Playoffs still Possible for Portland…

Like many I was exhausted after the game Friday night – so close…  yet just not there.

Still a chance though – and I’ll be hanging by that thin thread for another week hoping that the Timbers advance…

That said, I’d like to get on the bandwagon about how fruitful the attack was Friday night – but I won’t.

Even though the chances were many it was a result we’ve seen all too often at Providence Park this year.  And while some may disagree I think there were too many chances!

Is that possible?

A tough question to answer but on a good number of occasions I found myself tweeting that a bit more patience, an earlier pass, or a slow down of play in some areas might – just might – have seen a better result (a win).

So like it or not – I’m going to piss on the proverbial bonfire for a few minutes and peel the statistical onion back just a wee bit to drive home the point of patience and how patience in penetration and possession is Portland’s real gig and not the fast and furious activity we saw Friday night.

So here goes… Home games is the primary filter…

The scary part – the more passes attempted in the Attacking Final Third this year the less likely the Timbers are to win – that’s right…

Adi looking to Make Space

After playing 17 games at home this year the higher the total volume of Final Third Passes offered the less likely the Timbers are to win…

The correlation (R2) is (-.47).  It’s not a superb relationship but with it being a negative number near (-.50) it means more possession and penetration into the final third drives fewer points earned from a game.

So what?  

Well this means there is greater potential for the Timbers to win (the objective of every game) if they show more patience in penetration, and possession leading to penetration.

Many will argue statistics can be made to prove many different things – true – but these statistics are unfiltered, and I’m not looking to have the statistics confirm my personal view – I’m looking at the statistics to see what they offer.

So in considering the excitement and stunning quick pace of last nights game it should not come as a surprise that the Timbers didn’t win…

And yes, even when looking at Shots Taken the relationship is still negative (more ended up with the Timbers getting less).

Urruti looking to Make Space

The best team indicator this year has been Shots on Goal versus Shots Taken – the closer that team percentage comes to 50% the better; last night they hit just 30%.

In the five games won at home three of those five games saw that percentage hit or exceed 50%; only twice (DC United and Chivas USA) did the Timbers win a game and not have greater 50% of their shots taken go on goal.  But both those games saw the percentage higher than 30%.

Again, what this means is that more time, more space, and more patience suit the Timbers better; bottom line here is fast and furious is not a friend – it’s a foe.

In thinking about Friday night one player comes to mind who seemed a bit too hasty on the ball too often – Alvas Powell…

Chara and Powell after the Match

Granted Alvas is young, and it’s that youth and speed that is his strength; but along with that strength there is a weakness…

And on the right side it seemed that weakness showed more often than his strengths.

In reviewing my twitter thoughts, there were a number of times where I considered his passes as being either too early, too late, or simply not made…

This isn’t intended to pick on Alvas – with time and experience he will be better – but with this being a team game I think he needs to rely more on the others around him to help those individual penetrations lead to better opportunities.

However viewed, he played his heart out – as did everyone else on the team… even if they didn’t influence the game as much as you thought they should.

Darlington Nagbe trying to Catch his Breath

And yes, perhaps some of the blame on not scoring can be pointed at Nick Rimando, given his play last night…


But the general statistics supporting the view of more is less simply outweigh, in my opinion, the play of Rimando…

You may disagree but the Timbers did have seven shots blocked by defenders last night – not Rimando.  And usually a high number of blocked shots indicates the shots are hurried and offered up where there is little time and little space.

And as much as some folks poo-poo statistics the correlation of shots blocked to points is also negative (R2 = -.41) – again reinforcing that a bit more patience may have suited things better…

However viewed the entertainment value was there – as has been the case with every game this year.  …if you’re a neutral fan you probably saw this as being one of the best nil-nil games ever… for me?  Not!

Provided by Steven Lenhart

Provided by Steven Lenhart

In Closing:  A few positives….

Timbers Solid in their Defending

The Timbers had another clean sheet – this shouldn’t get lost in the shuffle – they had to keep Real Salt Lake out of the net and they did.

A good confidence builder for next weekend against one of the better counter-attacking teams in MLS.

With this result the Timbers can remain hopeful that there’s still a chance.

Granted it’s unlikely Colorado defeat Vancouver – but there is always a chance for a draw.  With that draw, and a Timbers win, Portland makes the Playoffs!

And if in the Playoffs, with a win at Dallas, that means the Timbers will have taken more points on the road than at home (25 to 24) – an even better confidence boost with both teams being on short rest…

All for now; Best, Chris

PS:  In case you missed it – the photographs for this article were provided by Steven Lenhart.  I’m pleased to say we will be working a bit more together in the near future.  Thanks for these great pictures Steven!

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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, PTFC Collective and Prost Amerika.

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