COMMERCE CITY, CO - MARCH 19: Kenny Cooper #33 of the Portland Timbers reacts after scoring a goal against the Colorado Rapids at Dicks Sporting Goods Park on March 19, 2011 in Commerce City, Colorado. The Rapids defeated teh Timbers 3-1. (Photo by Michael Martin/Getty Images)
Welcome to a new series I plan on writing at the end of each and every MLS week from here until the end of the play-offs. Seeing as how we are such an important part of the Cascadia soccer landscape, we are almost connected with both of our northern neighbors as well. How they perform and play will have an almost direct effect on our standings, performance, and morale. As such, even though you might not be able/want to watch the Vancouver Whitecaps and Seattle Sounders each week, I believe it's important to at least digest how they performed.
Here was the schedule for this past week:
- Los Angeles Galaxy @ Seattle Sounders, 1 - 0 (LA)
- Toronto FC @ Vancouver Whitecaps, 2 - 4 (Vancouver)
- Seattle Sounders @ New York Red Bulls, 0 - 1 (New York)
- Portland Timbers @ Colorado Rapids, 1 - 3 (Colorado)
Surprisingly, the Vancouver Whitecaps were the only ones to pull a victory this week. Let's break it down.Los Angeles Galaxy @ Seattle Sounders
An overtly chippy game throughout the night, I actually thought both teams played fairly well for the first game of the season with the Seattle Sounders actually coming away with more goal chances than Los Angeles throughout the first and second half. This game was, however, decided by two players: Los Angeles keeper Josh Saunders and ineffective Seattle striker O'Brian White. Saunders was huge for Los Angeles and blocked some good chances by Fredy Montero, who, as usual, created chances out of thin air. O'Brian White, however, missed some painfully easy shots.
In the end a 59th minute goal by Galaxy midfielder Junihno gave Los Angeles the slim lead they needed to bring home their first win of the season, despite David Beckham's awful performance.
Fredy Montero is still Seattle's best striker, although his unfortunate pairing with O'Brian White leaves their striking prowess limp, at best for the moment.
Toronto FC @ Vancouver Whitecaps
Where to begin with this game? Well, first, neither team played very well, in my opinion. The technical skill in this game was weak, at best with most players lobbing the ball around most of the time. The ultimate decider here was which team's defense was ultimately weaker and, as usual, Toronto FC takes the crown allowing the first goal within the first 15 minutes of play. The player I'm most worried about on Vancouver's team right now is their newly signed Designated Player Eric Hassli who came away from the game with two goals. That kind of confidence could be dangerous.
The game ultimately ended in a 4 - 2 win for Vancouver over their Canadian rivals, with defensive gaffs on both sides playing a key role in the game.
Portland Timbers notes: We play Toronto FC on Saturday, however, we should not look to this as a game in hand. Just because Vancouver bested them easily doesn't mean they remain this way forever. Vancouver exposed the weaknesses and now they'll be patching those weaknesses prior to our game.
Vancouver Whitecaps DP, Eric Hassli, has skill, no doubt about it, although it remains to be seen how well he'll be able to stand up to a competent defensive backline.
Seattle Sounders @ New York Red Bulls
Exciting game actually. New York came out of the gate hard and fast with chances coming from Thierry Henry and Juan Agudelo. In fact, I'm honestly surprised we didn't see a goal within the first 15 minutes of this game, especially given that Thierry Henry was given a penalty kick in the 8th minute of the game due to a stupidly reckless foul by John Kennedy Hurtado against Agudelo. Luckily for Seattle, they have Kasey Keller in goal who is no stranger to stopping PKs, even from world renowned strikes like Henry. Ultimately, Juan Agudelo managed to slip through the Seattle defense in the 70th minute to score a fantastic goal. Seattle's Hurtado was, once again, responsible for the mishap.
Seattle's second loss in a single week, the only consolation here for the team is that each were against teams that are arguably outspending everybody else.
Portland Timbers notes: New York's Agudelo is going to be huge for New York this year. He's a small, speedy striker who also happens to be gifted technically at the same time as being trained/mentored by Thierry Henry. Huge red flag around this guy.
Portland Timbers @ Colorado Rapids
You know the story here as we've written about it from two different perspectives here. I won't go into the details, but I will say that we went into this game knowing it was going to be a damn difficult match. Colorado had everything going for them: confidence of playing an "expansion" team, confidence coming off a 2010 victory, altitude, Conor Casey/Omar Cummings pairing, few (if any) injuries.This would have been a great victory had we drawn the game, the fact that we lost should shouldn't be all that surprising.
Portland Timbers notes: The bright spot here is that our striking duo up top performed fairly well given the circumstances. Jorge Perlaza had some nice tricks up his sleeve and proved he could create chances even when pressured. Kenny Cooper, on the other hand, remained calm and confident throughout the match. He was able to score his first goal which should help bring up his confidence even more.
Hope you enjoyed this week's Cascadia review. This is a work in progress and I'll be constantly reviewing and changing the format to see what works best.