Timbers are to win on the road.
Put this way (in away games) the lower the Timbers press and close down the opponent outside their own defending third the more likely they are to win.
This is not me manipulating the data – it’s strictly what the averages indicate…
If, indeed, the Timbers outcomes are related to these data outputs then I’d venture to offer that in order for the Timbers to win in LA this next week they will cede possession and look for a quick counter.