Recap: Different strategy but same result

Quick recap

Portland tries to be more defensive and it works for the first half as they keep the score 0-0. In the second half the flood gates open and in 17 minutes RSL scores 3 for the win. 3-0 loss.

First Half

John Spencer trotted out a line-up featuring 3 defensive midfielders and 2 attacking mids. Leaving Danny Mwanga up top to contend with the best CB tandem in the league. Just like what you would expect while playing a 4-5-1 Portland had no possession to speak of in the first 5 minutes of the game and RSL had almost all of it.

RSL was passing the ball with ease but instead of trying to go through the middle of the field they decided to move Javier Morales a little further to the wings, the left side, and utilize him there. This proved to be a tactical advantage as he was able to find space and time to pass the ball and therefore create for RSL.

When the Timbers did get the ball it was usually in the back and they had no options to pass the ball forward. With no options forward the ball usually went sideways or back to Troy Perkins or a long ball to a double teamed Mwanga who had no chance to win the ball. Thus starting the cycle over and allowing RSL to quickly get back into their attack.

Numerous close calls occurred in the first half with Perkins having to make a couple of saves and David Horst having to make goal saving tackles or blocking shots. Portland did have their opportunities to score and they came the closest on a counter. The end result of the counter was a deflected shot from Eric Alexander which ended inches wide of the goal.

Second Half

The second half started much like the first half with Portland all behind the ball and letting RSL have the ball. However in this half unlike the first half Portland was unable to get close to RSL's goal and RSL was able to apply a ton of pressure on Portland.

The pressure just kept building and Portland was able to handle it until they gave up their first goal. Even with 5 CMs playing RSL had too much time and space at times and it finally burned the Timbers as they failed to close down RSL and the ball was crossed into the box towards Alvaro Saborio. Futty Danso had position on him defensively but seemed to mistime his jump as Saborio beat him to the ball and it bounced off the back post and into the goal.

At this point you could see John Spencer head over to Kris Boyd and starts the process of getting him ready to sub into the game. However 2 minutes later some miscommunication between Horst and Steven Smith left Saborio wide open on a long cross and Portland was down 2.

When Spencer finally subbed for the first time it was a double switch with Mike Fucito also coming in but by that time the rest of the team, minus Chara and David Horst had hung their heads or had such tired legs the offensive was anemic. With tired legs came tired tackles and finally Morales took exception to a tackle from Diego Chara and a minor scuffle ensued and 3 yellow cards were handed out.

Thus started the parade of the cards from the referee. Over the span of 10 minutes Portland earned 5 yellow cards and a one red card. The Red card coming on a corner when Diego Chara stopped the ball with his hand/body. A penalty was awarded and Saborio was given the opportunity to complete his hat trick, which he did.

After that point Hayner Mosquera was put in to go with a 3-4-2 but it was too little too late as their were numerous odd man rushes at Portland's goal but thankfully no adding to Portland's misery. The game ended in a disappointing 3-0 result.

Observations:

  • Lovel Palmer, Jack Jewsbury, and Diego Chara had no clue how to play together and it hurt Portland
  • Kosuke Kimura did well defensively but he too seemed lost offensively because of the lack of time with his new teammates.
  • Good teams do not change their tactics when on the road to go all out defensively. Just look at the top teams in this league and other leagues and you will see that week in week out they play their style on the road. Bad teams play for the draw from the first whistle and hope they can get a result.
  • At some point something needs to be done about Portland's road form, I know the Timbers organization is tired about fielding questions about their road form. If they are tired of the questions maybe they should change something, travel schedule, sleeping schedule, something.....
  • This was a very difficult game to watch for Timbers fans...
  • Portland seems to be very unlucky concerning injuries to their players and when teams are getting their injured players back. Both Colorado and RSL got players back for injury for their games against Portland. Still Portland needs to do better.
Sorry this was a little late getting up as I just couldn't bear to watch it again until this morning.
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