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Game Flow: Portland Timbers Win as a Team

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The Portland Timbers did what they needed to do to secure a shutout and the full three points.

Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

Opening Whistle - Valeri Golazo: Chivas USA came out looking to take the game to the Portland Timbers. They were not scared and they were not worried about playing in Providence Park. Portland was not fazed by an opponent ready to play in front of their loud and boisterous fans and they settled in nicely with the new backline starting with a good defensive showing. With the defense playing well, Portland was able to pressure more in the center of the midfield because they did not have to run around putting out potential fires. This pressure forced a lot of turnovers in the middle of the pitch with Chivas wings playing up and out of position. One turnover was immediately played to Diego Valeri, and he attacked the back line of Chivas with three other Timbers in support. His teammates made runs which allowed him to cut back once to beat his defender and then score another bomb from outside the box. It was a masterful goal.

Valeri Golazo- 30': The goal did not feel like it changed the rhythm of the game much. Usually it adds a little pep to the step of either team but this time it felt it was business as usual for both teams. Chivas was content to find Erick Torres or their outside players, Mauro Rosales and Marvin Chavez, for their attack. Usually this spells disaster for the Timbers (as they have over rotated at times in the past or lost marks on the back side of plays), but for the first 25 minutes of the game, the back four for Portland looked in tune with each other and prepared for the attacks.

Not only did the good defensive shape help the central midfield pairing, it also helped Portland apply high pressure again, and this lead to a lot of balls played into pressure and thus turnovers. The turnovers lead to Portland getting chances on the break, but they were unable to connect on the final pass and in some cases were being a little too unselfish.

30'- Wallace Goal: Sometime around the 30th minute, the game got really physical with a lot of hard fouls usually on Nagbe(sorry too used to writing that name in combination with hard fouls) a Timbers player, and things started to get a little chippy. Portland fought through the physical nature of the game and continued to attack with purpose. This lead to another goal in the first half. This time it was Rodney Wallace who put his name on the scoresheet after a great cross to feet of Fanendo Adi. Adi's bad touch lead to a bouncing ball which forced him to lay it off to Wallace, and he slotted the ball past Dan Kennedy.

Wallace Goal - Halftime: Right after the second goal, Chivas was just looking to the play the first half out without conceding a third and most likely the nail in the coffin. Portland also seemed content to play out the half and we went to the break with a 2-0 scoreline.

Restart - 55': Chivas once again started out with some pep to their step as they were looking to play their way back into the game. Portland was under some pressure in the first minutes of the half and they looked a little out of sorts with the uptick in energy and the addition of Leandro Barrera. Barrera added more speed to the wings and was playing better than Chavez. Barrera did nothing but look to beat O'Rourke with speed, and this forced Papa to come over and shadow the two.

55' - Final Whistle: It took Portland a good 10 minutes to get back into the game, but once they did it was with possession. The possession was great with a lot of balls into the middle to suck players to the ball, and then out to find space vacated by those players. The possession helped slow the game down and did not allow Chivas to continually keep pressure on Portland back line. We all know what happens when the back line is under constant pressure.

When Portland was under pressure, they did look to counter with numbers. If the counter was not there, they stopped the counter and played the ball around the back to possess the ball. This tactic lead to some chances, but it was also a very professional way to handle the two goal lead. It is also something that Portland has not had a chance to do at home in quite some time.

No team with a two goal lead is able to play 100% perfect with the other team working as hard as Chivas was for a goal, and there were some breakdowns, but Portland's CB pairing looked like they were communicating well and were on the same page.

Even though it felt like Portland was in control of the game, Chivas really had a majority of the possession in the half, and it showed with the number of shots Chivas were able to create in the second half compared to their paltry one in the first. The shots were also a lot better in quality than the one that sliced 20 yards away from the goal.

Observations:

  • Paparatto and Ridgewell looked good paired together.

  • Adi was covering more ground this game and the team was playing equally to his feet and to his head.

  • The All Star game seemed to rejuvenate the TA. They were loud and ready to go from the get go.

  • The new back four played well together in the first half and this seemed to allow Diego Chara and Will Johnson to be their 2013 versions (mainly Will).

  • Danny O'Rourke stayed at home while Michael Harrington made long runs up the pitch

  • Awesome to see Wallace out there playing like 2013 Wallace and it was great to see him get a goal.

  • It was a beautiful super moon.

  • Ridgewell reads the game really well and it also helps he can move his teammates around into the right positions.

  • I am impressed by Ben Zemanski's decisions lately when he comes in to see the game out. He isn't trying to get a goal but is trying to manage the game (unlike earlier in the year).

  • The whole team wanted a shutout and it showed when Maximiliano Urutti tracked Barerra all the way back to our penalty area.