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Player Grades: Portland Timbers 0-0 Houston Dynamo

Ivacic stood out in the Timbers’ goalless draw.

MLS: Portland Timbers at Houston Dynamo FC Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

On Saturday, the Portland Timbers drew 0-0 against the Houston Dynamo. While nobody from either side was able to get on the scoresheet, there were plenty of opportunities for both sides; however, neither side had the ability to finish their chances (granted, there were great performances from goalkeepers on both sides).

Here’s my breakdown of how the Timbers’ players performed as they slid into the ninth position in the Western Conference.

Player Grades:

Aljaž Ivačič (GK) - 10.0

Ivacic built off his impressive game last week by providing a shot-stopping clinic against the Dynamo and even producing some decent passing out of the back for possibly the first time this season. Out of the three expected conceded goal formats that I use, the lowest had Ivacic concing 1.3 goals and the highest had the Slovenian conceding 2.2 goals. This means that all three adjustments expected Ivacic to concede at least one goal and one expected Ivacic to concede two goals. Therefore, he displayed a very good performance by keeping a clean sheet. Ivacic also completed all of his 12 passes out of the back and his three long passes. Thus, Ivacic looked really impressive in this game (MOTM worthy) and he’ll look to continue building on his performances from the last two weeks.

This is a chart of Ivacic’s upward trajectory for prevented goals over the last five games.

Note: I don’t think this system registers clearances as passes because I noticed while watching the game that Ivacic didn’t complete every kick of the ball, but this system probably just chalked it up as a clearance.

Jose Van Rankin (RB) - 5.5

Out of the Timbers back line this game, Van Rankin had the worst performance as he ranked below average in the passing, playmaking, defensive, and dribbling categories of my assessment. Defensively, Van Rankin did alright with his opportunities, although Fafa Picualt blew by him a few times in the match. Statistically, JVR ranked in the bottom 25th percentile for presses and defensive duels, but he was about average in his success rate and ranked in the 70th percentile for recoveries. The Mexican displayed some solid passing as he completed 87% of his total passes (85th percentile), three of his four long balls, and one of his three crosses in the match. However, Van Rankin failed to involve himself in the build-up as he ranked in the 30th percentile for forward passes and the 15th percentile for his passes to the final third.

Bill Tuiloma (CB) - 5.8

Tuiloma had another solid performance across the board as he ranked around average to above-average for each major category apart from his carrying grade. Like most games, Tuiloma didn’t go in for many duels or pressures, but when he did, he was pretty successful as he landed in the 90th percentile for press percentage but just the 36th percentile for defensive duel percentage. Additionally, Tuiloma did a good job of intercepting and clearing the ball, ranking above the 80th percentile for each. The Kiwi’s passing as a whole was pretty good, as he completed 92% of his passes; however, Tuiloma ranked very low in his role in the build-up of attacks, coming in just the 18th percentile for forward passes, 16th percentile for passes into the final third, and ninth percentile for long passes. The same could be said about Tuiloma’s carrying ability and threat on the ball, as he didn’t really attempt to generate many opportunities going forward there either.

Larrys Mabiala (CB) - 6.9

Mabiala ranked similarly to Tuiloma in his defensive grade and even below the Kiwi in his aerial grade, however he performed better in his passing, carrying, and total actions grades. Defensively, Mabiala and Tuiloma had very similar statistics. Both of them were highly ranked in their pressing percentage and recoveries grade, but they did not attempt many defensive duels or pressures in this match (which is typical for most of the Portland backline). Mabiala was slightly better than Tuiloma in pretty much every statistical category for passing as he completed 95% of his passes (92nd percentile), but like the aforementioned Tuiloma, Mabiala did not move things forward often. He scored in the ninth percentile for long balls attempted, fourth percentile for passes into the final third, and 18th percentile for forward passes attempted. However, when Mabiala did make passes to begin the forward build-up, he was very precise as he fell in the 95th percentile for forward pass percentage, 93rd percentile for passes into the final third percentage, and 75th percentile for long ball percentage.

