After several weeks of near unanimity in our picks for the Portland Timbers Man of the Match (see Donovan Rickett's 85% of the vote in last week's poll), yesterday's match against Sporting Kansas City had several standout performances for the Timbers. With three different players getting on the scoreboard and three different players earning assists, we were all over the place in our picks.
Stacey: Ryan Johnson
After a fairly disappointing performance by Johnson in San Jose, he was so crucial to the Timbers attack against SKC. His goal got his team back in the game after conceding early, and it was off a corner kick no less, a situation where the Timbers have not looked dangerous at all this season. No less important was his assist on the second goal, where Johnson perfectly timed his pass to Nagbe so that Jimmy Nielsen was off his line and had no chance to get back in position. He was just what the Timbers needed on offense tonight.
Ryan: Donovan Ricketts
Portland would not have earned the full three points if it was not for Ricketts. Portland's defense was so porous he was forced to make 6 saves and none was bigger than the 91st minute when he had to make an amazing reaction save to earn the full three points. I am not sure if we should be happy for Ricektts and the amount of SotW honors he is receiving or disappointed that our defense is putting him in a position to earn them.
Geoff: Diego Valeri
Really I wanted to give this to the entire midfield, but that's just not possible. Valeri was very much the difference maker in the game, however. In the first two goals it was his smart play that got Ryan Johnson and Darlington Nagbe their goals. Without him, this game quickly turns into a loss or draw. More so than the assists (direct or indirect), however, you could see Valeri working his magic all night. He figured out how to exploit holes in Sporting KC's midfield and backline pretty much every time he got the ball.
Will: Darlington Nagbe
In addition to his goal, Nagbe was instrumental in the Timbers domination of possession during their fight to get back into the lead and, as the team struggled at times to hold of Kansas City's late surge, Nagbe provided most of the Timbers best moments of quality. He may not be quite the goal scoring dynamo that we all want him to be, but Nagbe's effortless dribbling out of pressure and spot on passing (he complete 34 of his 38 passes on the night) are instrumental to Caleb Porter's preferred style of play. Also, though, how good was that goal?
There are our picks, but what are yours? Vote in the poll below and let us know why in the comments.