The Timbers' win over the Vancouver Whitecaps last night put them at the top of the Cascadia Cup standings and pushed the team up a place to 17th overall in the league standings. Yesterday's win came with some close calls on both ends of the pitch, but again it was the team's attacking play that looked the most impressive with key contributions coming from players all across the pitch.
With the Timbers improved fortunes they did not make it easy to pick a player to nominate as the Man of the Match. Luckily, this time we were spoiled for choice rather than lacking choices as was the case on three or four games ago.
Geoff - Darlington Nagbe
This was a tough one, but I had to go with Darlington Nagbe.
The kid just keeps getting better and is exactly what the Portland Timbers needed. It wasn't only the fact that he got the much needed and deserved goal, but also his consistent work rate near the front. He showed the sort of aggressive edge that the Timbers have been desperately lacking. I'm not sure if it has something to do with the combination of working with Bright Dike and Sal Zizzo, or if he finally just figured out his role, but what he's doing these days is perfect.
Special mention to both Donovan Ricketts and Steven Smith on the defensive side as well.
Check out the rest of our Man of the Match picks and vote on your own after the jump.
Andy - Franck Songo'o
During the past few weeks it's been difficult to pick out men of the match because of how poorly everyone has played. It was hard to pick one out on Saturday because of how well everyone played. My pick goes to Franck Songo'o for his determination and leadership for the full 90 minutes. He was more vocal than I think I've seen anyone in the offense be in the whole MLS history of the team. He kept his energy up the whole way through and still had enough left in the late stages of the game, when he did his part to keep possession and pressure in the attacking half.
Darlington Nagbe was a very close second for me, and numerous other players were right in line behind him.
Will - Darlington Nagbe
The transformation of Darlington Nagbe over the course of the last three games has been amazing. After being roundly criticized for hesitation and downright timidity going forward earlier in the season, it is like somebody flipped a switch as Nagbe has become the engine that drives the Timbers' attack forward.
With the speed and work rate of Bright Dike in front of him, Nagbe has really been able to take over the attack and be a real influence on the game. It is starting to look like we can see the light at the end of this long dark season and Nagbe has been leading the way forward.
Franck Songo'o, Donovan Ricketts, and Eric Alexander are my honorable mentions..
Ryan - Steven Smith
There have been many games when our outside backs have been completely torched by speedy skilled players. Last game was not one of those games as Smith was able to hold his own and for a good portion of the game he did it with very little help from the other players on the wings. Not only was he able to defend his side he also threw around his body to block shots and to stop game tying goals. Smith's position to save that ball of the line is exactly what you want to see from our defenders. This was probably Smith's best defensive performance as a Timber and it was really needed.
Nagbe and Ricketts were honorable mention.
There are our picks for Man of the Match, but what are yours? Be sure to cast your vote and let us know why in the comments.