FanPost

What Happened .vs. WTWF - Match Analysis Timber 2 - SJ 1

First off - what an absolute firacracka of a game... blindin, smashin, wicked result from a home side that WORKED for the fans and themselves last night like I have never seen before...

One-v-One - IMHO this game was won and lost by how effective and consistent we were in winning these battles; my statistics probably won't be the same as others (like Billy Beane) but when watching this game and logging what I thought were compelling, ball winning/losing possession battles the Timbers won by a difference of about 10... with the first half being much more aggressive than the second half. I had us winning twice as many possession battles as SJ in the first half and SJ and the Timbers being about even in the second half. (goals: 1 to Timbers in the first half 1 each to Timbers and SJ in the second half)

As for who - from what I saw Palmer, Songo'o, Alexander and Horst were doing the best at winning ball possession battles... I would offer that Nagbe was probably the weak link in ball possession battles - and with his role as a midfielder that is not good... If rated on a scale of 1 - 10 I would offer that our side was an 8 going on 9; with Nagbe keeping us from being a 9.

Wingers - Reverse overlapping - I picked this as a WTWF becuase I felt that getting winger support to our fullbacks would be critical in maintaining a clean sheet and defending our goal; over the course of the game Alexander was available and did reverse overlaps with Steve Smith so did Songo'o; but with his constant attacking and consistency of ball winning there were fewer occasions where Songo'o had to reverse overlap. In this defensive department we did our job and did it well. We did concede a goal in the second half but this was a result of scrambled play more than anything; not from a lack of defending from the wings but in losing sight of defending the six yard box.

CDM - GREAT game by Palmer who was selected to play in place of Chara; in hindsight (which is never a luxury in managing soccer) but can be for us pundits I would offer that my LOGJAM Part II blog will need to be updated based upon what I saw and how Palmer locked down and consistently won his midfield battles.

For those that have already read the article be advised that in seeing Palmer for the first time (real hard look at him) I would offer that Palmer and Chara together along with Alexander and Songo'o represent our strongest defensive midfield alignment. Great job by Palmer! This also means abandoning, IMHO, a diamond 4-4-2 and going with a traditional 4 wide midfield with Palmer and Chara in the center and Songo'o right and Alexander left... Songo'o goes to the right now given his additional creativity and the lack of overlaps we want from Jewsbury - the further forward he pushes the greater the risk on losing the right side defensively.

Linkage to our Strikers (direct and long ball) - Direct ball - Songo'o - Mwanga - Goal... Free Kick (long ball) Songo'o - Futty - Jewsbury - Goal...

Direct ball - There is good strategy in putting Songo'o out wide right as opposed to the left-sde... Jewsbury did not, and probably should not, given his lack of pace, overlap on the right this means Songo'o has more creative space on the right to do what he does best (in-swinging crosses and superb creativity)... As you have probably seen at least 10 times already his low-right-footed cross led to Mwanga netting his first goal for Timbers.

But his presence on the right was not all of it - Alexander dominated and consistently outplayed his man on the left; winning his possession battles more often than not as well... great goal scoring opportunity for Alexander and with both his speed and Smith's speed we still retained and executed the threat of overlapping on the left... solid linkage throughout the game between our wingers and strikers... (no real linkage present between the center of the midfield and our strikers however)...

Long ball - Finally, I want to touch on the 'long ball' as well and why that had value today... we played with two center forwards last night who are both capable of and did execute the role of being a target striker as well as an off-striker... with a long ball approach (we fired in about 20 long balls last night) this gives us another threat to hit the opposing team defense with --- we have overlapping on the left , we have creativity on the right, we have long balls over the top --- the only thing really missing tonight from the offensive side were direct through balls from the midfield. We get there but I think we get there if and only if we get a CAM who thinks and plays defense first... we're not there yet... (getting and taking possession of the ball in the midfield by the CAM means we open up 'quick direct- through ball opportunities because their defense is not positioned to defend they are positioned to attack!) Perhaps KAH fills that role; IDK... but if thinking defense first in an away game I see Palmer and Chara running the central midfield together first before Chara and Nagbe...

Bottom Line - Songo'o = Man of the Match!

Other things.... In all, I think we played in about 10 or so crosses the whole game - and SJ played in about 7 or 8 so we not only won this battle - we won this war... the flip side is that with fewer crosses this means much of this game was played in the center of the pitch - and with us winning the possession battle we pretty much did to SJ what Rapids did to us...

I would offer that if/when Songo'o gets healthy again we see KAH in the CAM role with Chara and Alexander and Songo'o filling out the rest - "IF" John Spencer wants to play a traditional 4-wide midfield then having Palmer and Chara in the center with Songo'o and Alexander on the wings represents what I see as the single best defensive minded midfield that can also provide ample offensive threats without weakening the back four.

When Songo'o gets healthy my WTWF will be how JS lines up his midfield. In as much as the TSUN game was a 'nexus' for us I see the play in this game as being a nexus for us as well... If I were head coach today there are some solid decisions you can make after seeing what was out there last night...

Lots of things to add but will follow up with one thing - set-pieces win games :) in the case of last night the in-swinging direct (long ball) free kick by Songo'o into the box for Futty to head and then Jewsbury to pounce on and jam home won this game... I figure Billy Beane will be saying that sometime this week to his guys as well :)... there is goodness in statistics...

So for me and my LOGJAM Part II just posted I am more than willing to eat humble pie and rescind my idea of having Boyd play in the midfield - I do this more so because his partnership with Mwanga played out really dangerously but in the last 7 or so games I am not convinced that Nagbe gives us 'defensively' what we need from a CAM; especially when my thoughts are 'think defense first' :).

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.

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