Pardon us for being a day tardy with our usual Man of the Match series as we aim to return to full power after the four of us have taken turns going on vacations, etc. It's a busy job keeping track of the Portland Timbers, and some weeks we just need a break, ya know?
Last Sunday saw the Portland Timbers take on the New York Red Bulls in what would be a thrilling offensive affair from both sides. The good news is that the Timbers are finally starting to show that they have teeth and they can, in fact, score when on the road. The bad news is that they've also shown that their defense is as porous as a sponge. Sure it'll absorb some shots, but given enough pressure it's going to burst.
So it really should come as no surprise that today's Man of the Match series is an all offensive affair. Check it out:
Over and over again I have said that Nagbe has been taking baby steps forward and building on the week before. Well, I am saying it again. Another game and another goal from Darlington has gone a long way toward making me a believer. There were moments of brilliance against New York from Nagbe and if he can continue to produce them he is not far away from being the player that we all hoped for when he was drafted.
Sal had his best game as a Timber on Sunday. He used his speed to terrorize the defense and even showed his passing skills with his two assists. If Sal can continue to produce assists Portland will have less offensive problems going forward. Now he just needs to work on his finishing.
A week after scoring his first MLS goal despite what I thought was a relatively weak performance against Toronto, Sal came back with two assists against New York. Everyone in the midfield turned in some great performances, working together better than I've seen all season. But Sal Zizzo's consistent ability to get behind the defense -- along with his new and improved ability to pick out and pass to a teammate once he's there -- was the biggest difference maker for the Timbers.
With two assists to his name last Sunday, it should come as no surprise that Zizzo is my choice for Man of the Match. Even better, however, was his ability to up his game from an already thoroughly impressive affair just one game prior against Toronto FC. While I have no doubt that he deserves MOTM based on Sunday's game alone, that kind of progression and desire to do better is commendable.
So there you have it. One for Darlington Nagbe, three for Sal Zizzo. Who is your personal man of the match for Sunday's game?