When Mikael went down against New England, many worried how the thin Timbers' D would compensate. Two games later, we are starting to see the results:
1. Porter has made some interesting defensive re-alignments. AJB is playing so wide to the right, he could be confused as a right back. Chara then steps back defensively, playing almost as the 4th defender next to Futty, so that the right back can spend more time upfield.
You end up in what often looks like a 3-4-3, with the left back staying more at home and Chara ready to step back to fill the gap between Futty and AJB. The right back has more license to get forward, allowing Nagbe to pinch in and play more centrally. It looks something like this:
2. Distribution was my major concern when we lost Silvestre. Dallas pressed Portland effectively. Both Futty and AJB's passing numbers were down significantly from other games (46 total passes between the two of them, vs. 102 against Chivas USA). Futty maintained his impressive passing accuracy. AJB was far less effective, completing about 50% of his passes against Dallas. So it is pretty clear the young defender still struggles with pressure, and this remains an ongoing concern.
I believe this is why Porter is bringing Chara closer to AJB, to provide AJB a simpler outlet. Chivas was not good enough to tell us if this will work in the long run, but we should know more after this stretch of road games.
Overall, Porter's doing a good job of adjusting his system to recover from the loss. The Timbers have conceded a single goal since Silvestre went down, and that on a nonsensical PK decision.