Despite the chippy nature of the Portland Timbers' 1-0 win over visiting Monarcas Morelia, there were plenty of positives to take away from Wednesday's match. The game was a good run out for a number of players who will be competing for minutes down the stretch of this long MLS season.
Here are our picks for who stood out:
Will: Steven Evans
When the Timbers' two midfielders with the most first team minutes, Kalif Alhassan and Ben Zemanski, came out of the match at half-time, it was up to Evans to hold the Timbers midfield together both in keeping up the team's high line of pressure and high rate of possession. Evans was equal to the task. Shouting, pointing, and stepping in to do the dirty work at the center of the pitch himself, Evans kept the team together in the face of a quicker and more experienced foe. Plus, he dribbles through groups of defenders oh so well.
Andy: Jose Adolfo Valencia
Portland didn't have the sharpest attack going, but Valencia wasn't complaining. He was repeatedly able to turn a nothing pass into a real puzzle for the Morelia defense. It culminated in the 42nd minute, when a poorly executed cross from Sal Zizzo went to a double-teamed Trencito, who poked the ball up and tried a bicycle kick shot that drew a handball in the box. We've obviously seen him pull similar tricks out of his hat before, but that doesn't make them any less impressive.
Stacey: Futty Danso
I loved watching Futty casually step up to take that penalty pick, then coming up huge in the other penalty area just a minute later to stop a great scoring opportunity for Morelia. He was back and forth all night, helping the Timbers earn a clean sheet while also proving himself to be a handful to defend on set pieces. He's my MOTM, but my Pleasant Surprise of the Match pick is Steven Evans, who made his presence known in the midfield and found himself playing the part of veteran leader when all the academy kids come on in the second half.
There are our picks, but what are yours? Vote in the poll below and let us know why in the comments.