The Portland Timbers returned from Utah with three points from their 3-1 win over Real Salt Lake on Saturday. Timbers fans are still marveling at the unique spectacle of a Timbers' win at Rio Tinto Stadium, even if it was over a depleted RSL squad.
The game got off to a rough start for the Timbers, but thanks to the team's possession and incisive attacking play, they were able to wear down RSL in the end. This was a match with plenty of quality from the Timbers, giving anyone looking to pick the Man of the Match and excellent dilemma.
Here are our picks. Make sure to share yours by voting in the poll below and letting us know why in the comments.
Michael: Donovan Ricketts
Fanendo Adi is going to get plenty of (deserved) recognition here but Ricketts made some big saves to keep the score close enough for the Timbers attackers to wrest control of the game.
Stacey: Diego Valeri
There are a lot of different reasons why the Timbers attack suddenly looks so dangerous; the addition of Fanendo Adi and a very in-form Maximiliano Urruti both help, for example. But the importance of Valeri returning to form really can't be overstated. His service on the corner kick for the first goal was perfect and he earned the penalty kick while making a strong effort to set Adi up for his third. With that said, I'm picking him with the assumption that at least one and probably more of my fellow writers will pick Adi, who had another great game.
Kevin: Fanendo Adi
I will cop out and choose the Adi-dos. Credit to a fantastic strike rate with four goals and two assists in 200 some odd minutes. I wanted to pick Nagbe because of how dangerous he was but he is always dangerous. With Dallas at home up next I can see Nagbe getting his tally (& perhaps a MOTM pick) on Wednesday.
Ryan: Gaston Fernandez
Gaston Fernandez played a pivotal role in the Timbers attack and this freed up Nagbe and Valeri. A lot of his work would be considered dirty work but it was necessary to the flow of the Timbers attack. The combination of Adi and La Gata proved too much for the usually stout defense of RSL.
Will: Fanendo Adi
Real Salt Lake has a pair of big, able defenders in Chris Schuler and Nat Borchers, a pairing that have given Timbers forwards fits over the last year. Yesterday, Adi tossed them around with little apparent effort, most prominently fighting through Schuler's grapple to get to the ball on the Timbers' first goal. Honorable mentions go to just about everyone in the attack though, as arguments could be made for Gaston Fernandez, Diego Valeri, or Darlington Nagbe.
Who was your pick for the Timbers' Man of the Match? Vote in the poll below and let us know why in the comments.