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Portland Timbers out muscle the Crew

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Quick Recap:

Portland Timbers come out flat in the first half but the Columbus Crew fail to capitalize. The Timbers come out strong in the second half and come away with their 3rd consecutive 1-0 home win.

First Half:

Columbus came out with a different formation than they usually use, going from a 4-5-1
to a traditional 4-4-2, as they were trying to combat the size of Portland's back line. This formation change allowed Columbus to keep a vast majority of the possession and which really slowed the game down in the first 15 mins of the game. When Portland did win possession the transition from defense to attack was quick. 

More after the Jump:

The first chance came off of a Columbus corner in the 8th minute but luckily Emilio Renteria got in the way of a header by his is striking partner Tommy Heinemann. From that corner on Portland was content to allow Columbus to possess and look for a turnover to start a quick counter. When the counter came Portland got the ball down the wings quickly but were unable to hit the final ball that would create the goal. 

Columbus had one chance to capitalize on the slow start by the Timbers in the in the 42nd minute. Jeremy Hall was almost caught napping as Heinemann got behind him and hit a diving header on frame. Troy Perkins then came up huge with a great reactionary save and got a hand on the ball pushing it wide for a corner.  

It was as if Portland thought they could win this game just by showing up. Columbus on the other hand came out trying to out muscle Portland to every ball and it almost paid off.

Portland had 0 shots on goal and Columbus had 2 usually at home the Timbers are the ones putting the pressure on. 

Second Half:

Whatever John Spencer said at half was exactly what the team needed. Less than a minute into the game and Portland was on the attack and drew a foul. Captain Jack Jewsbury got the ball set it down and slipped Kalif Alhassan into the penalty area who hot a great cross to Eric Brunner. Brunner happily put the ball into the back of the net against his old team. 

After the goal Portland looked like the Portland team we are used to seeing at home. All out attack with the ball going to the electric feet of Alhassan and Sal Zizzo. Columbus tried to turn up the pressure on Portland and get the equalizer. When they did Portland really looked dangerous on the counter. At one point Jorge Perlaza was taken down from behind by Julius James but the Ref refused to pull out the Red and settled for the yellow.

Columbus almost got the equalizer in the 86 minute on a quick turn and shot by Robbie Rodgers but the post was Perkins' best friend and directed the ball out for a goal kick. Portland from then on were able to kill the game and get the 1-0 win at home for the third straight game.

Observations:

  • Our Center Backs were not as dominant as they usually are in the air tonight but they did what they needed to do to win.
  • The unsung heroes of this game were Hall and Rodney Wallace. They shut down two dangerous wingers in Rodgers and Eddie Gaven.
  • Alhassan with another assist at home, the next step is to get one on the road
  • Captain Jack really knows how to set up the set pieces! 
  • Great job by Eric Brunner and scoring against his hometown/former team.
  • Portland did what good teams do, win when they don't play their best game.
  • Still on track for 51 points from home games!
  • Tied for second in the West with Seattle and Dallas.
  • Sal Zizzo looked great and really dangerous in the second half.
  • The Ref really let a lot go and refused to blow the whistle for any foul in the box.
  • Thoughts and prayers (if you are into that kind of thing) for Geoffrey C. Arnold the Timbers beat writer. He is having some heart problems. 
  • By far the most physical and chippy game the Timbers have had all year.
Thoughts and feelings about the game?

More on the post game comments from Spencer and Futty later.