Caleb Porter's system of possession-based, quick passing offense worked very well for the first half of the season. Teams adjusted by pressing higher and not allowing Timbers to be comfortable on the ball. Other teams' tactic of pressing higher opened up an opportunity to for counter-attacking.This is counter to the possession-based system because it opens up the game and results in less net possession by the Timbers because on the counter the ball isn't kept as long.
Recently Porter decided to take off the reins and allow the team to try to take advantage of the high pressure by counter-attacking. Unfortunately, the team hasn't capitalized on the opportunities to counter-attack very well. They have created opportunities, but have not scored as much. The reason, I think, is the team isn't accustomed to counter-attacking. Coach Porter didn't invest as much time in to training them to score on the counter, and they weren't really built to counter so they probably don't quite have the personnel. The games have opened up more, which has compounded the problem of lack of depth by requiring the player's to cover more ground while enjoying less possession.
OVerall, taking off the reins and encouraging the players to counter-attack hasn't worked, but it also hasn't not worked. They still have defended well, possessed the ball well, albeit less than before, and created opportunities. They continue to be competitive against the top teams, getting results or losing by one goal while creating multiple, high quality goal scoring chances. It should be interesting to see if the Timbers players adjust and become more comfortable scoring on the counter, or if they don't. The difference could be a shot at the supporter's shield and success in the playoffs. Go Timbers.