Portland Timbers Man of the Match: Goodbye 2012

Steve Dykes

The Timbers faced down the San Jose Earthquakes yesterday afternoon and came away with a draw thanks to tough defending and a tenacious attack that refused to quit.

In the lead up to last night's game, the Timbers were often asked about the possibility of Chris Wondolowski breaking the record for goals scored in a season in Major League Soccer. The team's answer was put best by rookie centerback Andrew Jean-Baptiste when he said, "Too bad."

In the end, Wondolowski did get on the board after Steven Lenhart went down in the box after getting the ball poked away by Donovan Ricketts. Wondo converted the penalty and tied the record, but the Timbers defense buckled down and kept Wondo under wraps for the remainder of the game.

The game against San Jose saw several players get on the pitch after long absences including Jean-Baptiste, Eric Alexander, and Kalif Kalif Alhassan. The returning players had their chances to impress, and some of them were taken, but some of the usual starters stood out as well in a stout defensive effort against a team that has scored more than twice as many goals as the Timbers on the season.

Our picks for Man of the Match:

Will - David Horst

In the stands, it seemed like everyone was just waiting for David Horst to murder someone, particularly Misters Wondolowski and Lenhart. In the end, everyone survived the match and David Horst did what we all wanted him to (blood-lust aside) and locked down the defense against the most prolific attack in the league. Horst made smart plays, good stops, and effectively neutralized Steven Lenhart's stupid hair all game. Jack Jewsbury may have been the captain all year, earning the right back even after questions were raised about others taking the arm band, but when he was given the chance Horst stepped up and lead the team.

Stacey - Steven Smith

Smith has given the Timbers the luxury of having a fullback who can contribute on offense without sacrificing good play on defense. He was great on both ends of the field last night. On defense he was tenacious, but also calm, looking for the pass out of the back instead of the hurried long ball to no one. At the other end, San Jose's defense was completely unable to shut down his crosses. Next season, the Timbers attack needs to learn to get to the box when Smith goes streaking up the sideline with the ball.

Geoff - David Horst

The entire defense aside from Kosuke Kimura's right back position was really solid tonight, but Horst really stepped up his game. I'm not sure if it was because of his captain's armband, or if it was something else, but he successfully muted both Steven Lenhart and Chris Wondolowski on multiple occasions. He also gave to Lenhart as much as he got, which is always nice to see.

Andy - Andrew Jean-Baptiste

Rhymes with "mother effing beast." And that's what he was. He was a constant bother to the San Jose attackers, and it was fun to watch them gape in amazement when they realized he's both huge and incredibly fast.

Ryan - Steven Smith

There was a huge difference between the two outside backs especially when they joined the attack. Steven Smith consistently hit early crosses which were dangerous and caused San Jose fits. Defensively he has come a long way since his early games and now you can rely on him to manage his side of the field even when the outside wing fails to come back. Smith's passing and movement was easily the most dangerous attacking asset Portland had all night.

There are our picks for Man of the Match, but what are yours? Be sure to cast your vote and let us know why in the comments.

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