After two seasons of frequently dropping points in the dying minutes of matches, the Portland Timbers finally got a taste of what a stoppage time game-winner feels like when Andrew Jean-Baptiste put away a corner kick by Diego Valeri. Jeld-Wen Field was surely as loud as it has ever been after that goal.
Before that, it was a fairly evenly matched game, with each side getting a number of chances that they just couldn't quite put away. The Timbers pulled it out though, thanks to a few pretty special performances. Here are our picks for Man of the Match.
Will: Andrew Jean-Baptiste
AJB put in a solid match overall and on a day when some of the Timbers' most steady performers were shakey, AJB was a rock on the back line. He cut out numerous passes, shut down the Galaxy's crosses into the box, and managed to score kind of an important goal while he was at it.
Plus, AJB on his first thoughts after scoring: "I was just like, you know what, this shirt's coming off. I haven't gotten a yellow card in a while, so... Let me get a good yellow card for something that is worth it."
Another typical monster game for Ricketts, but his quality was especially necessary against a counter-attacking side like the Galaxy. He won't get save of the week for it, because it wasn't technically a save, but slide tackling Gyasi Zardes was the play of the game. Ricketts deserves a huge share of credit for making AJB's winner a winner.
Bruce Arena called him the greatest MLS keeper of all time before the game. Ricketts backed up his old coaches word with a stellar performance that ensured the Timbers were still able to earn a full three points. His reactionary save on Junhino after seeing the ball coming over the wall was world class. His anticipation when he came off the line in the dying moments of the first half was a ballsy move that turned out to be the right one. We are finally seeing why he was considered an "upgrade".Honorable Mention goes to efilnikusfsin for making the sacrifice and making the go ahead sundae in the 65th minute of the game.
The way I look at this match is, despite all other accomplishments by other players (namely Ricketts), would the Timbers be walking away with three points had he not been in the game? In all imagined situations I just don't see how they would. Therefore, he's easily my Man of the Match.
AJB was already near the top of my MOTM candidates for an awesome performance on defense, but he sealed the deal when he sealed the game for the Timbers. It's hard to overstate what an accomplishment it is to be part of a back line that has kept Robbie Keane from scoring through two recent matches. And then, for him to put that header on frame in a congested box with two Galaxy players trying to challenge him for the ball? Amazing. It was a great night for AJB.