The Portland Timbers put together their best performance of the season so far when they took on Real Salt Lake on Saturday. It was not enough, however, and the Timbers fell short, losing 1-0 thanks to a 78' goal from Ned Grabavoy, a string of excellent saves that made Nick Rimando the MLS Player of the Week, and the usual excellent play from RSL as a whole.
Despite losing, there were a number of good performances from the Timbers and a number of good spots to build from as the team tries to get their season in gear. The Timbers edged out their opponents in possession, shots on target, and passes completed by narrow margins in each category and left us with plenty of choices for the Timbers's Man of the Match.
Here are our picks from Saturday's match. Check them out and share yours in the comments below.
Ryan: Will Johnson
It was hard to pick one person, especially after feeling disappointed with the result, but I settled on the one who was playing against his old team. Will looks like he has finally shaken off the early season doldrums and is inching closer to his 2013 form. He was joining the attack much more than he did in the first few games and was in good positions. Defensively he was all over the place putting out fires with his midfield partner Diego Chara. This might have been Will's best game this season.
Stacey: Diego Chara
I think Ryan is on point in giving a nod to Johnson and I want to applaud the other half of that midfield duo as well. The Timbers midfield matched up well with Real Salt Lake's, possibly better than they ever did last season, and it's because these two were in good form last night. With five tackles, 10 recoveries and a couple of interceptions, Chara was definitely a nuisance to RSL in the midfield. I'm not sure the Timbers would have gotten a foothold in this game without him.
Will: Futty Danso
This was a tough one. The forwards looked dangerous, the defense held strong, and the midfield went toe to toe with one of the best in the league. Johnson and Chara were their usual reliable selves and are deserving of high praise, but it was the defensive pairing of Futty Danso and Pa Modou Kah that most stood out. Holding RSL to a single goal is the best the Timbers have ever done in Salt Lake, equaling their previous best effort, 2011's 1-1 draw. Between the two defenders, the honors have to go to Futty, who cleared chance after chance until the off-ball movement of RSL eventually pulled the Timbers' defense out of their shape.
Who was your Man of the Match against Real Salt Lake?