Well I bet that isn't how Caleb Porter thought this game would go. The Portland Timbers looked out of sync even though they trotted out one of their stronger line-ups. The Timbers offensive woes might have been caused by the improved Colorado Rapids and the fact that the Rapids had not been shut out in a game since July 13th.
From the first whistle you could tell that the Rapids were a vastly different team, the same could be said of Portland, than the last time they visited and lost 3-0. The Rapids were flying around the pitch and applying high pressure to disrupt Portland's passing game. It worked. Portland looked out of sync and had a difficult time keeping possession. With the offense out of sync Portland tried to use their own high pressure to generate offensive chances.
In the 13th minute they were able to do exactly that. Maximiliano Urruti chased down the ball being passed between the two Colorado center backs and forced Drew Moor into a poor clearance. The clearance went right to Rodney Wallace, who hit a long header right up the center of the field to Diego Valeri. Valeri was cool as a cucumber as he deftly chipped Clint Irwin from 18 yards out. Irwin could do nothing but watch the ball float over him and into the back of the net.
The goal was exactly what the Portland Timbers needed after giving up the first goal in the last three games, which lead to only 1 point earned. Colorado was just a used to giving up the initial goal as they had done four times in their last six matches but they had earned 5 points during those 4 games. The confidence they gained from those four games helped them continue to press Portland and to be the aggressor.
Portland absorbed Colorado's attacks, sometimes in nerve racking fashion, and when they couldn't absorb the pressure they gave up a corner. The corners where all sorts of fun. On numerous occasions Portland was able to win the first ball but the clearance was not good enough and the Rapids were able to easily win the second ball, which lead to another dangerous ball into the box and more anxious moments. Every corner Portland gave up twisted my stomach into knots and I fully expected a goal.
The second half was much like the first half. The game devolved into a scrappy contest which required Portland to dig deep and show grit instead of technical ability. Colorado won more corners and each time it seemed to take Portland longer and longer to finally clear the ball. When Portland wasn't giving the fan base a collective heart attack on the corners they were doing so because of their shoddy clearances.
Either Futty Danso or Pa Madou Kah would try to clear a Colorado cross and it would go backwards or right to a Colorado player. When the shoddy clearances did occur the defense, Will Johnson and Diego Chara scrambled to get in front of the Colorado attackers to stop the dangerous chances. Thankfully most of the time Portland was able to block the pass or the shot before Donovan Ricketts was called upon to make a save.
The last 20 minutes of the game Portland finally started to possess the ball and when Colorado pushed numbers forward they countered. Those counters and possession led to 4 shots, out of their 9 total, which helped salt the game away.
- This was a scrappy win and I would think a lot of games that are left will be scrappy games.
- Urruti's hustle forced Colorado's CBs into a quite a few errant passes. Great to see from someone that people have characterized as a "fox in the box".
- Great to see Futty back, even though he looked rust at times, he sure looks like a calming influence.
- Valeri and Will Johnson are not 100%. You can tell they are still nursing their injuries.