The Portland Timbers finally pulled off something nobody thought they would this year: the elusive road win.
It's been a turbulent season for Portland Timbers fans. What with the firing of head coaches, trading away of fan favorite players, and the general lameness of the current squad. The fact that they weren't able to win on the road was a consistent scab that was constantly picked open upon each successive road loss. The commentary afterwards was just salt in the wound.
So when the Portland Timbers finally managed to pull it off this past weekend, it was a momentous occasion! The fact that they earned their first road win AND managed to win the Cascadia Cup trophy? Well you can certainly understand why so many Timbers fans were elated afterwards...
But the team as a whole is one thing, let's see just how well each player managed during what could be argued was the Timbers most important game this season:
Donovan Ricketts - 7
Will: Ricketts only faced one shot on the night, two if you count Steven Smith's amazingly mishit clearance, but it was his fantastic aerial presence that locked down the box for the Timbers and allowed the defense to stay calm when the pressure from the Whitecaps rose. The Timbers have not seen many shutouts this season, but this was a big one from the big Jamaican.
Kosuke Kimura - 4
Stacey: On the one hand, it was impressive to see him playing so physically Sunday. He seemed twice his normal size at times. On the other hand, I think he was lucky not to give up a pk or a dangerous free kick. He was also downright exasperating going forward, making bad passes and ruining good passes from his teammates with bad touches.
David Horst - 6
Andy: A man of the match candidate for sure, Horst played hard and smart against Vancouver, with just a couple of lapses that thankfully did not result in goals. Kenny Miller was nowhere to be found during most of the game, largely due to Horst's handling. And, bonus, the Timbers actually drew an offside call, something Portland fans are quite unaccustomed to seeing.
Hanyer Mosquera - 6
Andy: Mosquera and Camilo exchanged a lot of unpleasantness throughout the course of the match, both of them receiving yellow cards in the process, and while Mosquera had to leave the game early due to injury, I'd say he still won this round.
Steven Smith - 4
Stacey: Smith ended up having Vancouver's best chance of the night when he tried to clear the ball out for a corner and instead kicked it right at Ricketts' goal. He seemed shaky the whole rest of the first half, though he looked decent when he got involved in the offense. He settled in more on defense in the second half, even when he was paired up against the speedy Dane Richards.
Jack Jewsbury - 7
Will: All year Timbers fans have predicated conversations about the difference between last year's performance and this year's with, "Well, Jack was scoring then..." and it is true, last year Jewsbury played the savior on more than one occasion. With that in mind it is only fitting that as the Timbers try to get out of a slump that has had us all wondering what happened to our team, Captain Jack should come to the rescue. After Gavin Wilkinson called for players to roll up their sleeves and get tough Jewsbury did, not just scoring a goal but helping to organize the defense and control the midfield as the Timbers held on to their first road victory. This was exactly what the team needed from its captain.
Diego Chara - 6
Geoff: Chara did pretty much everything we now expect him to do in a game, but little else.
It He made the tackles that were needed in the midfield and put pressure on Vancouver when they looked like they were getting dangerous, but overall seemed to not be quite as impact-ful as we've come to expect. Perhaps it's just a side effect of the rest of the team playing better requiring him to do less. Hats off to him, however, for not getting a yellow card and successfully delaying the game late in the second half stoppage time.
Darlington Nagbe - 5
Andy: Nagbe had a decent game - a step up from some of his recent performances - but some credit must be given to the Vancouver midfield for being at best lazy and at worst completely absent on defense. Still, he took his opportunities well, made good runs off the ball, and once again contributed some excellent defense, which this season has gone from being a serious liability to being one of his strengths on the pitch.
Sal Zizzo - 5
Stacey: Made good use of all the space Vancouver allowed him to send some decent crosses in front of Knighton's goal. Other than the goal, the Timbers' best scoring chance of the game came when Zizzo lofted in a cross that Dike headed down, forcing a save from Knighton. Zizzo then immediately dispossessed Gershon Koffie to give the Timbers another chance. Unfortunately, too often his crosses failed to connect with his teammates.
Franck Songo'o - 5
Stacey: Songo'o was actually much better about getting rid of the ball earlier, which led to a couple chances for the Timbers, like when he chipped the ball over the Vancouver defense for Dike. He also perfectly teed up the ball for Jack's goal.
Bright Dike - 5
Will: Dike was not the most involved in play, but it was not for a lack of trying. The service just wasn't making its way up front to him, but Dike continued making runs and hassling his opponents until he was subbed late in the game. When the ball did make it's way to him, Dike did well with it, either holding the ball up for teammates who were slow to arrive (very slow by the second half) or turning his man and making a shot out of nothing.
Eric Brunner - 4
Stacey: Although he did fine and didn't make any major mistakes, Brunner just isn't his old self yet. He slipped, he got tackled off the ball in the Timbers' defensive third, and he made a couple very awkward clearances.
Rodney Wallace - 4
Will: Wallace came on to provide some cover to Steven Smith, who looked uncharacteristically shaky on defense for much of the first half. Unfortunately, he repeatedly over committed on defense, leaving gaping holes for Vancouver to attack through.
Danny Mwanga - N/A
Will: Mwanga made a couple of good decision to hold up the ball and maintain possession during his brief stint on the pitch rather than going at defenders and possibly giving the ball up. It might not have been the goal scoring bonanza that we hope for from every player all the time, but it was smart play and not something that the Timbers have done well this year.
What do you think of the player ratings? Where would you have placed each player?