It's that time of the week again. San Jose managed to come back after Portland held the lead and the quotes reflect that comeback. The stats also show that Portland wasn't as dominate as they have been this season with only 50.9% of the possession and the worst passing accuracy of the year. For this week's chalk talk I take a look at why San Jose was able to play their brand of soccer, specifically at the long balls.
Portland Timbers Quotes
Timbers head coach Caleb Porter
"We leave a little disappointed because we had three points in our hands. But when the dust settles, it's still a point on the road. If you look at the two-game series against San Jose, we make up three points. It was tough to give the goal away at the end, but they're a tough team. [Adam] Jahn got loose and found the ball and that's all they needed. I'm proud of my guys and I thought we managed certain parts very well."
Thoughts of on physicality of the two games:
"That's soccer, it's part of the game. San Jose ties that into their game. With balls bouncing around and bodies banging around, it's going to happen. Against San Jose you have to be up for what they will throw your way for 90 minutes."
Timbers midfielder Will Johnson
On games against San Jose:
"They are what they are; you know what you're getting. We have taken what we have with the opportunities that came our way."
On playing style:
"I have my responsibility to get the guys on the field going. I feel that I can make that happen and we can find ways to get the three-points every game. We are still trying to grind out results and, of course, slowly but surely we keep getting things going."
On team's performance:
"I thought it was a great performance tonight by all. Of course, giving up the late goal is not the easiest thing to swallow. But, if we were down that goal and came back to tie, we would feel just as great as San Jose does. We have to take a step back now and realize it's still a point. Momentum wise, we will keep moving forward."
Thoughts on physicality:
"That's just how San Jose plays each and every week. I didn't think a lot of what happened last week was going to boil over tonight. It's just the nature of the game and when you play the same guys two games in a row, it's bound to get as physical as it did."
Timbers goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts
Thoughts on the two matches against San Jose:
"I thought the two games were good. We played good football, but unfortunately, we didn't walk away with three-points [tonight]."
On Adam Jahn's goal:
"When you have long balls come into the box, anything can happen. He found a way to get free and look what happened. It's just part of the way this game works."
On head coach Caleb Porter:
"Caleb knows how to lead his team. He has come in here and treated us greatly and knows how to put together a winning team. Being with him has really gotten me to improve on my skills and to be the better player I always strived to be."
San Jose Earthquakes Quotes
Earthquakes head coach Frank Yallop
"We had enough chances to win the game and I thought we deserved to win. It wasn't the prettiest game to be honest but we dug deep and got a point. That was important for us."
On late goal:
"For us not to score a goal in this game would not have been good with the quality of chances that we had. We had at least four good looks before the goal. Adam Jahn had another good finish and he is making me look good right now. He has done well for a young player. He didn't get in the past couple of games and tonight he proved again that he is a pretty good player."
Earthquakes forward Adam Jahn
On stoppage time equalizer:
"My teammates have the fitness and composure to fight until the end and I think that's what separates us from most teams. On that play, Nana [Attakora] got taken out and I thought it was a penalty, but the ref played on. The ball bounced my way and I opened my body like I was going far post, and then slotted it near post. The best part was it gave us a point here tonight."
On second half adjustments:
"The game was transitioning into us getting bodies in the box and that's one of my strengths; I enjoy fighting for balls in the air. When coach [Frank] Yallop subbed me on in the second half, he told me to wreak havoc in the box with [Steven] Lenhart. I think you saw that leading up to the equalizer."
Defender Steven Beitashour
"I feel they didn't really have any dangerous chances. On their goal, it was a lucky deflection that bounced straight to [Diego] Valeri. Bounces like that typically go our way, but when we play Portland it doesn't. You can't really explain it. I was so happy for Adam [Jahn] to come through in the clutch, again. The moment never seems to be too big for him."
On returning from injury:
"It felt great to get back out there. I made sure I had my fitness for tonight, my season debut. I was running off of excitement and adrenaline. I was tired toward the end, but I ended up finding my second wind because you want to make a play at any given moment in a match like this."
|San Jose Earthquakes||Portland Timbers|
|12||Attempts on Goal||7|
|5||Shots on Target||3|
|6||Shots off Target||2|
|19||Open Play Crosses||10|
|1||First Yellow Cards||2|
|0||Second Yellow Cards||0|
|53%||Duels Won %||46%|
|68%||Passing Accuracy %||73%|
In the first game Portland was able to shut down San Jose's favorite means of attack, namely the long ball. However in the second game Portland was unable to do so, which forced Portland to bunker and therefore led to more long balls and the late equalizer.
The image on the left is from game one and the image on the right is from game two -- both depict the headers won by the San Jose forwards. While the number can be significant it doesn't necessarily mean San Jose was effective in their use. However, the position is what jumps out to me more. Most of the headers in the first match were won on the sides of the field; in the second game the headers occurred centrally.
By winning the headers more towards the center of the pitch San Jose forced Will Johnson and Diego Chara to track back and win the second ball or cover the runners on the flick. In the first game this was done by the outside backs and therefore left Johnson and Chara free to be higher up the pitch, pinning San Jose back in their own end.
To further illustrate the point, here are Portland's two CB's clearances for the two games:
Again, the first game is on the left and the second game on the right. Like the images above, this too shows how deep Portland's CBs were forced. The purple (on the left) and dark red dots (on the right) are failed clearances. As you can see there are quite a few more failed clearances in the second game, and those failed clearances were more likely to occur inside the penalty area.