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Recap: Portland vs the Wiz

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Quick Recap:

Portland once again has a horrific start to the game, giving up 2 goals in the first 20 minutes of the game. They continue to work and get one back before half but to no avail as the 2nd half has no goals. Portland goes down 2-1. 

First Half:

True to his word John Spencer made two major changes to the starting line-up. Steve Purdy and Eddie Johnson were inserted for Kenny Cooper and Jeremy Hall. The first 10 mins already showed a world of difference for the Portland Timbers. Posession was there, great service to the forwards and even Diego Chara was able to join the attack with a long distance try in the 11th minute that was deflected out for a corner. 

More after the Jump

Despite the added possession one mistake in the first 15 minutes once again led to an early goal against the Timbers. Eric Brunner tried to win a ball despite not having a great position to win and got turned. Which Sporting Kansas City gladly put the ball in the back of the net. It only got worse after that with a long throw in the 19th minute finding a wide open Aurelian Collin for an easy header into the goal. 

After the second Goal you could almost see the team start to tighten up and get really anxious. Portland wanted things to happen and worked hard for it to happen but it didn't happen. lt was the definition of insanity, trying the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. 

As the first half progressed it became evident that the Timbers were lacking that link up between the Midfield and the Forwards. A dynamic playmaker, a number 10 if you will. The shell that goes around a true number 10 is there. 

And yet just before half Kalif Alhassan won a free kick 40 yards out near the touch line. Then Captain Jack Jewsbury hit a great ball to the back post that the KC keeper had to punch clear. The ball fell to Darlington Nagbe at the corner of the box, which Nagbe settled beautifully juggled the ball to him self twice (I saw the replay in the MLS site) and hit a half volley that hit the far netting. Already I can tell you this, Goal of the week for sure, at the very least one that is going to be voted on. The goal brought the crowd back into it and gave Portland some momentum heading into the locker room.

Stats: Portland had 3 shots and 1 Corner. Sporting had 5 Shots with 0 Corners.

Second Half:

Both teams came out at a hectic pace trying to get another goal and this lead to some end to end soccer. With the best chance for a goal coming in the 51st minute when KC got to the end-line and hit a ball back across the box to a wide open player who luckily hit it in the direction of a diving Troy Perkins who stopped the shot with his knees. The rebound was then cleared away by Rodney Wallace.

Portland did keep up the pressure while KC looked to counter, the pressure almost got the Timbers a goal when Chara sprang Perlaza with a great ball into the box. Perlaza's shot was parried out for a corner by Jimmy Nielsen. 3 minutes or so later Eddie Johnson had a nice shot curl just wide of the goal. 

Tempers really started to fray as KC really challenged the ref after almost every call. Which got the the ref to give some sympathy calls much to the chagrin of the crowd. 20 mins into the second half saw the return of Kenny Cooper to the pitch. On his first touch he did get a good header on goal but because the ball was coming from straight up in the air he got no power on the ball.

The Timbers second sub came in the 72 minute as Sal Zizzo came on for Alhassan. Since Zizzo came on it was almost as if the Timbers were all gassed and had tired legs. Balls seemed to miss their intended targets and balls sprang off the feet when trapped. 

To counter this lack of energy James Marcelin came on for the goal scorer Nagbe. With Marcelin in the Timbers went to a 4-3-3 hoping to get the equalizer. This change exposed Portland and it showed when Perkins had to make a save in the 81st minute. On the second corner after that save Portland dodged a bullet when a volley went just wide of the goal. And again in the 83rd minute when a ball went through the box after a strong run down the wing from KC's Chance Myers.

Portland continues to battle until the final whistle and almost got the equalizer as Captain Jack hit a worm burner in the 89th minute that went just wide of the goal. In the end it wasn't enough as Portland couldn't pull it back. Once again a heart breaker at home. 

Observations:

  • Rodney Wallace is still unsure at times and when he is unsure he just hoofs it the field and the Timbers lose possession.
  • After the second Wiz Score Collin ran over to the old Beer Garden area and took a drink of one of the fans adult beverages.... I wonder if there is a FIFA rule on that. 
  • In the first half Chara seemed to sit too deep and Jewsbury to close to the forwards. This left a huge gap in the midfield which I will try and discuss more later.
  • Good to see the TA police themselves. An over exuberant fan(s) took umbrage to C.J. Sapong's goal celebration and threw some stuff at him. After that the TA chanted don't throw "stuff" on the pitch while pointing at the offending section.
  • For as much energy as Sal Zizzo has he needs to learn to notch it back a bit. He goes 0 or 60, he needs to find the 35 every once in a while.
  • Eddie Johnson distributes better than Cooper up front but can't handle as much physicality as Cooper can.