After a myriad of other duties and responsibilities I was finally able to take in a game and have enough time to write the game flow. I know you were all on pins and needles waiting for my excellent analysis and are happy to read it once again. (I kid)
Opening Whistle- Valeri Volley: You could tell it was a very important game for both teams due to the high energy they displayed from the opening whistle. Vancouver looked to test Portland's usually shaky back line with quick counters and using their speed to get behind the backline. Portland tried to find the space between the front 4 and the back six, usually by passing to Diego Valeri or Darlington Nagbe, and then attacking the open space.
Vancouver was having the greater success as they created quite a few dangerous chances in the first 10 minutes of the game. Portland did not help their cause with a few bad touches or passes in middle third of the field. With Portland out of sync offensively and the defense looking shaky Vancouver looked like they felt they had a chance to nab the opening goal of the game and to set the tone for the rest of the game.
Vancouver had a lot of the momentum through the first 25 minutes of the game and their confidence was growing every minute they continued to look like the better team. Portland needed one person to step up and show some quality and that person was the same person who has done some all year. Diego Valeri. His volley from a perfectly placed cross by Jorge Villafana was exactly a leader and the star of the team needs to do.
Valeri Volley-Half: After Valeri's voluptuous volley the game was taken over by a now confident Timbers team. They were on the ball for long periods of time and the passing became much crisper. Vancouver's attack no longer looked as dangerous due to the improved confidence of every man in Timbers' Green.
The one goal lead allowed Portland to pick their spots going forward but also allowed them to leave numbers back to defend and shut down Vancouver's counter attack, which had looked dangerous in the beginning of the game. This allowed Portland to see the game to halftime with very little pressure from Vancouver.
Restart - 60': With the playoffs looming and the winner placing themselves in the last playoff position it was no surprise that Vancouver came out with energy. They knew they needed to get back into the game and Portland also knew this and looked to take control the ball early to not allow Vancouver time on the ball to establish a rhythm.
Portland started to use Fanendo Adi to hold up the play and lay it off to attacking teammates and this game more than any other this was very effective. While Portland initially was able to blunt any Vancouver attack as the half progressed Vancouver became more and more desperate by throwing numbers forward. Portland now needed to find the second goal or remain under pressure for the remainder of the game.
60'- Adi's Goal: Vancouver's desperate energy started to turn the tide and if Portland was not able to stem the tide it felt like a goal was eminent. Once again Valeri stepped up and turned backed the Vancouver tide. Valeri forced a turnover at the midfield line and the turnover quickly became a 2v1 the other way. Valeri's pass then lead to the second goal of the game when Adi slipped the ball past David Ousted.
Adi's Goal - Adi's Brace: Even though the scoreline was 2-0 Vancouver did not hang their heads unlike the last game these two teams played. They continued to attack and look for the goal that would get them back in the game. However Portland's second goal, like the first, breathed new life into the Portland players and they put Vancouver under pressure with their technical abilities. The third goal came of the quick passing of the Timbers and Adi was once again the recipient of a great ball.
Adi's Brace - Final Whistle: After Adi's second goal the only questioned that remained to be answered is if the Portland Timbers could hold onto the shutout for only the fourth time this year. Vancouver did their best to spoil the effort with their continued efforts to score a goal. Usually Portland would look to get on the ball for an extended period of time but Vancouver was using high pressure to force Portland to play the longball to a now Adi-less Portland attack.
In the end Donovan Ricketts earned the log slice and Portland moved ahead Vancouver in the Western Standings.
- This game played like a 2013 Portland Timbers’ game and it looked like Portland actually played
- Vancouver really came out strong and if Erik Hurtado did not have such a bad game it might have been a bad game
- Alvas Powell still makes some defensive mistakes but he now holds his man up rather than dive in like at the beginning of the year.
- Valeri better get MVP votes because without him the Timbers would have been dead in the water 3 months ago. Which fits the definition of most valuable player.
- For those of you who did not see Chris Rifer’s tweet I had to eat my amazing press food with two knives acting as chopsticks. I was the pre-game entertainment for the box.