For the first time in their brief MLS history Portland has scored two away goals. Not only that, but one of them was a late equalizer. With all that said there were not that many players to choose from for Man of the Match honors, as quite a few players had pretty poor performances. So let's see who the writers thought was their MOTM.
This is going to sound like a bit of a shocker, but Steven Smith.
The reality of the situation is that he played well defensively for the night with many of the most dangerous runs by Toronto FC and, indeed, the two goals coming from glaring mistakes either on the right or in the center of the field. One could argue Smith allowed Silva to get in front of him for the second goal, but he was forced to watch two players (Silva and Amarikwa) as Horst moved farther and farther away from Silva. The fact is, though, that without Smith in the game last night that was a loss, a 2-nil loss, as he had a big hand in both goals. While he may not be credited with the assist for the first goal, he put in a great cross from the corner that set up the situation.
I've been harsh on Nagbe for most of this season, mainly for his timidity in front of goal and his relative unwillingness to take risks and move up the field. And although his performance was far from flawless, he showed a lot more of what I've wanted to see out of him. He made contributions all over the pitch, made great runs forward, did well to help the team hold possession, and kept at it for the whole game. His efforts were rewarded in the 83rd minute, when a fantastic display of one touch passing from his teammates set up his first goal since March 31.
I know he did not make the initial save on the first goal, and he almost let in a howler in the first half, but his distribution is what make him man of the match for me. He had 20 unsuccessful passes compared to his 24 successful passes. 24 times Portland kept possession of the ball because of Ricketts. Even when his up-the-field kicks did not maintain possession, they went so far up the field that instead of Toronto winning the ball at the half line, they were winning the ball near the top of their 18, which then allowed Portland to find their shape defensively and get set up. All of these things added up to 57.6% of the possession for Portland.
For me it had to be Darlington Nagbe. I have been moaning about his lack of production but his tying goal was a calm, easy finish and hopefully just what he needs to start putting them away regularly. He still does not always pull the trigger when I want him to and occasionally falls over but he keeps taking small steps forward and those small steps are starting to add up.
Who do you think was MOTM?