A walk in the Park – not likely…
For those thinking or feeling this game could go exactly like the 3-nil win against Vancouver last weekend it may be worthy to consider a couple of things.
San Jose like to play more direct than Vancouver – all told their average percentage of successful passes in the opponents defending final third is 6% points lower than Vancouver.
What’s that translate to?
It usually means they are quicker to make an attempt at penetrating – increased quantity, in the MLS, usually means decreased quality.
So the attack for San Jose will be different – which then means the defending approach for Portland needs to be slightly different.
Not different in terms of players but different in what areas will need to be closed down quicker in order to prevent successful penetration and shot generation.
As such the right midfielder/forward and right central midfielder will need to be better engaged/quicker in getting near the ball for second chance rebounds and deflections when the game flow works left to right.
And just the opposite for when the game flow works right to left.
From an attacking standpoint – San Jose is no slouch in defending – everybody has trouble defending LA Galaxy but in looking at most games this year San Jose are one of the better teams in defending.
Here’s a recent analysis on San Jose through Week 22 – as you can see they are pretty far up the Index in team defending.
As for now here’s how they stack up in the overall Defending PWP Index compared to Portland:
All said and done DEFENSE must remain the priority for the Timbers – working from the back – forwards last week saw Vancouver cede time and space due to impatience in trying to “over-create”.
Portland can’t afford to fall into the trap that Vancouver did – we all know Chris Wondolowski is wicked good on second chance balls and counter-attacking – with longer balls is likely.
Here’s hoping Portland can continue to get three points and march on-wards to the playoffs.