In their first two games against Chivas USA this season the Timbers controlled the game for large stretches and often looked like the more likely team to get a result. Sadly, the same was true on Saturday's thrid and final match between the two teams. The Timbers sent attack after attack at Chivas but were held at bay by the Goats' typically stout defense and some truly unfortunate finishing.
A number of players put in their best performances since Gavin Wilkinson has taken the reins of the team, but several breakdowns held the Timbers back from three points and one big mistake kept them from getting even one. The Timbers will have to eliminate those issues in time to face off against a Dallas team that punished each mistake the Timbers made last weekend, but for the time being the team looked good.
Let's take a look at our scores.
Troy Perkins: 4
There is no denying it: Perkins made a bad decision and it cost the Timbers. The defense in front of him put in one of their most complete games to date, but the Timbers netminder, who has been a steady presence at the back all season, took a rare misstep. Other than on the goal Perkins was his usual self, making the easy saves, patrolling his box, and kicking a few balls straight out of bounds.
Ryan's rating: 3 - It would have been a 6 or a 7 but the biggest mistake he made was trying to come out on that cross when there was no way he was going to get to it. This game was probably his best game distribution wise and I saw him lay into the defenders for not getting out on players but in the end that all means nothing if he makes a huge mistake like he did.
Steven Smith: 5
Smith provided some good cover for on the left. While he was not as involved in the attack as he has been on occasion, he did have to chance to send a few well placed crosses into the box. On defense, Smith rose to the occasion, providing ample coverage for Franck Songo'o in a pairing that could bear fruit in the future. When Songo'o lost the ball, as often as not Smith was right there to clean things up and reclaim possession.
Ryan's rating: 4 - Neither Outside back had games to remember but with how often they have been getting burned this is probably a good thing. Songo'o seems like he plays better defense when Smith is paired with him and Smith seems to play better too.
Mosco was consistent and did not put a foot wrong all game. He was not involved in much of the play, but it was his hanging back that allowed David Horst to step forward and cut out a number of balls. Mosco played almost like a sweeper at times, showing a more conservative mindset on defense and balancing well with the more ambitious play of Horst.
Ryan's rating: 5 - Easily the Timbers' best CB. However there are times that it looks like Horst and Mosco are not on the same page and this almost cost the Timbers against Chivas.
David Horst: 6
Horst was a beast this game. He was dominant in the air, passed well, and made some darn good interceptions too. Add that to the constant threat he provides when getting forward on set pieces and his propensity for (literally) tossing around opposing players, and you have a very good performance from the Timbers' big man.
Andy's rating: 8 - My Man of the Match. His return this season was probably somewhat premature, due to his fitness level, but it's fair to say fitness is no longer a problem. He ran all over the field, made all the right choices in stepping in to intercept passes, and always hustled back when he was caught out of position. Most importantly, he was a leader, both vocally and by example.
Under Gavin Wilkinson the Timbers' fullbacks seem to have been given somewhat less lisence to go forward, instead hanging back to provide defensive cover. No where was this more apparent than with Kimura on Saturday. Where in previous games we saw him bombing down the right side, leaving a hole that opposing teams could exploit, against Chivas he was rarely involved in the attack, but neither did the opponents attack find the same space in which to operate. It was a quite day for Kimura overall. He tackled well, made some good interceptions, and passed the ball nicely.
Andy's rating: 5 - Kimura and Richards weren't totally on the same page for a lot of the game, but that's really more on Richards than on Kimura. He did what Timbers fullbacks haven't done this season, closing down space and getting back into position quickly when they get involved in the attack.
Jewsbury's play in front of the defense was steady and his passing, while rarely ambitious, was accurate, two good qualities to look for in a defensive midfielder. When he did get involved in the attack he seemed to be of two minds, at times playing excellent through balls that were promptly wasted by Boyd and at others holding the ball for much to long and having it blocked away.
Andy's rating: 6 - It looked like Jewsbury liked his role on the field, as the lone defensive midfielder. The coaching staff should have thought of that a while ago. He played the position about as well as he has this season -- not his best performance, but a good one nonetheless.
