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Game Flow: The Portland Timbers Make an Impact

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The Portland Timbers won on the road for the third time in their last four road games. It took another come from behind win to do so.

What are you doing down there?
What are you doing down there?
Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Opening Whistle-Impact Goal: From the opening whistle the Portland Timbers looked like the home team and the Montreal Impact looked like the visiting team. Portland had their foot on the gas and in the all out attack mode looking for the first goal of the game. They knew Montreal had tired legs and if they nabbed the first goal it would force Montreal to come out of their defensive shell. The first 12 minutes of the match the ball was in Montreal's end and Portland was able to knock the ball around with ease.

It only took one ball into Portland's defensive box to unravel what was a promising start. Montreal scored on their first shot of the game and their first foray into their attacking box.

Impact Goal-Second Portland Goal: Portland is so used to playing from behind that they just shrugged off the slow start and kept at it. It also helped that it looked like Darlington Nagbe had come to play. His deft touches, silky smooth dribbling and work off the ball gave Montreal's defenders headaches. Montreal had to resort to fouling Nagbe every chance they got. It didn't slow down Portland's attack as they registered three shots on target over the next 20 minutes and had another two blocked.

Instead of looking like Portland was pressing for the goal they looked calm and collected. This difference in attitude gave one a feel like they were going to get the goal back sooner rather than later. The goal did end up coming sooner than their other equalizing goals, which are usually scored late in the games and after the Timbers had expended a lot of their energy. By scoring the equalizer in the first half Portland was able to keep up the attack and they soon netted the second goal and go ahead goal six minutes later from the penalty spot.

Second Portland Goal-Halftime: The euphoria of the go ahead goal and the fact that the Timbers netted in the first half was chopped down after another defensive letdown. On Montreal's third shot of the game they scored their second goal of the game.

Halftime-Fulltime: The first half was full of attacking promise and some fireworks but the second half was all about work rate and grinding the game out. Both teams made adjustments and the shots on target for both teams dried up. Instead of finding the gaps in the defense Portland was running into walls of legs as the fouling continued and spread to Gaston Fernandez and Diego Valeri. Between Nagbe and the previous two they were all fouled a total of five fouls won in the second half and 15 total over the course of the game. A vast majority of these were in the middle third and were committed because Montreal wanted to break up Portland's attack.

Portland was not able to punish Montreal for their fouling on the subsequent set pieces and thus they continued the practice. While Portland's game languished a little offensively the defense shored up the holes in the dam and limited to six total shots, all of them off target and only one of them was in the box (Futty Danso's bicycle kick).

When the clock approached the 80th minute Caleb Porter decided to go all in and go for the three points. His addition of Rodney Wallace helped nab the crucial three points when he played a dangerous ball into the box and Futty could not completely clear it away from danger. Valeri's strike was another shot from outside the box that helped earn Portland the victory.

Observations:

  • Two games in a row with come from behind wins after 39 (I believe) failed attempts
  • Portland's last five road games have been: Win, Win, Draw, Loss, Win
  • Nagbe needs to become superstitious and repeat to the best of his ability everything he did before the Montreal game. Portland needs that Nagbe to show up every game.
  • Other results are going Portland's way with Eastern teams taking points off of Western teams.
  • I think Danny O'Rourke has played well but I want to see Norberto Papparatto paired with Liam Ridgewell.
  • After a shaky first half defense looked really good in the second. Of course they were playing against Montreal.
  • This is the sort of win Portland needs to keep the pressure on those teams above them, some teams don't do well when the pressure is to win maximum points.
  • I am playing Footie Golf on Saturday and if anyone is interested I have room for 2 more. Please send me an email if you are.