Another road game and one I’d expect the Portland Timbers to win…
To try and answer that here’s some team defending characteristics of the Montreal Impact and how effective they are in defending at home:
- All told they are 4th worst in MLS in defending (as a team) at home.
- They yield over 56% possession against their opponents while seeing those same opponents average over 81% in passing accuracy (that is the highest opponent passing accuracy in MLS this year).
- With respect to penetration and creation of shots taken; all told opponents average 22% of their total possession in the Montreal final third. Of that percentage of possession the opponent averages generates over 16% of those completed passes into shots taken.
- While that’s not high the opponents are successful in converting those shots taken to goals scored over 38% of the time (6th worst as a defending unit in preventing shots on goal from being goals scored.
- All told the opponent, when visiting Montreal averages 1.56 goals per game – tied for the fourth highest average in MLS.
- It would be surprising if Portland didn’t score at least two, if not three goals.
So how about Portland, as a team, in attack on the road?
- In away games the Timbers have the 6th most potent team attack in MLS.
- All told they average slightly more than 50% of the possession with an average passing accuracy just under 81%. 2nd best in MLS.
- When it comes to penetration and creation of shots taken Portland average the third lowest amount of overall penetration of away teams in MLS and the 7th lowest amount of shots taken per penetration.
- Basically what that means is Portland is patient in their penetration and creation of shots taken.
- That patience has paid off in that over 45% of their shots taken wind up on goal and over 25% of those shots on goal end up as goals scored for an average of 1.22 goals per game.
- It really doesn’t matter who starts in attack; be it Adi versus Urruti or any three of these five guys (Darlington Nagbe, Diego Valeri, Gaston Fernandez, Steve Zakuani, or Rodney Wallace).
- Any three of those players can play the appropriate role needed while also considering defense first when required; though I would offer that Diego and Gaston are probably more tuned to attack than defense.
- Given that – and the need to get three points I’m a bit hesitant to offer that both Gaston and Diego would start at the same time (though they have before).
- Leaving one of those guys on the bench, along with either Adi or Urruti always adds value if the game state warrants a change in the second half.
- Think of the Adi/Urruti decision like this – Adi adds physical strength and presence as value while playing a target role while Urruti adds speed, pressure and nimble presence as value.
- Two different dimensions both capable of taking advantage of tired legs as the game wears on.
- Montreal also cede possession at home and Portland look to dominate possession on the road… works to the favor of Portland.
- Montreal opponents have high percentages of passing accuracy and Portland offers a very high level of passing accuracy; this also works to the favor of Portland.
- All told the Timbers should be pretty comfortable in moving the ball in and around and outside the Montreal defending Final Third.
- What will be critical is the space they create in order to put those shots taken past Perkins.
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