Recap: Portland's 2012 woes continue

Quick Recap:

The Portland Timbers rolled out a modified 4-5-1 and actually looked decent going forward. However, none of the chances actually created a goal, and in the end it cost Portland the game. Chivas USA scored the only goal of the game, just past the hour mark. 1-0 loss.

First Half

Brent Richards was rewarded with his first start of his career, and Portland's Darlington Nagbe and Diego Chara played the attacking base in an inverted pyramid in the center. With these changes Portland looked dangerous going forward and were able to record the first shot of the game in the 12th minute by Brent Richards.

The changes also stifled Chivas USA's attack by pushing the the whole defensive unit up the field. With the higher line of the back four and the CMs higher up the field, they were able to pressure the first pass instead of the cross or shot. As with any game Portland did give up some chances but Troy Perkins was there to make the saves. Portland limited Chivas to only 5 shots in the first half, just two of them on target for easy saves from Perkins.

With the defense doing well, Portland was able to collect and actually possess the ball. When Chivas did sit back, Portland used Richards and his amazing ability to get into the air and win headers. In the 20th minute a long pass did find Richards in the air, and he hit an amazing header just behind Kris Boyd. Boyd flicked the ball with his heel to bring it in front of him but his shot was over the bar. If Boyd had scored he would have had Goal of the Week sewn up.

After the flick Chivas decided they needed to watch Richards more, which opened up the other wing. Franck Songo'o took advantage. Songo'o played like a man on a mission and took on players time and again. His crosses were dangerous but unable to find the open player until the 26th minute when he hit the ball back to the penalty spot and right to an on rushing Richards. Richards' shot was wide of the goal (are you seeing a theme here?) for a goal kick.

The offensive effort continued for the Timbers continued, and chances did materialize, but every effort just seemed to be lacking the final quality. Boyd had numerous occasions, in the 30th, 42nd minute, to open the scoring but was just not good enough -- but he wasn't the only one. In the first half Portland had 6 shots with three on goal, but none were dangerous.

Second Half

For the first time in a while, the second half of this game seemed to be the stronger half for Portland. They came out with a lot of energy and were really looking to grab the first goal of the game. Kris Boyd had two shots with in the first 8 minutes of the half but both of them were high and not dangerous enough. Songo'o and Richards continued to create chance after chance for the team, but the goal still was nowhere to be found.

Chivas, on the other hand, were just trying to ride out the storm and routinely let Portland possess the ball for long periods of time, but the possession was 50 yards away from goal. When Chivas did go forward it was with few numbers and most of the time on a counter. However, they won a free kick in the 68th minute and punished Portland for a mistake.

When the free kick was hit you could see Perkins immediately come off his line to challenge for the ball as it headed for the penalty spot. Instead of getting to the ball, though he ran right into Jack Jewsbury and gave Danny Califf a free header for the goal. Had Perkins not come off his line Jewsbury might have challenged for the ball, and the header would not have been so easy.

To the Timbers' credit they did not give up and over the next 20 minutes they created 10 shots and had multiple corner kicks. In fact, in the second half they had 9 corners. It was all in vain as they only got 3 of those 10 shots on target and they were all easy saves.

Observations

  • The lineup worked well all the way until the 18-yard box, and at that point it is just a matter of confidence, something this team is sorely lacking.
  • Richards is amazing in the air -- it's like he jumps off a trampoline to get to some of those balls -- and has such a deft touch with his head.
  • Songo'o was determined to get an assist; too bad no one else helped him out
  • Sean McAuley seemed to be running the show and Gavin admitted this is what it may look like for the rest of the year because he was going to lean heavily on Sean to act as the lead assistant.
  • Everyone is frustrated with this team right now. This game was as MP put it a "Microcosm of tough season. Utterly dominate a team and lose shows why this can be such cruel game. Will make success sweeter"
  • I love seeing Chara farther up the field. He created so many turnovers, many of which led to decent goal scoring opportunities.
  • For the first time in a long time I felt the subs were all spot on and added something to the game.
  • At least we are still first in the Cascadia Cup standings. #onlythingleftoplayfor

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