Full Recap: Portland Struggles against the Goats

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

After a significant step in the right direction at home against Toronto the Portland Timbers took a step back on the road. Errant passes and giveaways in the back cost Portland the full three points as they struggled to breakdown a much improved Chivas USA defense.

Chivas USA are not the same team the Portland Timbers destroyed 3-0 at Jeld Wen on May 12th. Since receiving that beat down the Goats have added a veteran center back, changed coaches and added a dynamic striker through a loan with their parent club. Their record in the last 5 games has been 2 wins, 2 draws and only 1 loss and it looked like the Timbers did not get the message that this was a different Chivas team.

From the very start the team looked like they were lacking focus, especially in the back. Passes went to no one and sometimes they went directly to the other team. The offense sputtered and lacked any off the ball movement and was too direct against a team placing a lot of numbers behind the ball. Portland was very, very fortunate not to have given up 2 goals in the first 15 minutes of the game.

Pa Madou Kah was either trying to hit it across the pitch to Andrew Jean Baptiste or was trying to play the ball where he thought one of his teammates was supposed to be. Either way the ball went right to Carlos Alvarez about 40 yards from goal with no one in front of him and thankfully he chose to hit the long range shot which was stopped by Donovan Ricketts. The subsequent rebound was then cleared out of danger.

Kah's pass was the epitome of how Portland played in the first 20 minutes of the game. The back line looked like they wesleepwalking and their lackadaisical passing out of the back almost cost Portland, instead it was the defending that did end up costing Portland.

After Portland looked like they had found their feet and shook off their sluggish start Chivas scored a goal against the run of play. A cross was played into the box with, very little pressure from Sal Zizzo, towards four Portland players and one Chivas attacker. The only defender to actually jump and try and play the ball was diminutive Diego Chara. The others let Bryan De La Fuente head the ball unchallenged and his header looped over the to the far corner of the goal and in.

Once Chivas scored they parked the bus and had all 11 players behind the ball. Portland could not break down Chivas' defense and attack after attack died before they could create a solid goal scoring opportunity.

Caleb Porter recognized the attack's lack of teeth and inserted Diego Valeri at the restart. His inclusion on the game added a player who could unlock Chivas' defense and it didn't take long for him to do so. Portland scored a goal 5 minutes into the second half.

Unfortunately for Portland Valeri's goal was the second shot on goal of the game and ended up being the last shot on goal Portland would earn. All of the attacks either ended in blocked shots by defenders or the shots were not on target.

While the attack looked better with the inclusion of Valeri the defense continued to have issues. In the end neither offense was good enough to score the game winner.

Observations

  • Kah's distribution has been bad at times this year but in this game it was done right abysmal.
  • Kalif is a playmaker but only in a wide open game, he really struggled in breaking down Chivas' defense.
  • You cannot let 1 player beat 4 of yours in the box...
  • Portland is flirting with the 5th seed. I hope they get the 3rd or 4th instead, so we can have a home playoff game.
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