On Saturday, the Portland Timbers drew 1-1 against an in-form Orlando City team. The Timbers went down a goal shortly after halftime. After a second yellow card on Jose Van Rankin, the Timbers rallied and played arguably their best attacking soccer of the match. Cristhian Paredes drew a penalty and calmly converted it from the spot.
Here’s my breakdown of how the Timbers’ players performed as they retained the ninth position in the Western Conference.
(One thing to note: I added some more detailed statistics from FBref last week to all of the positions, so it will be difficult to compare the player grades this week to those last week)
Aljaž Ivačič (GK) - 3.8
Ivacic had a subpar game mostly because his passing out of the back was still very shaky as he attempted just fourteen passes and only two long passes. When watching the game, I noticed at least once that instead of taking long goal kicks, Ivacic would pass it short to Diego Chara and Chara would either attempt a long pass or attempt to play out of the back. I think this is a sign that the Timbers’ staff might not trust Ivacic with passing out of the back. It could be that because Diego is such a great passer of the ball, they want him with the ball at his feet as quickly as possible. In regards to his actual goalkeeping, the Slovenian had a fine game in goal, saving three of four shots. He couldn’t have done much about the goal that he conceded, except perhaps for being more reactive and closing down the angle a bit more.
José Van Rankin (RB) - 4.4
Timbers fans might not like this but, statistically, Van Rankin was having an average game until he got a red card for an incredibly foolish foul, pulling back on Alexandre Pato to stop a likely unsuccessful counter-attack. The Mexican completed over 67% of his total actions and attempted around 78 actions per 90, both of which are above-average for players in his position. He also completed 83% of his passes and 50% of his four crosses, one of which should have led to a goal via an uncontested header from Cristhian Paredes. Apart from his crossing, Van Rankin did not play a significant role in build-up, ranking below average in progressive passes, progressive distance per pass, and passes to the final third. Defensively, the Mexican attempted a team-high 16 defensive duels per 90 but completed just 43%, which is definitely something he will need to work on if he retains his starting job after his suspension. He did do some good work pressing the opposition, as Van Rankin attempted 28 presses in the match and completed over 37%, which are both well above average for fullbacks. Overall, this was definitely a game of positives and negatives for Van Rankin and he’ll look to get back to being more consistent after his suspension is served.
Zac McGraw (CB) - 6.8
McGraw improved upon his last performance against FC Dallas, putting up better numbers across all five statistical categories. He was dominant in the air as he won all five of his aerial duels and looked good defensively as well. He cleared the ball eight times, won seven of his 11 defensive duels, and ranked above average for presses per 90 and press percentage. McGraw’s passing also improved from last weekend, as he completed over 92% of his passes (84% last week). He completed one more pass into the final third and just under 82% of his forward passes (81% last week). So overall, McGraw had a much better game against Orlando City, and he’ll look to maintain this level of success this week against the Galaxy.
Dario Zuparic (CB) - 6.3
In his first start for the Timbers this season after his successful pubalgia surgery, Zuparic had an all-around good game. He ranked above-average in all five statistical categories. The Croatian completed over 83% of his total actions, which is very impressive for a center back. Granted, Zuparic only attempted sixty-two total actions, so I would like to see him become more involved in the game and take more risks to ensure a clean sheet in the next game. A prime example of this is Zuparic’s lack of pressure on attackers in the match, as he racked up just five pressures which indicates he was probably dropping back a bit too much and not marking his attacker very well. However, when Zuparic attempted to dispossess the player he was marking, he was very successful as he completed 100% of his defensive duels and 60% of his pressures. So hopefully Zuparic can maintain this high defensive success rate while getting more involved against the Galaxy.
Claudio Bravo (LB) - 7.8
Bravo did a good job with his defending and passing and ranked about average in his playmaking and dribbling grades. He attempted twelve defensive duels in the match and won 83% of them. He applied pressure twenty-five times, successfully winning the ball back 40% of the time. The Argentine had a high defensive output in the game, while also maintaining a high success rate, which is certainly a characteristic of a great defender. Occasionally, Bravo can be too aggressive in the game as he has picked up a lot of yellow cards (including one on Sunday), but I think it’s important to have defenders on the team who want to win the ball back. Additionally, Bravo’s game wasn’t limited to his defense, as he completed six of his eight long balls, 63% of his whopping 19 passes into the final third, and nine progressive passes. Unlike his counterpart JVR, Bravo was much more involved in build-up with his passing and switching and stretching of the field. Coupled with his last performance against FC Dallas, I think Portland fans should definitely be hopeful about Bravo this season, as he’s still 25 years old and his best years may be ahead of him.
Diego Chara (CM) - 6.7
D. Chara had another solid game, ranking above average in his passing and total actions grade while remaining around average in his defensive and offensive grades. Again, the Colombian displayed precise but attack-minded passing as he completed 91% of his passes, 71% of his seven long balls, 89% of his passes into the final third, and 85% of his forward passes. In case it wasn’t apparent already, D. Chara is a great passer of the ball, possibly one of the best in the league in his position. All of these statistics rank well above average for players in his position and this has become a week in and week out characteristic of his game, which is very impressive. While D. Chara showcased his passing ability, some observable negatives in his game were his defensive and offensive duels. The Colombian completed just one of his six defensive duels and attempted just two offensive duels in the match. Although his duel activity may sound concerning, D. Chara is such a good playmaker that he’s able to negate these concerns and he’ll look to replicate this performance at home against the LA Galaxy.
