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Through the Looking Glass: Is it the same as it ever was?

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Like most I walked away from yesterday's game pretty frustrated - all that hard work the team put in to go back up one goal only to see three points reduced to one in the final minute... gut wrenching!

Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

While I could belabor the loss of two points I won't - I prefer to think Ma-Pa-Apple Pie and Portlandia - at least for now.

Here's why: I like to look at the game from the sixty thousand foot level when the season starts. This isn't to say that I won't dig a bit deeper (I could), but the season is just taking shape and there are still 32 games to go for the Portland Timbers.

Thirty-two games is a long time really.

So, how do the Timbers compare to everyone else that played in week 2?

Not everyone played this week, but of those that did the two best teams (possession with purpose wise) were the new kids on the block.  Just like last week, it shouldn't be any major surprise to see New York City FC up near the top.

As crazy as it sounds, I picked NYCFC to win the Eastern Conference and the Supporters Shield this year. Jason Kries is that good. So, with them on four points through two game and leading the East, I am not shocked.

As for Orlando - a sign of good teams is their ability to win games on the road - the road team only won 77 times last year, while the home team won over 150 games. For Orlando, it might not have been pretty but it was functional and function sometimes helps form.

With respect to Toronto and their bags of money: Greg Berhalter clearly showed that Columbus will be tough to beat at home and that 2-nil victory against Jozy Altidore and friends was just as convincing on paper as it was on the pitch.

The only team out west that showed their pedigree this week was FC Dallas: they completely dominated Sporting KC with their (possession-less) style.

What was surprising, and perhaps a soothing balm to our many here in Portland, was the inability of that team up north to take a single point, let alone three, at home against the 10-man San Jose Earthquakes. (Wow....  now that loss must have been humiliating!)

In turning the eyes to the Timbers this weekend I am sure everyone was gutted after that late equalizer: a complete balls-up, then balls-down, then in the goal.

For now, at least, I like to think things will be better than last year - and here's why:

The Timbers, to start the season, are no better or worse in their overall team performance than they were at this same time last year - two games played and two points earned - but it's different and here's why:

In attacking through Week 2 last year (2014 - red bar) there was a clear difference in the overall tactical approach - a higher number in possession with less (general) overall output resulting from that possession.

Note the dark green bars and the light green bars - without narrating everything here what this really shows is that - with Diego Valeri and Will Johnson/Ben Zemanski (last nine 2014) the Timbers ability to create open space and finish was far better than this year - at least for now - but the overall trend starting late last year has continued into this new year.

But this is only one half of the game - the other half is defending:

Again, the comparison from last year to this year and the last nine from last year - it's pretty obvious that the general team performance in those key statistics had changed - and if not for the last minute equalizer those two green shaded bars would be almost exactly the same. (Bollocks to Gordon!)

So, while there were plenty of internal game events - the big picture shows the Timbers are continuing to try and work the same tactical magic that got them more points, on average, in the last part of last year than the first part of last year...

Still thirty-two games to go...

If you wish to read my specific match analysis read here:  Diego Chara Returns...

Best, Chris