The Portland Timbers continued their winless start to the season with a 2-1 loss to FC Dallas last night in a game rife with odd occurrences including a double red card and a fluke own goal. The weird way in which the game played out made it difficult to pick out a player as the Man of the Match, but we somehow managed to persevere.
Here are our picks. Make sure to share yours in the comments below.
Kelly: Diego Valeri
While I would normally take any opportunity possible to select Diego Chara as MotM, I'm going to go with Diego Valeri. He was back in his normal spot in the center of midfield, and finally played more like his "normal" self. And it's not so much that Valeri was particularly special on the night, I just shudder to think what the offense would have looked like if wasn't there.
Ryan: Diego Valeri
It looks as if Valeri is finally starting to play like the player we saw we saw last year and, if that continues, the Timbers should be able to turn it around. The only thing the Timbers still need is for Valeri to find his touch around the 18 yard box and to hit those long range shots.
Honorable Mention: Darlington Nagbe.I know he only played 45' but during most of that half he was the most dangerous Timber. When he wasn't being hacked down from behind he was making runs in the channels and he used his dribbling skills to great affect. If he could have played the full 90' I believe Portland would have been a lot more dangerous going forward.
Michael: Kalif Alhassan
Once again Alhassan's introduction coincided with an improvement in attacking play. While Diego Valeri was probably the best player on the night, Alhassan was active and involved to great effect in limited action. If he'd scored, as he nearly did, this choice would be more uniform across our writers.
Kevin: Kalif Alhassan
While I could go with what everyone else is going with (good reason too as I agree Valeri looks like he is rounding back into form); Kalif is my man. I could feel his impact on the game from here. Similar to the first game vs Philly, Kalif came on and influenced the attack. That is what you want in a sub. You want him to come on and have an impact. When Lord knows what is going down on the pitch and the ref is giving out cards like they are Oprah prizes, Kalif provided a needed boost to the team. Granted there were chances that went begging, but Kalif was close to getting my MOTM vs Philly, so I shall give it to him here.
Stacey: Diego Chara
[Insert all the things we usually say about Chara after disappointing matches like this.] Plus, Chara is basically doing all of that for two people while Will Johnson struggles to return to his 2013 form. In addition to all those things we always say about him, he had a couple truly impressive midfield challenges and he won at least one Dallas set piece which, given his height, never fails to impress me. My honorable mentions are Valeri and Alhassan, the best performers on the attacking side of things.
Will: Will Johnson
Look, Johnson gets this one based purely on hustle, something the Timbers had in spades last season. As the game ground on and the Timbers found themselves with tired legs and open spaces around the field, Johnson was the man still running down the ball where ever it was. His shooting needs to be re-calibrated, but the team captain was a constant disruptive force on defense and his passing was impeccable as he ended the night having completed 41 of 45 passes. Was he the best player of the match? No, but he is my pick for the Man of the Match.
There are our picks, but what are yours? Vote in the poll below and let us know why in the comments.