HOUSTON - MAY 15: Head coach John Spencer of the Portland Timbers yells at his players in the first half against the Houston Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium on May 15, 2012 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
The Portland Timbers played against the Houston Dynamo yesterday in their brand new, sparkley stadium BBVA Compass Stadium. The good news here is that the Timbers did not, in fact, lose which is great! A draw away from home is actually an alright thing to get. Granted a win is always better and the Timbers are definitely in need of a solid three points from a game, but given the circumstances with the new stadium and everything I'll notch this closer to the "win" column...
In any case, here are our player ratings for last night's game:
Troy Perkins: 9
Man of the match, as usual. While the defense is definitely starting to shape up, it's scary to think what the Timbers record would look like without this man. Some iffy distribution keeps him from a perfect score.
Jack Jewsbury: 6
Andy's Rating: 8 - Two huge game saving save of the week candidates and the resulting clean sheet give him a 10. Not being able to keep the ball on the field when he boots it forward takes two points away.
Another solid game for Cap'n Jack at the right back position. Unfortunately, he picked up some sort of injury and was taken out during the half. I'm starting to wonder if the Timbers' right back position is cursed.
Will's rating: 5 - Looked good then looked hurt. It is great that he gutted it out, but it was pretty clear he needed to get off the pitch well before the half.
Futty Danso: 5
Another decent start for the Futty, albeit towards the end of the match he was definitely showing some wear and tear. I'm not sure if his injury will be lasting or not, but a few too many knocks definitely took the energy and spark out of him leaving the Timbers' backline gassed during the last 10 minutes.
Will's rating: 6 - Using all your subs before the 70th minute might now work out? Whaaaaaat? Like last week, Futty was good on the ground and a beast in the air. He got beaten badly once and was lucky to stay on the pitch, but otherwise Futty was rock-solid until his injury took him out of the game.
Pretty much standard, solid Mosqo at this point. His performance in the back is holding together the defense at this point. Unfortunately, after Futty's minor, niggling energy he was forced to cover too much and was left a bit haggard by the effort.
Ryan's rating: 6 - Except for one mistake defensively he played a great game and in the final 10 minutes was called on to play both centerback positions.
Steven Smith: 6
A better performance for the Scotsman than is first game. He was consistently providing service into the box, but was also consistently overshooting or undershooting.
Andy's rating: 5 - Certainly his best match in a Timbers uniform, which is saying almost nothing. We got to see an inventive side of him on offense, but he's still too slow to close down attackers.
There's something special inside Songo'o that we saw hints of last night, but that's it... hints! Overall his performance last night left me impatient for Kalif Alhassan's return.
Andy's rating: 5 - He's got great skill on the ball, but he's still not making the right runs off the ball. With all of his talent, he should be owning that area on the wing, but so far the fullbacks he goes up against don't seem too bothered.
Diego Chara: 7
Hard working, back to back, willing to make the tackles others are afraid too. It might cost him a few cards every now and then, but damned if he's not the hardest working man on the field and it showed last night as he bounced back and forth from end to end for 90+ minutes.
Will's rating: 6 - In a remarkably restrained outing (helped by some forgiving refereeing) Diego still made more than his fair share of tackles all over the pitch, stifling several good attacking chances for the Dynamo. Chara's movement on the break also looked good early on this game before fading later on.
Lovel Palmer: 4
I don't know what more I can add here that wouldn't just be a repeat of what I've said for the last few weeks. Bottom line, the Timbers need a CAM and Palmer isn't it. Served well enough defensively though.
Andy's rating: 6 - Many fans point out that the Timbers haven't scored since he took over the CDM role, but they've also had three clean sheets in that span. For all his faults, he succeeded at organizing the defensive shape (until Alexander came on and effed it all up), and he finally aimed his cannon of a shot on the frame.
Rodney Wallace: 5
Not quite the fire cracker that we saw against the Columbus Crew, but held possession during some key plays and got on the end of some chances. All in all, an average night for him.
Will's rating: 4 - By himself, Wallace looked good on the wing. When asked to play with others, things did not go smoothly. In what was almost the Timbers best scoring chance of the game, Wallace had an open pass to Boyd which would have wrong footed the keeper and the last defender but instead elected to shoot himself, taking too many touches and having the ball blocked away. And that is how Rodney Wallace's game went.
Agh! Potential! No goals! I feel like I've covered this ad nauseam at this point. Fact is, we need a goal scorer and Nagbe isn't cutting it right now.
Ryan's rating: 4 - I like it when he gets the ball and turns, what I don't like is that it leaves Boyd to be double and triple teamed.
Kris Boyd: 4
Frustrating game for Boyd, no doubt about it and you can tell his goal scoring drought is starting to get into his head. The chances he has been getting he's been off target. One could argue that the service to him in the box simply isn't good enough, but I'm not sure that's the case.
Andy's rating: 4 - He's frustrated. He's still not quite able to anticipate what his teammates are going to do, so he ends up being just a step behind or a step ahead. That's understandable since his teammates keep changing. But I fear he isn't going to score another goal until he's figured them out.
Mike Chabala: 5
Gotta hand it to ol' Chewy. He came in at the half playing on the opposite side of his usual position and, all things considered, played fairly well. He started off fairly slowly, but once Sal Zizzo was subbed in I thought the two paired up really well.
Will's rating: 5 - Chabala came on at the half and did well defensively, locking down the right back position. On the attack he did not do much, although his passing was not quite so disastrous as it was at times last week and even looked good at times once Zizzo got on the field.
Eric Alexander: 3
Was fairly active a couple times helping to create chances, but over all not the super sub we needed. In fact, the reoccurring theme for Alexander is that he's a decent to great player when he starts, but something less any other time.
Andy's rating: 3 - Brought some great energy and drive in maybe his first two minutes on the field. After that he did nothing but cause problems. It's no coincidence that Perkins' two most crucial saves of the match came from EA's side of the field.
Sal Zizzo: 6
His first game in a long time, but he was a revelation for the Timbers right side coming in for Songo'o. His speed allowed him to consistently blow by the Houston defense causing all kinds of havoc for the Texan club. I'm not sure if he's 90 minutes ready, but I believe he could be a contender for a starting position when he is.
Ryan's rating: 6 - Exactly what the Timbers have needed in a sub.
John Spencer: 6
In a similar fashion to last Summer, Spencer is rebuilding this team after a long and consistent losing streak but working on the core defense first. After 2 shut outs, home and away, I'm liking his tactics more and more. The next few games, however, will be a bigger test as fans now want goals and lots of em... after all Merritt is paying some big bucks for that shiny new Designated Player: Kris Boyd.
Andy's rating: 6 - Spencer deserves a ton of credit for transforming the Timbers from a team that had struggled defensively into a team that can regularly get clean sheets. If you want to win games, getting the clean sheet is where you start.
So what do you guys think? How would you mix up the squad for Sunday's match?