The Timbers scraped out a 1-0 win over the LA Galaxy in a result that, despite ending in the same score as last week's game against the Colorado Rapids, seemed like a much better result. Despite losing the possession battle over 90 minutes and only completing 72% of their passes, the Timbers seemed to put in a much more complete shift this time around.
Good performances came from all over the pitch, so we selected our picks for yesterday's Man of the Match here:
Michael - Jack Jewsbury
It wasn't necessarily the cleanest match, but Jewsbury was very effective in disrupting the Galaxy's attempts to spring Gyasi Zardes. By occupying LA's explosive youngster, particularly in making runs into the attacking third, Jewsbury gave the Timbers a different look than usual. He combined well with Darlington Nagbe and the central midfielders, and did well to bail out other defenders on several occasions. In a game that required a bit more intelligence than just pure speed and skill, Jewsbury stood out.
Stacey - Will Johnson
The whole team started the game with more energy than we often see from them early on, but more than anyone else it was the captain who came out swinging, putting the pressure on LA's midfield right away and keeping them from finding their rhythm. Johnson had four tackles, six interceptions, and 14 recoveries against the Galaxy, and he kept that up all game. When LA was pushing for a goal and the Timbers were getting pinned back, Johnson was trying to pressure the Galaxy higher up the field, and urging a few of his teammates to do the same. His refusal to simply sit back and wait for them to attack probably made it harder for the Galaxy to lay siege to Ricketts' goal the way they would have liked to as they scrambled to get a result from this game.
Ryan - Maximiliano Urruti
There are multiple worthy candidates but the way the defenses for both teams were playing it was going to take something special to break the deadlock. Urruti's goal was exactly what one would expect from a true fox in the box. His goal was not his only contribution as he hustled for the whole time he was on the pitch. His pesky play created numerous turnovers on hurried long balls he forced LA to play and this will always be the first line of defense for Portland.
Will - Maximiliano Urruti
Last week the common refrain was that Urruti pressured well, but that any forward playing the Timbers' system would have to pressure well. This week Urruti pressured well again, plus he lasted longer, combined better with his teammates, and he scored a goal in a manner that nobody has any business attempting, let along succeeding at.
There are our picks, but what are yours? Vote in the poll below and let us know why in the comments.