The Portland Timbers held Real Salt Lake in check in a defensive battle and earned an opening night point without a few of their key players. A lot of players had some great individual shifts making the choice of Man of the Match a difficult one.
Here are our picks for the Timbers' Man of the Match against Real Salt Lake. Check them out then give us yours in the comments below.
Chris Gluck - Jack Jewsbury
As much as George Fochive had a great introduction to first team football today the glue that made the team work was provided by Jack Jewsbury - his leadership in the center of the park and his tracking of Morales made a significant contribution on the defending side of the pitch... as noted by many to include myself - you can't lose if the opponent fails to score - in this case the Timbers, while quick in penetration and shot taking were far more patient on the defending side of the pitch - in my view that was down to superb leadership in the midfield by Jack!
Chris Rifer - Jack Jewsbury & George Fochive
Okay, so that's neither one man nor were they really the best players on the field (that was Darlington Nagbe, for my money). But the prospect of the Timbers going into the season opener with their fourth- and fifth-choice defensive midfielders rightly had many concerned. Neither Fochive nor Jewsbury did anything world-beating on Saturday, but one stat tells the story of their quiet effectiveness: Javier Morales and Luis Gil combined for one chance-created against the Timbers. That's one heck of a job from an MLS debutante and a veteran utilityman.
Will Conwell - Jorge Villafana
Villafana was in full lock down mode on the left flank against RSL, dealing deftly with Sebastian Jaime and Tony Beltran. Villafana particularly shined early in the match when Rodnet Wallace seemed somewhat slow to track back and Salt Lake really looked to attack his flank to no avail. The fact that he was beating people on the dribble, an immaculate passer, and served up some tasty crosses at the other end of the pitch helped a bit in making the decision as well.
Kevin McCamish - George Fochive
Kinda want to give it to Nagbe but...Walking onto the pitch to make your MLS debut to replace the player who defines workhorse for this team already sorta puts you in that "blame him if anything goes wrong" 8 ball. So to be able to go out there and perform well is an achievement unto itself. But the gulf of difference in expectations makes me want to vote Fochive. I was scared when no Chara popped up on the 11 or even 18. But Fochive helped contribute to quite the amazing defensive performance tonight. And helped to put to rest some of the fears of having such an injured midfield to start the year.
If I picked one it would be Wallace. Wallace was all over the field. He played a part in most of the attacks, and ran back every time to defend. His work rate and passion were second to none tonight. Powell is a honorable mention, but most if the team played amazing so it's tough.
Graham Corking - George Fochive
Got to agree with Fochive.
Thought he was excellent, especially his tackling and the fact he was thrown in at the deep-end. Wallace and Nagbe were all impressive, but Fochive gave them the platform to break.
Ryan Gates - Nat Borchers and Liam Ridgewell
I know it isn't a man but it should be Men of the Match in this case. It was amazing to watch their communication and their positioning throughout the game. They rarely were caught out of position and the handled a very physical forward in Sabario. The cohesiveness of the backline and overall team defense starts with the two generals in the backline.
For the rankings this week we are only including possible MOTM.