Portland Timbers

Rosy in the Rose City with that convincing win against Chivas?

I’m not convinced it’s all Rosy in the Rose City – and while some might call this a comprehensive win, and get all pumped that Portland took care of business, let’s not forget this was Chivas USA.

The bottom line for me was the Timbers should have won and they did win… and they got a clean sheet as well.

But… let’s be honest —> Chivas USA are a doormat – their owners have abandoned ship and their players are basically struggling to find motivation on just what they are playing for this season.

That might not be fair given any team can almost beat any other team in MLS on a given weekend – but seriously…  Chivas USA are NOT a good team…

This isn’t digging at their Head Coach – it’s a reflection of their non-existent organization and management… when management and the organization fold up the tables and leave the players do as well…

So how about the outputs of this game?

In considering the pre-match targets; here’s what I offered as some reasonable targets (mid-season averages) the Timbers should have expected to achieve in this game:

  • ~53% possession
  • ~78% passing accuracy across the entire pitch
  • ~71% passing accuracy within the Chivas defending Final Third
  • ~3 to 4 goals scored
  • Clean sheet in defense
  • Three points

The Timbers ended up with these final outputs:

  • ~52% possession
  • ~75% passing accuracy across the entire pitch
  • ~61% passing accuracy within the Chivas defending Final Third
  • 2 goals scored
  • Clean Sheet
  • Three points

All told, just two of the targets were hit… granted no complaints really…especially since the last one is really the one that matters.

Nevertheless – if the Timbers expect to compete for the Playoffs then consistency in passing accuracy, within the Final Third, needs to be better.

More completed passes generates more time and space to generate more shots taken, and in turn more shots on goal, and more goals scored.

And it won’t be every game where you will see such a stunning individual display of attacking talent that we saw last night from Diego Valeri… wow – goal of the week anyone?

As for the clean sheet against Chivas?

Given that Chivas are the WORST attacking team in Major League Soccer it would have been extremely disappointing if Portland had conceded a goal…

So how does this help set the conditions for the remainder of the season?

To be honest I was very surprised Danny O’Rourke got the head nod to start at right fullback – but in seeing the attacking scheme it seemed to work.

Most likely Danny got the start this weekend to help save Jack Jewsbury’s legs for next weekend against New England – and then (perhaps?) we see a return of Danny in the Timbers first Champions League match against Alpha United.

In watching Norberto Paparatto and Liam Ridgewell pair up in the center – for most of the first half and a better part of the second half they did do well together…

But… in case you missed it.  The Timbers went back to their old ways of conceding fouls in their own defending third; six of them…

Against New England and Alpha United it is likely they get punished more severely for that – so while they got a clean sheet the volume of set-pieces was really… unacceptable…

And it’s also that haunting reminder that the defensive positional play of the midfield was not ideal!

The central defending midfielders:

I thought Diego Chara had a stellar game on both sides of the pitch – well done Diego…

I won’t offer the same for Will Johnson however; he seems to have lost an edge to his timing on occasion and his passes seem to drift/wander a bit at times… as the Captain of this team he needs to step it up three or four notches…

In Closing…

Baby steps won’t do now – with a healthy back-four the timing and positional play simply needs to be tighter and better.

Sorry, I’m simply not convinced, nor overwhelmed, that the Timbers won or got a clean sheet against Chivas… relieved is more like it… it is what it is; perhaps others view it differently?

A superb test comes up next weekend – New England are one of the hardest teams to beat at home

And like Portland, they are clawing for every point they can get given their mid-season swoon.

Expect a grind… especially knowing that an even more critical game for Portland takes place, away, three days later in their first ever Champions League match…

Best, Chris

Retweets welcomed…

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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.