Cristhian Paredes (CM) - 7.2
After returning from a minor injury, Paredes played well. The highlight of his game was the penalty he drew and converted to tie the match. Other than his penalty, Paredes’ performance was fairly average across the board. He registered just 63 total actions per 90 and, like Diego Chara, his defensive and offensive duels weren’t impressive. He completed just 37.5% of his seven defensive duels which is well below average and 50% of his six offensive duels, around average for his position. Passing-wise, the Paraguayan completed 87% of his total passes, 71% of his seven passes into the final third, 75% of his forward passes, and just two progressive passes. Paredes ranked above-average in his total passes and passes into the final third, but was below-average in the completion rate of his forward passes and progressive passes, which provides a simple example of the ups and downs of his game. In his next game, I would like to see Paredes try to increase his involvement and display more of that quality that he possesses.
Yimmi Chara (CAM/RW) - 4.2
Y. Chara struggled to establish himself in the game which was evident through his total actions grade (2.3) and touches in attacking third grade (2.5). These grades were certainly below-average for players in his position. Additionally, Yimmi’s pressing and passing were average or slightly below average while his offensive, playmaking, and dribbling grades were all well below average. The Colombian completed just one of three dribbles, three progressive carries, two carries into the final third, and one into the penalty area. For a player of Yimmi’s quality, you would expect these numbers to be much higher. He ranked below a 4/10 on my grading system for each prior statistic mentioned. Yimmi’s playmaking wasn’t much better and he only completed nine forward passes with a completion rate of 55%. Clearly, Yimmi was off his game on the day.
Santiago Moreno (RW) - 6.6
Moreno definitely had a bounce-back game against Orlando City after being taken off not too long after halftime against FC Dallas a week ago. The Colombian ranked above-average in every major category in my grading system except for defense in which he recorded a 4.0. What stood out the most to me was Moreno’s progressive runs and carrying ability. He registered an insane sixteen progressive carries and his progressive carrying distance of 6.44 yards per carry ranked in the top 5% for wingers. Moreno also racked up eight carries into the final third, which put him among the highest in that statistical category as well. While Moreno piled up all of these progressive runs and attempted 12 dribbles, his final quality was lacking as he completed just 18% of his dribbles. Additionally, Moreno’s passing was also very impressive as he completed 88% of his total passes, 67% of his passes into the penalty area, and all of his passes to the final third, again, all above-average for players in his position. If Moreno can maintain these dribbling statistics and work on the final quality of his passing and dribbling, he is going to be very dangerous and hard to stop for the Timbers this season.
Jaroslaw Niezgoda (ST) - 4.3
I don’t want to keep repeating myself but it seems like every game Niezgoda just doesn’t involve himself much in build-up or in the attacking third. The Pole actually had a pretty decent game when he got on the ball. He ranked above-average in dribbles, passing, and aerial duels. But again, in typical Niezgoda fashion, he ranked low in total actions, pressing, and shooting. I’m wondering when Blanco returns to the starting lineup if the Timbers will move Asprilla to the No. 9 to make space for Y. Chara out on the wing. Personally, I think this would be the most dangerous lineup for the Timbers. Asprilla’s size and speed would be a good thing to have in front of the playmaking and dribbling ability of Moreno, Blanco, and Y. Chara.
Dairon Asprilla (LW) - 5.5
Asprilla had an average game against Orlando, registering high grades in total actions and passing. He came in at slightly above-average in his dribbling and defensive grades and low in his playmaking and offensive grades. Possession-wise, Asprilla’s passing was good- he completed 89% of total passes, 91% of short passes, and 78% of medium passes. But when it came down to creating chances with his passing, Asprilla struggled. He did not attempt a single pass into the final third or penalty area and completed just one progressive pass in the match. Asprilla’s performance was a mixture of positives and negatives and he’ll look to improve on things, such as his playmaking, in the Timbers' next game.
Sebastian Blanco (CAM) - 7.3
Apart from his pressing (he did not attempt a single defensive duel and just four pressures, a rate of 10 pressures per 90 minutes), Blanco had another good game. He ranked high in my dribbling/skill, playmaking, and overall offensive grades. His total passing wasn’t that great as he completed just 70% of his passes, but he wasn’t really brought on to pass the ball around and maintain possession. Instead, Blanco was brought on to create opportunities and he certainly did that as he completed 75% of his 4 passes into the final third (a rate 10 per 90), 40% of his 13 passes per 90 into the penalty area, and over 10 progressive passes per 90. Additionally, Blanco’s dribbling was very good as he racked up 13 progressive carries per 90, an impressive progressive distance per carry, and five carries into the final third. To cap off this performance, Blanco registered 4 shot-creating actions (10 per 90), which is really impressive and displays his playmaking and dribbling ability. Overall, this was a very good performance from Blanco coming off the bench. Hopefully, he will start this week at home against the Galaxy.
Blake Bodily () - N/A
Eryk Williamson () - N/A
Pablo Bonilla () - N/A
These players aren’t graded because I currently do not have a grading system that will fairly evaluate players, who played under 30 minutes compared to the rest of the team, who played most of the game. This is something that I want to improve upon in the future.