Welcome to yet another player ratings! I'm happy to report that, well, we have something happy to report this week as the Portland Timbers put in an overall valiant effort in securing three much needed points in this year's Cascadian Cup competition. While the regular MLS season remains dismal, at least the Timbers are looking like a strong candidate for taking home the regional cup.
Additionally, it was nice just seeing the Timbers put in an effort that has, unfortunately, been sorely lacking of late. I think this might be the first game in months where the Timbers performed confidently in the forward, midfield, and defensive positions for the entire 90 minutes. That kind of team work is something we need to see every game, home and away, but it was nice to just see it at all after so long.
Here are our player ratings:
Donovan Rickets: 6
Will: Ricketts came up with two big saves (and host of smaller ones) thanks to his positioning, reflexes, and impressive wingspan. His kicks were questionable but when he elected to throw the ball up field he was able to connect well and start a quick counter in a way that Perkins only managed two or three times in his entire tenure with the Timbers.
Will: Kimura started right back off where he left things before getting elbowed in the face by Tim Cahill, looking solid and playing much more effectively than earlier in the season. He did make one mistake in not tracking Kenny Miller closely on the goal as the wily Scot drifted into his area, but otherwise Kimura has a good game with limited forays into the attack and concentration on defense that allowed Sal Zizzo to contribute effectively at the other end of the pitch.
6 Edit: 5 (I meant for this to be a five, but Geoff and I had a miscommunication. Sorry I didn't get to this until late in the day. -Will)
Will: Horst was Horst. He was agressive, dangerous in the air, and made a few interceptions that could have been very bad if he had missed them. Good but scary play from the big guy.
Will: Mosco was, as usual, the opposite of Horst. Mosquera was calm, composed, and had a quiet game in exactly the way you want from your defenders.
Steven Smith: 7
Ryan: Smith shut down his side of the pitch defensively with little help from the wing. He also had the game saving save because of positioning and being where he needed to be.
Andy: What's impressive about our three central midfielders was that they played a completely different game without Chara in the lineup, and they did so successfully. With the Great Disruptor serving a suspension, all three center mids had to combine more on defense, and they all did a swell job at it. Moreover, Jewsbury and Alexander were incredibly effective in setting up the offense, including assisting Nagbe's goal. Some may disagree, but I chalk that adaptability up to a 250-MLS-game career -- I'm glad he was on the field on Saturday.
Eric Alexander: 6
Ryan: It's great to see the players playing in roles they actually play naturally. He also filled in well for Chara and now forces the coaching staff to question the starting line-up and to try and figure out how to get Alexander more playing time.
Will: Nagbe was an offensive dynamo for the Timbers on Saturday night. We have gotten used to seeing his quick turns and bursts of speed, but he is now using them to great effect in the space opened up by a more mobile group of attacking players. As the first Timbers player to score in three consecutive games, he has made history this season and if he can continue his current level Nagbe could find himself counted among the Timbers legends soon enough.
Sal Zizzo: 6
Will: Another solid performance for Zizzo leaves me wondering what Kalif Alhassan will have to do once he is back and game fit. Although he was not directly involved in each goal this game, Sal keeps showing why he should be picked for the starting eleven. Zizzo has a solid showing with strong runs and passes and even some good work on defense to round out the night.
Bright Dike: 6
Will: Dike gave the Vancouver defense fits with his movement, strength, and aerial ability, all of which almost saw him open the scoring as he bounced a header off the bar early on in the match. Although his play on the ball was not always what it needed to be, his play off the ball opened up space for the rest of the Timbers attack to work in.
Andy: Franck was my man of the match, and while it's true that his work wasn't great in the defensive half, his presence on the field late in the match (something we haven't seen a lot of, since he's usually subbed off) was a big reason the Whitecaps were unable to create a serious scoring chance in the crucial final ten minutes. His ability to hold up the ball and take it to the corner with little or no help from his teammates took time off the clock and allowed the back line to relax a bit. Oh, and he scored the winning goal and led the team in both shots and shots on target.
Ryan: Did what a late sub was supposed to do and brought on more energy to help see the game out.
Danny Mwanga: N/A
Will: Mwanga was thrust into a role that he has rarely looked good in during his time in MLS: the target striker. Somewhat surprisingly, he did well up top for the Timbers. Mwanga used his big frame well to hold up the ball and provide a good outlet and good hold up play as the Timbers were under pressure late, doing just what the team needed to see the game out.
Lovel Palmer: N/A
Will: Lovel came out, wasted some time, and didn't do anything as far as I remember.
So there you have it. Thoughts on how the team played as a whole? Sound off in the comments!