After going down twice thanks to some errors at the back (you know the ones that I am talking about, but if you don't then go here), the Timbers were able to control the second half of last night's match and show off the kind of football that they want to play. The team's control of the ball was able to break down a tightly packed New York defense and bring the Timbers back into the game, finally tying things up 3-3 and pushing for a game-winner as time expired.
So who was the Timbers' stand-out player in the team's intense fight back against the Red Bulls? Here are our votes:
Andy: Diego Valeri
Besides contributing a goal of the week contender, Valeri showed Timbers fans exactly what they've been missing over the past two years -- a guy who can orchestrate the offense, distribute the ball, and finish. If he does every day what he did on Sunday, the Timbers are going to score a lot of goals.
Stacey: Diego Valeri
Likely MOTM even if he hadn't scored the Timbers' opening goal, Valeri was pulling the strings in the midfield all night. It was really impressive how often Valeri was able to maneuver the ball and get a pass off even as New York's defense collapsed on him. He really does appear to be, as Caleb Porter said after the game, "worth every penny."
Ryan: Diego Valeri
I really wanted to find someone else but the more I looked for someone else the more I realized how integral Valeri was to Portland's success. If he wasn't scoring, he was putting the ball in the right spots to create dangerous chances or he was shooting from distance. He should have gotten an assist on the second goal as a hard shot which creates a rebound is essentially an assist. His work rate after Portland loses the ball is also amazing as he tracks back to win the ball quickly and to apply pressure on the ball so that the defense can recover. He is everything you want in a DP and if he continues to play like he did Timber fans are in for a real treat this season.
Geoff: Diego Valeri
This one is an absolute no brainer. From the beautiful goal he hand delivered to the Portland Timbers fans, to the constant creative pressure and attack, there is simply no way to discredit Diego Valeri as being the best player on the field last night. Technically he was making moves that put Thierry Henry's performance to shame. Finally, to put a cherry on top, his heart was 100% in the game. At no point did he (or really any of the Timbers) look defeated. Never once did I think he had given up. At every moment, he looked like the Timbers were going to win the game. And they damn near did. One game certainly doesn't make a player's career, but if Valeri can bring this kind of consistency to every game... wow.
Will: Will Johnson
Will Johnson spent 96 minutes last night showing just why you want him on your team and why you hate him when he is on somebody else's. For all the sublime skill showed off by Diego Valeri or the fantastic speed and dribbling of Darlington Nagbe, the thing that most stuck with me was the fire Johnson showed on the pitch when keeping his teammates in the game after going down 3-1 (and throwing the New York trainer's water bottles off the pitch). Vitally though, for all of his passion Johnson's play was cold and calculating with pinpoint crosses switching the point of attack and pulling the packed-in New York defense out of alignment.
There are our picks, but what are yours? Vote in the poll below and let us know why in the comments.