Unlike the messy slugfest of Game #1....this last game was actually interesting and showed some signs of structure and intent. (Despite Troy Perkins' heroics, it was also a quite winnable match and an opportunity squandered).
But for those of us who care about such things, this was really the first match of 2013 where the style and system of play was tangible. Some of those aspects (absent from previous games):
1) Possession and forward-back ball movement: there was many a stretch where the Timbers were able to connect 9 or 10 passes in a row and make Montreal play chase, while changing attack points to open up some chances. This is good.
2) Targets: something brand new here is the obvious intention to distribute the ball in the attacking third, mostly inside, to target players with their backs to goal. At first I thought this was just the midfielders having poorly positioned themselves, but it became evident that this was by design. A distribution to a player with back to goal who then would move the ball to find a teammate running vertically forward for a return pass or thru-ball. This isn't something we have seen before, regularly.
3) Small-Ball: Again, in game #1 I thought this was just poor play and players bunching up. But apparently not. It was evidence that the team was constructing scenarios of quick passes in closed quarters, oftentimes with 3 players near the ball.
4) Team shape: The wingbacks (outside FB's) regularly were positioning themselves so far upfield that the actual team shape resembled more a 2-6-2 than a 4-4-2 or 4-5-1. Interesting, again, allowing Jean Baptiste (another strong outing, BTW) and Silvestre (also a solid game) to anchor the back by themselves, primarily, and allowing Ryan and Harrington to play more in the vertical zone of Chara. This is almost a throwback to a 40+ year old shape of 2 deep fullbacks and 3 or 4 stoppers. Again, interesting...
So, there were some apparent good things going on. Now the question becomes....is this the group of players who can make it work ?
Honestly....both outside defenders generally played poor balls into the middle, although at times they weren't rushed to do so. Both Kimura and Smith of 2012 were better attacking FB's. Of course an argument can be made that they also tended to be a bit susceptible defensively.
Also, attackers such as Nagbe and Ryan Johnson tend to move best on vertical attacks. There were several times when the T's attackers had pretty good opportunities to just take the attack right to the Impact's defenders, possibly to beat 'em one-on-one or to split two....rather than looking to pass-off. In insisting on this new style of play, is Caleb not considering the natural talents of his particular players ? More straightforward runs with the ball might have proven very fruitful.
Next...can Will Johnson really contribute for more than around 60 minutes ? This is the second game where it was sorta evident that as time went on, he became less and less of a factor. I am not sure the team wouldn't be better served using him as a long-sub or a short starter (no pun intended).
Set plays were once again very poor. Timbers had a lot of 'em, and the quality of the balls in was quite bad...really forgettable. Meanwhile, Jack Jewsbury, the T's master of the set kick has yet to appear in either match.
Wondering what the lineup will look like for the Sounders match. That will be pretty revealing, actually.
BTW...Perkins was spectacular, but all in all, we didn't lose anything in acquiring Ricketts...they are just two very different 'keepers.