Anyone want to hug it out? Mike Chabala and Portland exorcise some demons
The Portland Timbers play their best half of the year and take it to the Los Angeles Galaxy and go into the locker room up 2-0. However much to everyone's surprise Portland finishes a game and wins 3-0. Best game of the season.
With Portland mired in a streak it was as if this game came at the wrong time for Portland. Even the warm-ups had some negative mojo as Eddie Johnson, who was selected to start, got a concussion and was unable to play. John Spencer then had to insert everyone's punching bag Kenny Cooper.
The start of the game saw both sides come out a little tentative in the first couple minutes of the game as they exchanged long balls. Portland was the first to shake off the tentativeness and get into the attack, surprisingly through the play of Kenny Cooper as he held the ball up and also won balls in the air towards his strike partner Jorge Perlaza. Not only did Cooper find Perlaza but everyone else did too.
Ball after ball was played behind LA's defense and almost every time Perlaza beat the seemingly slow defenders in a foot race. Once the ball was won Perlaza put his head down and headed for goal, if we would have looked up he would have seen oncoming attackers but at least he did get a shot off a couple of times.
Portland continued to sustain their attacking pressure and really kept LA in check. Each time Portland came down the field they looked calm and composed as if they actually were playing the game and not thinking the game. Not only was the interplay between Perlaza and Cooper great but Mike Chabala and Darlington Nagbe showed amazing interplay as they worked the right side of the field.
Throughout the first 20 mins of the game Portland really forced LA on their heels and won balls deep in LA's half. This pressure really made it easy for Portland to defend LA as they continually had to play long balls to their forwards, who never won a ball against David Horst or Eric Brunner. Even the pairing of Deigo Chara with James Marcelin handled LA's dynamic play making midfielder.
As good as Portland was playing they still had not had a solid chance on goal. However that all changed in the 26th minute as Cooper won a ball deep in LA's half that allowed Portland to get forward. The ball finally found Chabala who hit it wide to Nagbe, who hit a great leading ball to Chabala who hits the ball on frame. The ball took a slight deflection and beat Josh Saunders. It is hard to describe the goal, the build up was so beautiful. By far the best goal during the run of play for the Timbers.
The goal really energized the crowd and the Timbers. LA however looked to possess the ball and wanted to impose their will on the game but the Timbers were up to the challenge. They handled everything LA threw at them. They handled it so well they were able to double their lead in the 33rd minute.
Mike Chabala threw a great throw-in to Cooper who laid it off to Chara. Chara then hit a ball into the middle of the field for Perlaza. Watching it I thought LA almost looked like they were in slow-mo as they all watched the ball. Perlaza did not as he beat Sean Franklin to the ball and hit it first time into the back of the net.
For the next 10 minutes of the game Portland looked a little tired and slowed down on the attack but the quality of defense did not falter as they saw the lead into the locker room.
By far the first half was the best half the Timbers had played all year. They even out shot LA 9-0 in the first half and not once did you hear Landon Donovan's name associated with a dangerous play in the first half. David Beckham was only mentioned when he hit a corner or a free kick.
The start of the second half saw LA make two changes to bring on 2 strikers and to move Donovan and Beckham out wide to try and expose the Portland defense. It looked like it was going to pay off for the first 5 minutes of the Half as Portland looked a little confused and out of sync. Portland did figure it out and they started to absorb the pressure and counter attack, especially with Sal Zizzo.
For the next 10 minutes of the game both teams had chances but none of them were solid goal scoring opportunities. However Portland did have some scares but LA lacked quality in the final third. In fact Portland was content to cede most of the possession of the ball from the 61st minute on to the Galaxy. Portland still looked to attack but it was a much more measured attack.
This attack won them a corner in the 68th minute and without Captain Jack Jewsbury in the game Sal Zizzo stepped up to hit it. Boy did he hit a beautiful in swinger of a corner. The ball found a wide open Eric Brunner who had beat Franklin, yes the same Franklin who got beat numerous times by Perlaza (even for a goal). Brunner this time did not hit the post like he did against Toronto but buried it in the back of the net.
The goal was exactly what Portland needed with 20 minutes to go and instead of hanging onto a lead Portland increased it. Credit to LA as they continued to work had and pushed for a goal. However Portland just put 9 players behind the ball and stayed compact. LA was forced to only play crosses into the box which Portland handled. Perkins was only called upon to make a routine save in the 70th minute on a long range shot straight at him.
LA really did not have another good chance on goal, even a David Beckham free kick did not bother Troy Perkins as it never made it to him. The only big news was the 5th yellow Chara picked up in the 84th minute which gives him a suspension for the next game.
Portland saw out the win and the shutout in front of a great crowd. Great feeling and by far the best game of the year.
What are your thoughts? Feelings? Also look for my quotes stats and links all about this game tomorrow morning.
- Exactly what Portland needed
- Cooper had his best game since RSL
- The Nagbe and Chabala combination is amazing
- Perlaza played his best game as he really put pressure on LA
- Portland needs to keep this Momentum now
- Revenge game having lost 3-0 to them away!
- Sal Zizzo really played well defensively and offensively