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Player Grades: Portland Timbers 3-2 Vancouver Whitecaps

Niezgoda and Ivacic lead the way in this week’s player grades.

MLS: Portland Timbers at Vancouver Whitecaps FC Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

On Saturday, the Portland Timbers won 3-2 against the Vancouver Whitecaps. The Timbers took the lead just before halftime, on a penalty from Dairon Asprilla, and doubled their lead with a quality goal from striker Jaroslaw Niezgoda. The Whitecaps definitely had chances in the game, but the Timbers did enough to hang onto their lead, propelled by Ivacic who made three or four excellent saves.

Here’s my breakdown of how the Timbers’ players performed as they moved up into the seventh position in the Western Conference.

Player Grades:

Aljaž Ivačič (GK) - 7.4

Ivacic had a very good game, in contrast to his form over the last couple of weeks. While his passing out of the back was still poor (he completed 70% of his passes and 30% of long balls), Ivacic had a very good game in goal as he saved a penalty and prevented over one goal in the match, according to WyScout and American Soccer Analysis. This culminated in the Slovenian ranking in the 89th percentile in our shot-stopping grade and leads to his good overall grade. He’ll look to replicate this game and continue this shot-stopping form this week against the Dynamo.

Jose Van Rankin (RB) - 3.5

Portland’s struggles at right back continued this week as Van Rankin had a poor performance against the Whitecaps. He was barely involved in this game, ranking in the seventh percentile for total actions per 90, and while he completed a good amount of his total actions (88th percentile), a deeper dive into his defensive numbers shows that Van Rankin wasn’t very efficient with his opportunities. He completed just one of his three defensive duels and ranked below the 30th percentile for presses, press percentage, clearances, and recoveries. At least the Mexican did not pick up a red card (even though he received an unnecessary yellow card) and the Timbers were able to finish the game with their full eleven members. Hopefully, the Timbers’ next game against the Dynamo can provide an opportunity for Van Rankin to prove why he should be in the starting eleven moving forward.

Bill Tuiloma (CB) - 6.0

Tuiloma had a solid game this week as he ranked above-average in his defensive and aerial grades but well below-average in his carrying grade (which has been a defining characteristic of Portland center backs all season). Tuiloma recovered the ball a lot more in this match than he typically does as he ranked in the 73rd percentile while also applying more pressure on opposing attackers (53rd percentile). While these traits aren’t standout characteristics among center backs, they are much higher than what Portland center backs have been producing all year. While Tuiloma attempted more defensive actions, he did an alright job of maintaining his win percentage as the New Zealander was successful in 88% of his defensive duels (80th percentile) and 31% of his pressures (37th percentile).

Larrys Mabiala (CB) - 5.6

In his MLS season debut, Mabiala had a pretty solid game as he ranked at a pretty similar level to Tuiloma. Mabiala was better in the air, while Tuiloma maintained slightly better statistics in the defensive, carrying, and total actions categories of our system. As previously stated, Mabiala dominated in the air, succeeding in five of his six aerial attempts. Additionally, he recorded similar statistics to Tuiloma on the defensive side of things, as he recovered the ball 11 times in the match (55th percentile), succeeded in seven of his eight defensive duels, and ranked in the 97th percentile for clearances. Mabalia wasn’t great at applying pressure (53rd percentile for pressures per 90 and 20th percentile for press percentage) but he was more active than the other Portland center backs have been in just his first start, and I think we’ll likely see this pairing next week against the Dynamo.

Claudio Bravo (LB) - 5.4

Bravo had a bit of a down game this week compared to his last two performances as his main contribution to the match was fouling two players which led to penalties (although they were soft in my opinion). Outside of those two actions, Bravo ranked slightly above average for nearly every category except for his playmaking. The Argentine piled up a lot of defensive actions like he usually does (98th percentile for recoveries, 79th percentile for defensive duels, 71st percentile for pressures), but he was sometimes caught out of position, which can be seen through the limited effectiveness of his many pressures, as Bravo ranked in only the 15th percentile for successful pressures. Additionally, while the Argentine tried to go forward and create opportunities, he wasn’t very effective. He lost the ball 14 times per 90 (32nd percentile) and he presented pretty much no dribbling threat while attempting just one pass into the penalty area. He did display some good passing in the build-up, as he ranked in the 73rd percentile for progressive passes and in the 99th percentile for forward passes per 90. But I would like to see more of what he did last week, which was completing that final ball into dangerous areas and being a bit more efficient with his passing.

Diego Chara (CM) - 6.6

As per usual, D. Chara had another solid game across the board as he ranked above-average for every major statistical category. His passing was very good. The Colombian completed 93% of his total passes (87th percentile among CM’s) and four of his five long balls; however, most of these passes did not have a large impact on the game as Chara ranked below the 25th percentile for passes into the final third, forward passes, and progressive passes (he did not register one in the game). Chara’s defending was also pretty good in this match. He completed 37% of his 19 pressures, which ranked him around the 70th percentile along with completing both of his defensive duels. Interestingly enough, Chara recorded a very low amount of recoveries (13th percentile), so there are definitely some areas of his game that he can work to improve in his next game.