Claudio Bravo (LB) - 8.2

After having a bit of a down game by his standards last week, Bravo reverted back to his past couple of performances with another good game, displaying above-average passing and defending. Like usual, Bravo ranked very high in presses (94th percentile) and press percentage (72nd percentile). He also won 90% of his defensive duels in the game, displaying his rock solid one-on-one defensive ability. Passing-wise, Bravo performed well in the build-up of an attack, however the final quality was lacking in this game. For example, the Argentine ranked in the 99th percentile for forward passes and the 77th percentile for forward pass completion percentage, however he only completed one of his four passes into the penalty area and failed to register a single shot assist. Part of this lack of a final ball could be that Bravo is passing to one of the attackers and not creating many of his own opportunities in the final third or penalty area, but if he could add some quality to his final pass or cross, there is no doubt in my mind that he will become one of the most dangerous players for Portland this season.

This is a chart of Bravo’s press and press completion percentage grades. Apart from his game against the Whitecaps, Bravo has been performing very well in this category.

Diego Chara (CM) - 5.9

Apart from his offensive performance, D. Chara had a solid game across the board. The eldest Chara brother did a solid job pressing the opponents in the match and recovering the ball; however, he wasn’t the most efficient with his opportunities. Chara ranked in the 89th percentile for recoveries, 69th percentile for defensive duels, and 63rd percentile for presses, yet he ranked in the 36th percentile for press percentage and just the tenth percentile for defensive duel percentage, indicating that a lot of his pressures and duels did not result in a change of possession in favor of the Timbers. As a whole, Chara’s passing was solid as he completed 93% of his passes (86th percentile) and 100% of his forward passes, but similar to the center backs for Portland, Chara did not generate many chances going forward as he ranked in the 30th percentile for forward passes, 46th percentile for passes to the final third, and the 26th percentile for long passes. Additionally, the Colombian failed to complete his lone offensive duel in the match, which just goes to show how little he was involved in the attack this game. While creating a plethora of chances for the Portland attack isn’t the major focus of Chara’s position, he’s supposed to help progress the ball forward and I don’t think he did that great of a job with that in this game (especially considering the body of work he’s put together of his career).

Cristhian Paredes (CM) - 6.3

Paredes had a solid all-around performance against the Dynamo, with his lowest grade being his passing at only the 45th percentile (basically average). Defensively, Paredes did a good job of recovering the ball (80th percentile) and ranked fairly high in his pressing and defensive duel output and efficiency (above the 60th percentile for each). Like Chara and the Timbers backline, Paredes rarely attempted forward passes or passes into the final third in the match (below the 20th percentile for both). Seeing all of these low forward/final third passing grades in this match for the Timbers tells me that these players were likely told by their coaching staff that a draw in this game was acceptable and to not push so far forward that they could leave themselves vulnerable on the counter-attack, especially after the first 15 minutes where JVR got beaten in behind by Fafa Picault. Therefore, I don’t believe these players should take all the responsibility for failing to generate or build-up attacks but I’m also not sure how to adjust for a situation like this. Nevertheless, Paredes did a solid job with his limited opportunities (30th percentile for total actions) and helped Portland carve a point out on the road.

Sebastian Blanco (CAM) - 6.5

Blanco had a solid game overall; however, he ranked firmly above-average in his dribbling grade and firmly below-average in his pressing grade. When he was on the ball, the Argentine tried to make things happen (especially with his dribbling) as he scored above the 85th percentile for his progressive distance per carry, progressive carries, and carries into the final third grades. However, like most of the attack from the Timbers, Blanco could not generate that final shot or pass as he didn’t record a single shot assist in the match, completed just 44% of his passes into the penalty area (39th percentile), and generated three shot-creating actions and two shots (which are about average for his position). With Blanco’s level of dribbling and chance creation, you would expect higher numbers in those areas, but he wasn’t able to produce against the Dynamo. He’ll look to continue to get into those good positions and make things happen with his dribbling and passing against Salt Lake (who just got thrashed 6-0 against NYCFC) next week, and hopefully some of those opportunities will turn into goals.

