The Timbers' first team controlled their brief period of play against the Houston Dynamo yesterday, running out 2-0 winners. From top to bottom the first team had few objectionable moments, so picking players who impressed was easy.
So, who impressed and who fell short of our expectations? Check out our picks below:
Will: "We all know what Chara can do, but after two months away it was good to see him back in the center of the pitch where he regularly broke up any sort of build up the Dynamo might attempt. Plus, he carried the ball forward well and started the attack with some regularity."
Stacey: "Fernandez turned his positives from the first match into more concrete contributions yesterday. He set up both goals with great passes to Urruti and created some other chances that way as well. It's just preseason and the results don't matter, but if Fernandez wanted to score in the next match, a logical next step, that would be just fine."
Stacey: "We've been focusing a lot on the new guys or the ones we didn't see much of last season, but Jewsbury deserves a nod for looking solid in preseason so far. His positioning has been great and he has looked really good when he pushes forward into the attack. Powell may have eyes on Jack's spot with the first team, but the veteran isn't going to make it easy."
Will: "Long was one of the few bright points for the second team against Houston, generally looking composed and competent in his defensive midfield spot. Contributing well on both sides of the ball, what stood out the most about Long was the accuracy of his passing and his ability to find players on the run. Although it remains to be seen how he can fit in to first team play, the Timbers could have a potential gem here."
Will: "Against Houston, Nagbe just did what he does every game: play good passes, make good runs, and be absolutely impossible to take the ball off of. Although a large part of Houston's defensive miscues came from the incorporation of rookie A.J. Cochran into the back-line, they were also pulled out of position regularly in attempts to keep Nagbe covered and able to be double teamed. The fact that he was drawing that much attention allowed others to find space that much more easily, as could be seen in both Timbers goals."
Ryan: "This game showed exactly why the Timbers decided to pass on Ryan Johnson. Maxi ran defenders down and forced quite a few bad passes. He also combined well with La Gata and the other midfielders as a target forward. If Urutti can play like this during the regular season the Timbers offense will be very hard to handle."
Who Needs Improvement
Ryan: "It is probably harsh to judge him based on his performance with the rookies and reserves but he just didn't look like he could put his stamp on the game. It might be that Valeri has spoiled us in the CAM role or that Gason looks that much better playing along side the starters but Nanchoff failed to influence the game as much as he needed to in that role. If Nanchoff wants to earn game day 18 appearances and possibly spot minutes he needs to show he can provide something more."
Will: "He was not given much to work with, but Piquionne just never really looked dangerous against the Dynamo. Even with Jorge Villafana giving him some decent service from the wings, Piq never really threatened to score. He did mix it up on the few Houston free kicks on offer, something the Timbers always need more of, but it is hard to imagine him displacing Urruti currently."
Who were your top performers against Houston? Who do you want to see more from? Let us know in the comments.