The Portland Timbers earned the full three points last saturday and it felt great. The play on the field may not be the best we have seen from the Timbers but the result is what matters the most. The return of Diego Valeri to the starting line-up was a boost and it showed on the field but he wasn't the only one who put in a good shift on the field. Here are the picks from our esteemed panel:
Chris G. - Diego Valeri
Rarely do I pick a goal scorer for Man of the Match - but with the goal scoring drought and the individual finishing touch offered by Diego Valeri - in that far post stunner - it's good enough for me... What was great to see was that the first goal actually came from about 6 Timbers players all working together.
Case - Diego Valeri
He isn't 100 percent, but hes back. His shot, his creativity and his goal sensibility put us ahead for the win and I cried tears of joy watching him bend it in. This is the feel good moment of the year for me.
Will - Nat Borchers
Look, Valeri is fantastic, but let's not forget who it was that got the Timbers on the board first: Ol' Treebeard himself, Nat Borchers. Moreover, the core of the Timbers defense was fantastic on the night, even as the team were caught napping after the second goal. I could just as easily pick Diego Chara, or Jack Jewsbury, or Alvas Powell. (Who had eight tackles! Eight!) Borchers was the only defender with a goal, however, so he gets the nod.
Ryan - Alvas Powell
If Powell keeps the form he has had the last four or so games it won't be long until someone in Europe comes calling and Portland will be swimming in Garber Bux. Powell had 3 recoveries, 3 clearances, 8 interceptions, and 8 tackles. The right side of the defense had a combined 18 tackles on the day. A year ago Powell would have been suspended after accumulating so many yellow cards so quickly but he has really focused in his discipline and it has shown with 3 games in a row without a yellow.
Chris R. - Diego Valeri
Valeri struggled for portions of the first half as the team was having difficulty finding space to operate in midfield. But the Maestro came out in the second half and took over the game. In his 27 minutes of second-half action, Valeri was 10 for 11 passing, created a chance, scored a goal, and whipped in almost-perfect set-piece delivery including a near-Olimpico on the play that resulted in Nat Borchers’s goal. Simply put, Valeri was the driving force behind the push that ultimately won the Timbers the game.