Yimmi Chara (RW) - 6.3

Y. Chara had a solid all-around performance against the Dynamo, ranking above-average in every major statistical category in his position. While his dribbling in this match wasn’t as great as Blanco’s, Yimmi still got himself into good positions and created chances through his passing and playmaking. However, Portland was unable to capitalize on the chances that he created. A prime example of this is Yimmi’s six shot assists in the match (99th percentile among wingers) as Yimmi was able to put himself in a good position several times throughout the match to set up opportunities for his teammates but for whatever reason, they were unable to capitalize. It wasn’t just Yimmi’s shot assists that setup opportunities for his teammates, as the Colombian ranked above the 75th percentile for his progressive and forward pass completion percentage and above the 60th percentile in his passes into the final third and penalty area completion percentages. Additionally, Yimmi’s defensive output in this match was impressive as he recovered the ball eight times (94th percentile) and won 80% of his defensive duels (82nd percentile).

Jaroslaw Niezgoda (ST) - 3.2

After his uplifting performance in which he scored a nice goal with some dribbling mixed in, Niezgoda reverted back to his typical form this season against the Dynamo (slightly worse actually). While his head-to-head collision with Teenage Hadebe was certainly not helpful in his performance against the Dynamo, the Pole recorded just 18 total actions in the match (just above the 0th percentile) and completed 44%, which is about average for strikers. However, when a player has less than 20 total actions in a match, there isn’t really much to analyze because that player had such a little impact on the game. For reference, in his last match against the Whitecaps, Niezgoda recorded 40 total actions in the match, over double the amount that he recorded in this game! With that said, the next opponent for the Timbers, Real Salt Lake, just conceded six goals against NYCFC, so Niezgoda will be looking for another breakout performance in that game.

Here is a graph of Niezgoda’s total actions over his last five games. As you can see, his total actions have remained relatively stable and even on a downward decline over the last two games as Niezgoda has struggled to consistently involve himself in the attack this season.

Santiago Moreno (LW) - 6.2

While Yimmi and Blanco were consistently above-average for each major category in their respective positions, Santiago Moreno was all over the place for his major statistical grades. Moreno was considerably below average in his passing and playmaking grades but remained decently above average for his offensive and dribbling grades. The Colombian was able to create chances with his dribbling and his off the ball progressive movement, but they were ultimately squandered because of his weak passing and control of the ball. Moreno received eight progressive passes (92nd percentile) and attempted eight dribbles (99th percentile) in his time on the field, completing six of them (77th percentile). While this is good work from Moreno, he also recorded 14 losses in the match (20th percentile) and three miscarries (15th percentile), displaying his lack of a good touch in crucial moments. Additionally, Moreno completed just 69% of his passes (32nd percentile), 50% of his forward passes (27th percentile), and could not complete any of his two crosses and passes to the final third. Therefore, while there were certainly some bright spots of Moreno’s game against the Dynamo, he does have some things to work on before the next game against RSL, namely his passing and control.

Substitutes:

David Ayala (CM) - 6.0

Ayala had a pretty solid game overall as he ranked above average in every major category except for his defending, in which he landed in the bottom 37th percentile. The 19 year old Argentine brought more urgency to the midfield and backline which can be seen through his progressive distance per carry, progressive carries, and carries to the final third grades, which were all above the 75th percentile. He may have brought a bit too much urgency though, as he completed just 50% of his forward passes (10th percentile), while failing to complete any of his three offensive duels and landing in the bottom 36th percentile for losses. So while Ayala may have been a bit over aggressive, I believe he was still a good substitution into a match that was lacking some energy for parts of the game and I would like to see him more in the first team, even around 30 minutes a match, because I think that combination of energy and skill will pay dividends against tired defenders if Portland needs to grab a goal or create opportunities.

Dairon Asprilla (ST) - 4.4

While Asprilla received more touches in his time on the field than Niezgoda did for the first 60 minutes of the match, he didn’t really affect the game that much. He failed to complete both of his dribbles and won just one of his four duels in the match. The Colombian tried to create opportunities as he ranked above the 80th percentile for forward passes, forward pass percentage, progressive distance per carry, carries to the final third, and progressive passes. But like Moreno, Asprilla’s final product was lacking as he failed to register any shots, shot assists, or shot-creating actions and ranked in the bottom 10th percentile for miscarries. If Gio Saverese wanted to shake things up in the striker position for a couple of games, I think it would be interesting to try Asprilla up top with Blanco, Yimmi, and Moreno behind him. For me, because of Asprilla’s pace and strength, I think he would present a more dangerous threat to other teams, especially considering the limited touches that Niezgoda is getting when he is on the field.

Marvin Loria () - N/A

Eryk Williamson () - 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.