Portland Timbers Control Game in Scrimmage With Oregon State

The Portland Timbers reserves won their match up against the Oregon State Beavers today with a score of 2-1. All three goal scorers were Timbers with Brent Richards and Franck Songo'o scoring for the Timbers while U23's product Emory Welshman got on the board for OSU.

The Timbers played two very different games in the first and second halves. Starting out the game in a 4-3-3, the Timbers looked somewhat disjointed as the link between the midfield and attackers was nonexistent early on. Although he showed plenty of good touches, Brent Richards was a main culprit in the Timbers' midfield struggles as his passes were often just slightly off target and the as a result the offense never really got going.

In the second half, the Timbers took control of the game with Franck Songo'o, and later Kalif Alhassan, pulling the strings from the center of the pitch. The Timbers were almost certainly given a mandate to hold on to the ball after struggling in the first half and at times looked more like they were playing a game of keep away than an actual soccer game.

Early in the second half the Timbers' increased possession payed dividends as Songo'o played a beautiful pass in to Sal Zizzo who got around his man and served the ball into the box. A Beavers defender managed to get a foot to the ball but Richards was crashing into the box and hammered the ball home.

The despite seeing very little of the ball, the Beavers were able to equalize as Songo'o set up another goal, sending a errant back pass directly to Oregon State and Timbers U23's forward Welshman who turned and beat Joe Bendik low and to the far post.

To round things out, a Beavers hand ball in the box gave Songo'o his chance at redemption. Stepping up to the spot, Songo'o finished with aplomb. Songo'o hit the ball hard and to the right and, although the OSU keeper got a hand to the ball, he was unable to even slow it down.

More match notes after the jump.

First Half

Timbers Line-up: Bendik (GK), Vickers (LB), Brunner (CB - Captain), Futty (CB), Kawulok (RB), Renken (CM), Richards (CM), Braun (CM), Fucito (LW), Dike (CF), Mwanga (RW)

Positives

  • Bright Dike and Mike Fucito have some chemistry out there. They had a couple of very nice combinations to get free around the box.
  • Dike plowed through U23's center back Chris Harms, sending him flying and earning a throw in for the Timbers in a play that typified his game today.
  • Charles Renken plays big for a little guy. He isn't afraid to muscle someone off the ball and, despite his slight frame, he is fairly successful doing so.
  • In addition to his tackling, Renken also showed some good passing out of the midfield, something that the Timber struggled with in the first half.
  • Ryan Kawulok can run all day long. He would appear in the attacking third with regularity then be back on defense before anyone else. There is no jogging back for this guy.
  • However, the most impressive thing about Kawulok's play was his calm on the ball. Although his touch is not the softest, Kawulok rarely plays himself into trouble, an unfortunately unique attribute among the Timbers defenders.
  • Danny Mwanga looked very comfortable once he switched over to the left side of the pitch. He had some success toward the end of the half both cutting inside to shoot and beating his man to the end line in order to get off a cross.
  • Joe Bendik is loud and directs traffic effectively.

Negatives

  • Richards is not a central midfielder. Although he holds the ball well and is capable of playing a good pass, he did not seem to know what to do at times while in the center of the pitch, which led to a number of turnovers.
  • Cam Vickers was the weak link on the back line in the first half and OSU exploited that. Welshman gave Vickers fits at times and the Beavers' counter attack saw lots of success flowing down the right side of the field.
  • Eric Brunner looks like he is still a ways away from being fully fit. Either due to fitness or injury, Brunner spent a lot of time with his hands on his knees today.
  • At times Mwanga looked completely disconnected form the play and disappeared from the game.
  • Futty, who put in an otherwise solid performance, played one unnecessary ball across the back line to Brunner that was inches away from being picked off by an OSU player, exactly the sort of play that has punished the Timbers time and time again this season.

Second Half

Timbers Line-up 1: Bendik (GK), Vickers (LB), Palmer (CB), Kawulok (CB - Captain), Braun (RB), Renken (DM), Richards (LM), Songo'o (CM), Zizzo (RM), Rincon (CF), Dike (CF)

Timbers Line-up 2: Bendik (GK), Vickers (LB), Palmer (CB), Kawulok (CB - Captain), Braun (RB), Alexander (DM), Wallace (LM), Songo'o (CM), Alhassan (CM), Zizzo (RM), Rincon (CF)

Positives
  • Sebastian Rincon started off the half by showing off some excellent dribbling and speed before dropping the ball off... (continued in the negatives)
  • Rincon may not be build quite as solidly as Dike, but he still tosses defenders around very effectively.
  • Lovel Palmer put in a comptetent showing in the center of the defense, where he was extremely vocal in leading the backline.
  • It was a surprising to see the rarely featured Kawulok given the captain's armband, but he turned in a solid performance in the center of the defense.
  • Songo'o's presence on the pitch changed the game for the Timbers as he was able to provide the link between the forwards and the rest of the team.
  • The central midfield triangle of Kalif Alhassan and Songo'o in front of Eric Alexander was dominant. Once the Timbers gained possession, they were able to hold the ball without issue.
  • Rodney Wallace looked totally comfortable in the midfield, beating several players on the dribble and ripping several shots from outside the box.
Negatives
  • (continued from the positives) ... only to find that there was nobody there and his pass rolled back far enough to reach the OSU forwards and start one of the Beavers' only attacking chances of the half.
  • Songo'o's poor back pass, one of his only poorly placed passes of the day, lead to the only OSU goal.
  • At times the Timbers did not look like they were giving their opponents much respect as they continued to keep the ball. For the last fifteen minutes or so, the Timbers focused on playing keep away rather than trying to actually break down the OSU back line, a questionable decision for a team that has consistently struggled on offense this season.
  • Palmer received a yellow card for an elbow to the head of an OSU player midway through the second half, giving up a free kick in the Timbers defensive third.
On the sidelines Amos Magee and Cameron Knowles were the most involved in the direction of the game although Gavin Wilkinson was more involved in the second half, particularly in what he wanted to see from the midfield.
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