I went into Wednesday's game with a slight ray of optimism and hope that f the Portland Timbers were able to focus and win on the road -- for the first time this season -- that they would then be in a decent position and shape to make a daring late-season play off run. As slight a chance that might be, it was there prior to the game against the Colorado Rapids. Fast forward to today and things are back to normal...
When you really look at it, it's quite bizarre how a team can go from the level and quality of play that we saw in the previous two games to what we saw in Colorado. Truthfully, it's almost fascinating how a team can be so awful on the road as compared to home. I'm not going to give them any excuses as there are none left. Instead we'll just call it like it is: the Timbers aren't good enough to win away from home. Simple as that.
Here are our player ratings:
Ryan: There was nothing he could have done differently which would have made this game any better. He was in the positions he needed to be and his distribution was much better.
Andy: Colorado had a game plan, and that plan was to exploit Kimura. Worked brilliantly.
David Horst: 3
Will: After matching up perfectly against Conor Casey, Horst looked completely out of his element when going up against the much more mobile Andre Akpan. Horst makes risky decisions, which looked good for the last two games, but against Colorado they were back to not paying off.
Will: Mosco seemed off his game in a big way against the Rapids. Several times over the course of the game he completely lost track of his man and stopped to look around while play developed around him. Maybe I am just holding him to a high standard after being the team's rock at the back (comparatively) for most of the season, but this was a bad game from Mosquera.
Steven Smith: 6
Will: He wasn't involved in the attack as his teammates never seemed to look his way, but Smith was making great runs all night and could have been a big part of the teams attack if everyone else on the pitch would just play him a good ball. On defense, he was by far the least objectionable player for the Timbers. The only things that keeps me from giving him a seven is the needless yellow card he picked up for kicking the ball away. He should be frustrated by the goings on around him, but now he will miss the huge match against Seattle next week.
Will: On a night when the defense was falling apart, Jewsbury couldn't do much to pull them back from the abyss. He didn't contribute much to the attack either, although nobody really did.
Diego Chara: 5
Andy: It's possible that Diego had a little more room to work with than some of his teammates, but even with the midfield clogged, he still managed to continue passing with the same accuracy we've seen from him for most of the season. Card-worthy handballs are no good, though.
Ryan: Yes Colorado specifically game planned for Nagbe and Chara in the midfield but if you are the best player on the team that will happen a lot. Nagbe needs to get a little more cocky and just say to himself "Screw it" I am taking over this game.
Sal Zizzo: 4
Andy: Zizzo did more with the ball than anyone else on the team -- that's the good news. The bad news is that he didn't get the ball as much as he has in recent games.
Andy: Franck the Tanck worked hard at Colorado, certainly harder than he had worked in June, when he was removed in the 38th minute. Sadly, he didn't have much to show for the work he put in.
Bright Dike: 3
Will: Dike's runs were ineffective on the night and, popularity notwithstanding, they were what was making him a valuable part of the first team so he needs to make the right decision or risk losing his spot in the starting eleven.
Kris Boyd: 5
Will: Boyd helped set up the Timbers best scoring opportunity of the night and made a few energetic runs, despite some cracks from the announcers about his less than chiseled physique. There could be hope yet for the Fox in the Box here in Portland.
Danny Mwanga: N/A
Will: Mwanga was quite active during his short shift on the pitch, dropping back into the midfield to combine and find possession. Although he was not able to get a shot off, his passing was effective and he got involved, which is a good quality to have in a substitute.
Mike Fucito: N/A
Will: Not on for long and not able to get anything going while he was on.