The Portland Timbers struggled to put together the dominating performance that some were expecting against the Philadelphia Union on Sunday, only coming away with a 1-1 draw, snatched from the clutches of defeat in the final minute of stoppage time thanks to an opportunistic finish from Gaston Fernandez.
Few players stood out in this one, which made picking a Man of the Match candidate hard. Here are our picks; make sure to share yours in the poll and comments below.
Will: Michael Harrington
In a game where just about everyone was wildly inconsistent in their passing, touch, and positioning, Harrington was his usual self, always in the right place at the right time. After repeated forays down the Timbers' left flank, Philadelphia found no traction, largely thanks to the solid defensive work of Harrington, and were forced to change their point of attack to the right. Although he was forced to reign in some of his runs forward to deal with Philadelphia's attack, Harrington found space to send in several of the Timbers' best crosses of the night.
Ryan: Michael Harrington
On numerous occasions Harrington was in the right position to intercept a dangerous pass or to break up a counter attack. He also advanced forward more than I have seen him do in a long time and if the Timbers would have recognized this they could have utilized the width he provided. He also had to defend two players when the left midfielder was slow to get back and still did a decent defensive job.
Stacey: Donovan Ricketts
I hate to use the "no one else was very good, better give it to Ricketts" strategy so early in the season, but I'm doing it. While the defense was a little shaky and the midfield and offense looked disjointed and out of sync, Ricketts had a good game and made a couple saves that kept the Union within reach and made a draw possible. When a lot of his teammates seemeed a little off, Ricketts looked pretty much like his usual self.
Michael: Diego Valeri
While it was Gaston Fernandez who netted the dramatic equalizer, Valeri was the more dangerous attacking option for the Timbers on the night. Despite the somewhat frustrating evening offensively, it's clear that Valeri is still the hub through which Portland will ultimately score, especially once he hits full stride.
There are our picks, but what are yours? Vote in the poll below and let us know why in the comments.