Energy right off the go in this game - lots of ball movement - lots of pace - some good chances early on for both teams. I thought the first fifteen minutes of this game were electric. Timbers held their own and then seemed to control the run of play the rest of the first half. Second half - different story.
Here's what I picked out in working from my "what to watch for" in this game:
Penetration on the right side of the LA 18 yard box... First Half: I saw over 10 opportunities made in the first half with crosses coming in on the right - Alhassan with the most and a few by Capt Jack... an interesting piece of play actually had Songo'o playing in a right cross as well. (though he started on the left side). Second Half: I don't remember more than two crosses coming in from the right - both from Zizzo. I wouldn't say any one of those was particularly blinding or awesome in setting up a shot on goal so hats off to LA for defending the left side of their box; especially in the second half.
Compact at the back: IMHO we missed Smith on the left side today - Chabala started poorly and left his feet at least three times - one leading to a cracking cross that found the head of an LA player (missed who it was) and Perkins made the save of the match. For me at least I thought Chabala was out of position quite a bit today; three sliding tackles is not a good sign.
As the game settled in Horst, IMHO, was impressive. He displayed pace and strength - maybe he drifted on occasion early on but he adjusted well and I can see him playing more. Some folks have rated him pretty highly for the center-back in a 3-5-2 with Futty and Mossy playing either side. I can see Horst in that roll just as easy as Brunner. For me our center-backs are strong and make their presence known.
Mossy was his usual self - in game he is just flat out a very strong centerhalf.
Bit of an up and down game for Capt Jack - good involvement early on and did well to overlap with Alhassan on the right in the first half but with Zizzo coming on the overlapping stopped. Alas Capt Jack lost his man on the corner - regardless of what happened with Perkins; marking the attacker, on the corner ball that drifts past the keeper, is critical. We could have done better there... By the way - where was the Portland defender who should usually be parked on the far post for a corner? So for me; we had two lapses there; one with poor marking and the other with no 'far post' defender.
Mwanga - Instead of going into detail here on Mwanga I would first offer that the LA defense played very well today... they got behind the ball, played deep and had numbers on defense; although we had a ton of crosses throughout the game it seemed they smothered and defended when they needed too. Still, it is pretty clear to me Mwanga has size and pace; there was very little or no room for foot skills today in the box. Time will tell with Mwanga, and the in-game communication will get better as time passes, question is - how much time do we have this year? I do recall one play where Mwanga and Boyd paired up nicely but the linesman called Boyd off-side. No comments at this time about the referee or linesman...
Corners and free kicks - well - bottom line - set pieces win games - great example from today's game... we didn't win the battle of corners or free kicks. If I were an in-depth statistician I would say it is now 90.001% of all goals scored are with two touches or less and 50.001% of those come from set pieces like corners or free kicks; chalk one more up for 'corners'...
Substitutions and other items:
Zizzo for Songo'o - not surprised there - I had Zizzo starting but I also see value with Songo'o. Songo'o is probably still not match fit but the switch really had to do with bringing on more pace and direct attacking. Zizzo went to the right and Alhassan switched out left. With that change though the number of crosses dropped dramatically in the second half - we had 10 in the first half and only two from the right in the second half.
Alexander for Alhassan - hmmmm.... still trying to work out that substitution in my head - if, as was the case, we are trying to push up for the equalizer I'm not seeing the value of pulling Alhassan for Alexander. I saw Horst roll out left and Mossy roll out right while Chara slipped into what I would call is a front side sweeper. That means Chabala and Jewsbury are going to push forward. For me at least I would like to see Alhassan stay out there and have Chabala (first choice) come off for Alexander. IMHO that lineup better suits an aggressive 3-5-2. For me, a one - nil loss is no different than a two - nil loss; a loss is a loss.
Fucita for Boyd - still trying to work out that substitution in my head as well - with over 20 crosses and heavy wing play throughout the game pulling Boyd just doesn't settle well with me either; perhaps he wasn't match fit given his time off???. Still - the system was play wide and swing in crosses - and even if we go more direct Boyd is much taller and much stronger than Fucita...
Man of the Match - Perkins made a great save early on but Horst gets my vote. IMHO he was strong, showed pace and played big --- more than once he ensured Donovan felt his presence.