Diego Chara: 7
Given license to get forward with the attack Diego did so and did so often. Chara is known for the amount of ground he covers each game and Saturday night was no exception. It seemed that each possession started with the ball making its way to Chara who would sprint down the field to start the break only to pop up back in the thick of things on defense when Chivas worked the ball down the field. By the end of the game Chara looked like he might drop dead, which would be very bad for the Timbers, before picking his head up and sprinting off somewhere to gather up the ball once again.
Andy's rating: 8 - This is the role I've been waiting to see Chara play all season. Chara is at his best as a destroyer of opposing teams' passes, dribbles, and ankles, but up until Saturday he'd focused that destruction on the defensive half of the pitch. Turns out it's just as effective in the attacking half.
Franck Songo'o: 7
With the ball at his feet, Songo'o was a magician on the left. He tormented the Chivas defense, creating chance after chance for the Timbers even while drawing two or three defenders. He even was able to provide some defensive help, working with Steven Smith rather than switching sides back and forth. In previous games, Songo'o has looked to cut inside for the shot, but Saturday saw him sticking to the outside and playing provider, a role in which he excelled before becoming gassed early on in the second half.
Ryan's rating: 7 - He was doing everything he could to get the Timbers a goal. The only thing he didn't do was actually shoot it and sometimes I wish he would be a little selfish and cut it in for a long range shot from the corner. If he does cut it in on a couple of occasions this will keep the defense honest. Towards the end he did try and do too much but I can't fault the effort.
Different day, same story. Nagbe made some great runs, including one the got him alone one on one with Dan Kennedy only for his chipped shot to go just wide. Nagbe also hesitated at times and was, as usual, unwilling to make a forward pass. Nagbe's technical and physical abilities continue to impress, but the mental part of the game seems off.
Andy's rating: 3 - He may have more raw talent than anyone else on the pitch, but he's not using it. If he's going to be an attacker he needs to know what he's going to do with the ball before it comes to him. There's no time in the penalty box for figuring stuff out -- you just gotta do it. He's not doing it. Until he gets that confidence back, he shouldn't be taking up a spot in the starting XI.
What a start for the Timbers' first ever homegrown player. Richards brought a different dynamic to the wing, providing long throws, aerial threats, and the occasional shot. In fact, Richards had one of the better opportunities to score of the game as he crashed late into the box in the 27th minute to get onto a rolling Songo'o cross, only to put his effort just wide. There were plenty of positives to Richards's game but he could have done more with his chances.
Andy's rating: 6 - Here's the awesome thing about Richards: all those aerial crosses that weren't getting to Boyd? Now they'll get to Richards. He's so many things the team's been missing: a winger with a nose for goal, who works hard on defense, and who works like mad to cover his mistakes. He needs to make fewer of them and combine better with his teammates at times, but it'd be a mistake to leave him out of the starting lineup if he continues to play like that.
Kris Boyd: 4
Boyd had chances to score and he didn't, which is not great for a forward, let alone a designated player forward. Of course, many of those were half chances at best, except that one where he was alone in front of an open goal. Other than the shooting part of the game, Boyd put in the work and tested the Chivas back line all night, but until somebody else on the team can provide a credible scoring threat, Boyd has to make his chances count.
Ryan's rating: 3 - Made the runs he needed to make but I would love to see him be a little more unselfish. He needs to redeem himself and go out and work hard next Saturday.
Andy's rating: 4 - Rough night, man. You'll get em next time, I have no doubt.
Kalif came on and immediately took the game to Chivas, providing the same mix of sublime and infuriating play that we have seen from him all season. He provided several excellent chances to his teammates including his excellent volleyed pass to Nagbe in the final minutes of the game that should have lead to a goal.
Ryan's rating: 5 - I love what he brought to the game as a sub and that finally we had a sub he could come in and change the game in the Timbers' favor. His crosses are dangerous and wish he was the one taking the corners instead of Alexander
Eric Alexander: 5
Alexander came in and provided a bit of energy for the flagging Songo'o. Like every other wing player for the Timbers on the day, Alexander provided some good service in to Nagbe and Boyd, but nothing came of it. Alexander's game is less flashy than Songo'o or Alhassan but he provided some good passing and service from the left.
Ryan's rating: 4 - He was pedestrian compared to the other players who played on the wings. He did have some nice passes and helped Portland keep possession late in the game.
Danny Mwanga: N/A
Well, there we are. Did you agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments how you rated the boys against Chivas.