Last Saturday saw the Portland Timbers take on Swden's AIK in their final preseason game before First Kick this Sunday. It was, in many respects, the probably starting line up that we can expect come the regular season barring maybe a couple positions. Of course, the game didn't turn out as many would expect, but in the end it served its purpose. Just one more game of preparation before facing off against the New York Red Bulls.
Here are the individual player ratings:
Donovan Ricketts - 4
Ryan: Ricketts showed that he has the ability to make saves but almost all of the saves were shots that were right at him. Granted they were lasers and coming in fast and hard but if any of them were to his side they would have been goals. He has shown if the shot makes him move laterally at all it stands a good chance of going in.
Ryan Miller - 6
Andy: I like what I've seen out of our starting fullbacks this preseason; I hope they don't get injured, as there's not a lot of depth behind them.
Stacey: His whole game could be pretty well summed up by a few seconds in the 16th minute, when AIK got a dangerous break. When Henok Goitom cut the ball back from the goal line, hoping it would find a teammate in the box, instead in found Tucker-Gangnes, who received it like it was a pass meant for him and calmly passed it up the field to Diego Valeri.
Andy: After getting numerous chances to show his quality on the preseason first team, it'll be interesting to see whether he gets to continue in that role, after spending the first half bombing the ball forward and allowing himself repeatedly to get drawn out of position. He improved in the second half, contributing some strong headers and interceptions, as well as a terrific opportunity on goal off a corner kick to the far post, but he'll need to show more consistency and maturity to keep his starting role this year.
Ryan: Portland's outside backs are asked to do a lot in Caleb Porter's system and against AIK it was no different. He got forward well and tracked back after getting forward. The way he kept moving after passing to Nagbe in the box is exactly what needs to happen in the new system and because of this he gets a decent 6.
Diego Chara - 6
Ryan: When Portland turned the ball over in the central area of the field and it looked like AIK was about to get the ball into a dangerous area Chara came to save the day. Chara's offensive contributions were not what they needed to be but they were not as vital to the tie as his defensive stops.
Diego Valeri - 6
Stacey: Diego Valeri looked a little disappointed after the game, which was surprising because he had put on another very solid performance. A few of his passes to Nagbe and Ryan Johnson nearly became assists and he challenged the AIK keeper with a couple shots and one excellent direct free kick.
Will Johnson - 6
Andy: I'm really going to like watching Johnson and Chara continue to improve their working relationship over the course of this season, if they both are able to keep their current roles on the squad. It's almost like a buddy cop movie -- one guy's a break-all-the-rules, anything-to-solve-the-case type, the other is ... pretty much the same guy. Opposing attackers are going to hate this movie; I think I'm gonna like it.
Kalif Alhassan - 6
Will: Kalif continued his impressive preseason showings with yet another impressive attacking effort paired with a not-awful defensive one. In fact, Kalif several times did well to pick the pocket of an attacking AIK player and come away cleanly with the ball. On Saturday we got to see all those things that one expects from a Kalif Alhassan performance: step-overs, miraculously keeping the ball despite dribbling through multiple defenders, jazz-hands, and some poorly weighted passes to kill off a promising Timbers attack or two. Overall a positive showing, but far from a complete one.
Ryan Johnson - 5
Ryan: R. Johnson had some good runs throughout the game and helped keep possession on numerous occasions but as usual a forward is judged on if he was able to put the ball in the back of the net and he was not able to do so. He did take some shots that forced saves but nothing which was too difficult for the keeper.
Darlington Nagbe - 7
Stacey: In the last couple preseason games, Nagbe has looked a lot more like the player fans have been hoping to see and Saturday night was his best performance yet. He still needs to work on finishing-he sent a great opportunity wide in the first half-but at least he didn't look afraid to shoot. His assist on the goal was beautiful piece of work as well. He managed to keep the ball in bounds and turn, while shielding off an AIK defender, to see Michael Harrington running into the box.
Ryan: When he came on he changed the game with his fresh legs. He constantly chased down tired defenders and when he got the ball he attacked with gusto. All of his energy created chances but despite all of his hard work he was unable to find the net with the one good opportunity he had. If he continues to be the late game super sub he could be the Timbers' Alan Gordon.
Ryan: Another late game sub that changed the game. His ability to win the long balls and also link up with the midfielders really helped Portland keep up the offensive pressure on AIK. He had one shot that was just wide of the goal after a good buildup and a couple of other passes that could have lead to goals.
What did you think of the team that played Saturday night?