Champion’s League – Huge Win!!!

In a season of good game, bad game, great attack, and no-one in the back, it’s welcoming to see the Portland Timbers win this game.

Unlike some others I thought this game was THE most important game this week – including the one coming up against Vancouver – or the earlier game against Colorado.

Here’s why – the revenue, prestige, visibility, and overall tenor of the organization making it to the next round of the Champions League is what any organization needs to do to increase its influence – it’s results like these, that work to help bring in better players too.

Of course, like all of us not privy to detailed video analysis, it’s hard to gauge what level of personnel may be needed to ensure a win while also not throwing out chances of winning against Colorado or Vancouver.

In that the phrase – in Caleb we trust – should be noteworthy and fully supported.

And like most everyone in this City, I trust Caleb and his judgment/understanding of the game and what’s needed to win.

The hesitation I have, and even as a Head Coach myself, is the ability of the players to perform on the day.

I don’t offer that lightly for this year – there have simply been too many mistakes, at the wrong time, where the Timbers have come out on the bad end of the stick.

And with that comes frustration; so be it.

Now for a few closing thoughts on the internals of the game…

I really can’t see Kalif Alhassan being long for this organization – he might add some value (given his current salary) but it took him at least 3 to 4 times to finally figure out that he wasn’t going to dribble-drive past that opposing fullback last night.  And even after he (might?) have figured that out he still tried to do it in his own defending half.

You may have missed it but somewhere around the 30 minute mark he was switched from the right side to the left side.  A significant move in my opinion and here’s why.

  • I asked Caleb Porter earlier this year if playing Michael Nanchoff as an inverted winger (left footed player playing on the right side) was in ‘his wheelhouse’.  Caleb responded by saying no, Nanchoff playing as an inverted winger doesn’t work to his strengths.
  • So when Kalif gets moved to the left side a few things are being confirmed…  1) Kalif was ineffective in his role on the right, 2) Nanchoff, even if he’s not completely developed to play as an inverted winger, is being asked to expand his role and take on those additional responsibilities, and 3) Kalif – being on the left side now is actually, physically, closer to Caleb…
  • As a Head Coach in youth – I found there is great value in having a weaker player closer to you on the pitch – allows for more timely control and monitoring… (reinforcing what needs to get done that isn’t being done!)
  • Finally, when Kalif went down with an apparent injury – and only about one minute remained – Caleb Porter did not wait to substitute Kalif at half-time, he quickly put Rodney Wallace in with almost no hesitation.

Darlington Nagbe – an intriguing game for Darlington last night.  Here’s my take…  He did a great job of just being there – in the game last night he really didn’t need to inject his direct influence – Rodney Wallace, Will Johnson, Gaston Fernandez, Jack Jewsbury, Michael Harrington, and Maxi Urruti were already doing that.

In my view it was a very good, non-game, for Darlington who came on and spelled Michael Nanchoff who also, in my opinion, played a very good game.

Reference the discussion mentioned above with Caleb Porter about Michael and playing inverted winger – that’s not an easy role to take on – but it’s an important role because it gives the Timbers greater flexibility moving forward.  Well done Michael – on both sides of the ball.

Next up Vancouver…

The destiny of the Portland Timbers rests with themselves; the defense isn’t the best but the game still must be played.

One can hope for a clean sheet but, for me, I simply hope the Timbers score more goals than the Whitecaps…

I’d expect a high paced game with action on both sides of the pitch… it’s a home game for Portland and if ever a time was needed to behave and execute a game with precision and purpose (with the voice of the Timbers Army throughout the full 90+ minutes) it’s Saturday afternoon…

May the sun be forever in the eyes of Vancouver… blind them with brilliance!

Best, Chris

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, PTFC Collective and Prost Amerika.

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