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Portland takes a step closer to a possible play-off spot

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PORTLAND, OR - AUGUST 24: My goal was this big! (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
PORTLAND, OR - AUGUST 24: My goal was this big! (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
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Quick Recap:

The Portland Timbers came out strong and continued the trend for most of the first half and were rewarded for their efforts. They then made that goal stick by keeping a clean sheet. 1-0 Timbers win.

First Half:

Portland continued it's trend of starting stronger than their opponents but this time it did not result in an early goal. However it did help Portland build their confidence all through out the half. There was no clear cut scoring chance for the Timbers in the first 5 minutes but the pressure did put Chivas USA on their heels. Added on top of all the pressure Chivas USA had to deal with they also had to deal with a really early injury to one of their defenders. 

Captain Jack Jewsbury, for the second straight game, seemed to sit deeper and Diego Chara played a more offensive role. This switching of roles has really changed the offensive flow for the Timbers and it showed again tonight. For the first 10 minutes of the game Portland out possessed a possession based team. Haven't been able to say that too often this season.

After the first 15 minutes both teams seemed to settle down and the game really became a back and forth affair with few actually chances on goal. Portland did win some and gave up some corners and free kicks which lead to half chances but nothing on frame. The first team to put a shot on frame was the Timbers in the 28th minute. Portland won a free kick at the top of the box and Captain Jack hit a good shot on frame but the keeper was in position to make the save.

From then on Portland continued to use set pieces to apply even more pressure as Chivas USA had 1 player over 6' and that was their Keeper. David Horst and Eric Brunner were the recipients of some great balls from Mike Chabala and Captain Jack. 

The service and runs were so good that Portland finally broke through on a great header from Eric Brunner on a near post run in the 44th minute. Portland easily took that lead to the locker room.

Second Half:

With the start of the Half the Timbers' FO decided to try and jinx the Timbers and sent out a tweet that said:

In all four games in which Brunner has scored (all competitions), the Timbers have kept a clean sheet. 

Luckily Portland came out of the locker room and played like they were still tied at 0-0 instead of up 1-0. Portland continued to look for the second goal but tried not to commit too many men forward and expose themselves to the equalizing goal. 

The momentum was securely on Portland's side but slowly Portland sat farther and farther back as Chivas USA keep pressing for the equalizer. It started in the 60th minute and kept up for the rest of the game. Even John Spencer's subs added to slow move to a bunker defense. Eric Alexander a midfielder came on for Kenny Cooper a forward. Moving to the 4-5-1 ceded possession to Chivas in the middle rather than stopping it. 

With that ceding of possession Portland increasingly became more defensive and more like the Timbers from the first of the year. You know the ones that hoped that the team didn't score only this time the Timbers were actually leading and not already down or about to concede.

Despite the run of possession Portland did have their chances to for the dagger but it seemed like the tired legs failed them on more than one occasion. 

The defensive effort was there tonight, even if they did get lucky when twice Chivas USA lacked quality to score golden opportunities. Portland pulled it out in the end and won a play-off like game for both teams. 

Observations:

  • I think Kenny Cooper had a great game and I can't recall a true "flop". He did go down easily once but got the call. He even got off a couple of good shots and won the aerial battles.
  • The switch of Captain Jack and Chara has paid off these last two games
  • Horst and Brunner were the reason we won, they scored and got shots on goals, they stopped the other team from scoring and basically were Men among boys.
  • I love Chabala and Captain Jack hitting those corners, the Timbers are so dangerous on the corners.
  • Great to see Troy Perkins get another clean sheet, he deserved one on Saturday too.
  • Kalif Alhassan needs to score, well not really but I really really really want him to.
  • Eric Brunner has 3 shots on goal this year and all three of them have been headers and all three of them have been goals. Talk about efficiency.
  • Sometimes luck is there because of effort and tonight was one of those nights

Your thoughts? Player ratings? Are we going to make the Play-offs?