Headline - Central Defenders Win this game for Timbers; Central Defenders lose this game for TSUN.
Hard to figure out where to start on this one so here's my "what happened" versus my "what to watch for" posted 21 June http://www.columbian.com/weblogs/portland-timbers/2012/jun/21/what-to-watch-for-wtwf-this-sunday-against-seattle/; others may have different views - especially those from TSUN...
"Win the battle of corners and free kicks" in the first half Timbers won this battle about 6 to 5 - in the second half Timbers lost this battle 6 to 11 --- all told TSUN had 16 corners or free kicks in danger spots to the Timbers 12 - so Timbers lost this battle. BUT - in all battles there are 'acceptable losses' - in this case even though we gave away more set piece opportunities we scored and were inches from scoring on two of them. So....... we lost the battle but won the war. IMHO - we dominated high balls all game long - hence my initial analysis that we won this game with our central defenders and they lost this game because of theirs.
"Stay compact at the back" - the guys did a pretty good job of staying compact and only one let down came when Johnson hit a stunning left-pegged shot into the far post. I didn't see many crossing opportunities for TSUN as they more often than not worked between the top of the 18 yard box instead of alongside it. There was some penetration from the left but Smith usually did well to neutralize. Obviously though there were many free kicks from the left side in the second half - TSUN are quite good at diving if you ask me but give them credit for setting themselves up for the half-chance. Some might offer that it was a game of two-halves - I would tend to agree.
"Score a bloody goal" - Aye - great ball movement down the left between Songo'o and Smith that lead to a well timed cross that Boyd slotted home... good play. In watching Songo'o a bit more I am more impressed as time passes; he still loses it a bit easy on occasion but he played well on the left.
"Score a bloody goal" - Aye - Set piece (the game winner) - nice out-swinging corner ball from Songo'o with Horst heading home the game winner; Horst was unlucky IMHO not to score a brace - his earlier header hit the corner post.
"Do something different" - IMHO the Timbers lined up and played a much more [pinched - in] formation this game and I think it suited their midfield much better - I didn't see the overwhelming numbers of overlaps like we did against LAG and KAH/Songo'o provided much better internal midfield support to Nagbe and Chara as well as the fullbacks.
Okay - on to some other observations: Perkins - stellar in goal again - a number of saves today and all - round he was on top form!
Back four - wow; lots of pressure in the second half and both Horst and Futty stood up well with Capt Jack and Smith (we are much stronger with Smith at the back). I think Capt. Jack still wishes he were in the midfield; late in the game I thought both he and Smith drifted too far forward - a dangerous thing to do with the pace of Montero (RED CARD!), Johnson and the vision of Rosales and the attacking support provided by Alonso. I still have the same concerns about Capt Jack's pace but a win gives a wee bit of a chance to spend more time highlighting the good, not the bad or ugly.
Midfield - Chara continues to impress and KAH had a very good game going until getting injured - Zizzo brings certain skills to the game with his pace but the magical ball skills KAH has are more difficult to defend against. Nagbe played solid IMHO - good ball movement throughout even though he occasionally gave up the ball to much; especially late on. He is growing in his vision of the game and it won't be long till he scores another stunner. Still - he was a bit quiet in the build-up to the two goals but he presence was there more today than against LAG. I liked how well Songo'o played today and he suits the pinched in midfield role quite nicely - more so than Wallace and IMHO plays bigger on the ball than Wallace. He continues to impress with his strength and vision - the more minutes he gets the better he will get. With a small pitch I think he better suits a 'pinched in' formation than Wallace.
Forwards - Both Fucito and Boyd started with a lot of energy today and the little guy Fucito has good energy, good pace, good foot skills, good vision and is definitely a 'step-up' from Perlaza - I sense it has been a very good move to bring him in as well as Mwanga. Boyd did what Boyd does best - get into a goal scoring position and score - poaching at its best and the cross from Smith was quality! Mwanga came on late and added a few touches but by then other things were going on.
Other things going on - in case you didn't notice (which most everyone surely did) the Timbers dropped very deep in the second half and probably gave TSUN more space than they deserved. The Timbers had the run-of-play in the first half and settling back on your heals can work against you sometimes. Very late on (after the two red-cards) we played about with the ball too much instead of pushing it down to the corners - 'icing the puck' in hockey is kinda similar to what the Timbers should have done in those last few minutes.
Keller comments: To feeble to remember any quotes really but no question his 'color commentary' was shaded aqua-blue (cian? blue) during the ESPN telecast. There is no question in my mind that we dominated the 'high balls' in this game both in attacking and defending. As they said about the Italy - England match today after PK's; the better team, on the day, won...
At the end of the day - Timbers won this game - well deserved - my 'man of the match' was Perkins - I had Horst winning it until he over-committed against Johnson and then dropped back too much to let Johnson slot home a lovely left-pegged far post goal. That may be a bit unfair to Horst - that is two games in a row now where he has stepped up BIG for the Timbers IMHO!
An additional thought - the Flounders Blogger doesn't seem to know his lineups very well; many of us called for Rosales, Johnson and Alonso when he didn't. I wouldn't rely on that Flounders guy too much in the future about giving us anything useful.
Alright guys, I don't believe I have to say this but, just in case, please do not submit anything racist, homophobic, sexist or otherwise not appropriate for even the younger Timbers fans.