Cristhian Paredes (CM) - 6.1

Paredes had a solid game as he ranked above average in every major category apart from his offensive rating. The Paraguayan didn’t really do anything notable in the game but he also didn’t really make any large mistakes. Overall, Paredes ranked in the 23rd percentile for total actions per 90, indicating that he didn’t receive or face the ball that much, but he made the most of his actions as he ranked in the 93rd percentile for total action percentage, winning a whopping 82% of his actions. Additionally, the Paraguayan completed 94% of his passes (89th percentile) along with 84% of his forward passes (72nd percentile). The quality of his passes weren’t eye-opening, but some of them were dangerous as Paredes recorded four progressive passes, completed three of his five passes to the final third, and ranked in the 54th percentile for progressive distance per pass. Therefore, although Paredes didn’t have a game that will intimidate future opposition, he still performed well and played a role in Portland’s win.

Yimmi Chara (CAM) - 6.6

Y. Chara had a solid game as he reverted back to his typical position this MLS season (at least until Blanco came on), which has been playing in the No. 10 role behind Niezgoda. While the Colombian scored the goal that iced the game for the Timbers, he didn’t have the best game overall as he ranked below average in his offensive, playmaking, and dribbling grades. Apart from his one goal-scoring chance (which the Whitecaps kind of fluffed), Yimmi struggled to get anything going offensively for himself or his teammates, as he did not register a single shot-creating action or shot assist in the match. He also did not attempt a single pass or even a carry to the penalty area and completed just one carry to the final third. This absence of a real attacking presence from Yimmi could be from a lack of service as he registered just 21 touches in the attacking third of the pitch, which ranked him in the 18th percentile. Whatever the case is, Yimmi will look to get more involved in the attack and build-up for the Timbers this week against the Dynamo.

Dairon Asprilla (RW) - 5.1

Asprilla had a similar game to Y. Chara as he ranked well below-average in his offensive, playmaking, and dribbling grades; however, he did execute a quality penalty to take the lead of the game and displayed some efficient passing. The Colombian ranked in the 93rd percentile for passing percentage and completed all of his five forward passes. While he was efficient with his passing, Asprilla wasn’t very efficient offensively, completing just one of his five offensive duels, which ranked him in the 15th percentile among wingers. Additionally, the Colombian recorded just one touch in the penalty area, zero progressive runs, one foul suffered, and failed to complete his lone pass to the penalty area. This could also be due to Asprilla’s lack of service. I noticed that the Timbers build-up came mostly from their left side in the match, which may have left the Colombian somewhat isolated. Like Yimmi, Asprilla will look to build on his goal and try to become more involved in the match against the Dynamo this week.

Jaroslaw Niezgoda (ST) - 6.6

Niezgoda finally got on the score sheet which was a much needed goal for the Timbers and for himself. The Pole had become increasingly isolated over the last few matches and received very few goal-scoring opportunities from his teammates, but this time Niezgoda took actions into his own hands as he set up a nice fake shot to give himself space to dribble by his defender and smash it in at the near post. While it was great to see Niezgoda score, he also displayed above-average grades in passing, aerials, and ranked slightly below average in total actions. While his total actions would indicate that Niezgoda wasn’t very involved in the game (he ranked in only the third percentile), the Pole was much more involved in the build-up of the attack as he attempted nearly double the amount of passes from last week, while also losing the ball fewer times. Statistically, this has been the best all-around game that I’ve seen from Niezgoda since I started using this grading system and he should be looked at as one of the bright spots from this game along with the goalkeeper Aljaz Ivacic.

Marvin Loria (LW) - 5.4

Like most of the Timbers attack, Loria didn’t do too much outside of drawing the penalty that led to the goal scored by Asprilla. He displayed good dribbling in the match, as the Costa Rican ranked above the 75th percentile for carries per 90, progressive distance per carry, and progressive carries. Apart from these few grades though, Loria ranked below average across the board, which could also be due to the lack of service from midfield and fullbacks. The Costa Rican also came off for Sebastian Blanco after halftime so it could possibly be that he struggled to build chemistry with his teammates as this was just his first start of the season. However, I think Loria showed enough with his dribbling presence to potentially start next week against the Dynamo, or at least come off the bench and attempt to make an impact as a substitute.


Sebastian Blanco - 5.7

Like most of the Timbers’ attack, Blanco didn’t make that much of an impact apart from his slick pass to Niezgoda. But even then, Niezgoda still had to dribble around a defender to generate his own shot, so it wasn’t a clear-cut opportunity created by Blanco. Additionally, the Argentine ranked below-average in every major statistical category except for his playmaking grade. Blanco’s task was to come on and generate chances for the Timbers and he succeeded in that; however, if he is going to start in the future, I think he will need to do a bit more than just setup opportunities for his teammates. For example, Blanco is consistently below-average in his pressing grade. Against the Whitecaps, he ranked in the bottom 25th percentile for his recoveries and pressures in the match. Furthermore, apart from his assist, Blanco’s playmaking in this match wasn’t that special as he failed to record a direct shot assist and did not register a single shot-creating action. I think Blanco’s “statistical” struggles in this game were also due to the fact that Portland didn’t, or didn’t try to create, a lot of chances and instead focused on preserving their lead. So hopefully these creative attacking players will get more opportunities to show what they can do this week against the Dynamo.

Santiago Moreno () - N/A

Dario Zuparic () - 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.


What would you like to see more of in next weeks edition of Player Grades?

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