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Player Grades: Portland Timbers 1-3 LA Galaxy

Bravo and the Chara brothers stand out on a day when many Timbers did not.

MLS: LA Galaxy at Portland Timbers Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

On Saturday, the Portland Timbers lost 3-1 against the LA Galaxy. The Timbers went two goals down in the first half and just before halftime, Pablo Bonilla was sent off for “violent conduct,” leaving the Timbers with down a man. They managed to rally a bit after a free-kick goal from Bill Tuiloma shortly after halftime but they could not produce the final ball to score an equalizing goal.

Here’s my breakdown of how the Timbers’ players performed as they moved down to the 12th position in the Western Conference.

Player Grades

Aljaž Ivačič (GK) - 3.6

Ivacic had another poor game as he attempted just 10 passes and zero long balls. The fact that Ivacic did not attempt a single long ball is kind of shocking and I believe that is likely due to a decision made by the coaching staff. Additionally, the Slovenian performed about how he was expected to in goal, as his xCG from FBref and WyScout were at or slightly below the number of goals Portland actually conceded. On the bright side, Ivacic did come out of his box a bit more as he made one exit in the match and stopped 25% of crosses; however, with the way he is performing, I wouldn’t expect him to retain the starting job for much longer.

Pablo Bonilla (RB) - 4.1

This week, Portland fans were excited to see the emergence of a relatively new face at right back in the form of Pablo Bonilla. However, 48 minutes into the match, Bonilla was set off and specifically targeted by the LA Galaxy for at least one of their goals. This disappointing defensive performance from Bonilla can be viewed through his pressing percentage and recoveries per 90 as the Venezuelan ranked in the bottom ninth and 23rd percentile for each of those statistics. This indicates that even though Bonilla had a large number of defensive duels and presses, he wasn’t recovering the ball back at a high rate, if at all. The rest of Bonilla’s grades were about average, as he didn’t really do anything noteworthy in his somewhat short time on the field.

Bill Tuiloma (CB) - 6.6

Apart from his fantastic free-kick, Tuiloma had average grades across the board, apart from his low aerial grade, which is ironic considering the man who he replaced, Zac McGraw, is pretty dominant in the air. Like his typical performances, Tuiloma ranked low in defensive actions as he was in the bottom 25th percentile for interceptions, recoveries, defensive duels, and presses. These statistics clearly indicate that Tuiloma is either dropping too far back and giving space to the attacker in hope of support from his midfielders or he is just not doing a good job of marking opposing players. Like most of the Timbers defense, when he does decide to go in for a challenge on an attacker, he performs well, ranking in the 89th percentile for press success percentage and in the 90th percentile for defensive duels. In the future, I would like to see more involvement from Tuiloma, whether it be marking his man tighter or going in for challenges more.

Dario Zuparic (CB) - 5.0

Like his partner, Zuparic had a slightly below-average game as he ranked in the 39th percentile in my defensive grade and the 22nd percentile in my carrying grade. The Croatian also needs to be more active defensively, as he ranked below-average for practically every defensive statistic. Additionally, I would like to see a bit more directness and ambition from Zuparic in his next game, as he attempted just two long balls, two passes into the final third, and one progressive pass. I don’t know if Zuparic feels like he doesn’t have the quality on the ball to consistently move it forward, but this feels like a consistent pattern to me, and I hope that will change against Vancouver this week.

Claudio Bravo (LB) - 7.6

Like his most recent games, Bravo ranked above-average in his playmaking, defensive, and dribbling grades. Bravo has demonstrated over the past few weeks that while he can be caught out of position sometimes, he is definitely willing to pressure opponents and attempt to recover the ball, sometimes over-willing to do so (just look at all of his yellow cards this season). However, in this game, the statistic that stood out to me the most was Bravo’s role in the attack as he registered four shot creating actions, five progressive runs, and carried the ball 59 times per 90 which is good for the 96th percentile among fullbacks. While Bravo could be inefficient with his passing (completing just two of seven crosses), this offensive production from him is definitely promising and should be viewed as a bright spot of this game.

Diego Chara (CM) - 7.2

D. Chara had another good game, ranking above the 62nd percentile for each major category. He displayed good passing and defending, as he helped advance the attack and prevent counterattacks and opportunities for the Galaxy to score. Chara racked up 33 presses per 90 which ranked him in the 96th percentile and his completion percentage was also in the 79th percentile among midfielders. The Colombian also recovered the ball 14 times in the match (including nine times in the opponent’s half), which ranked him in the 99th percentile. As for his passing, Chara attempted 11 passes to the final third and completed 10, which ranked him in roughly the 75th percentile. Additionally, the Colombian completed nine progressive passes in the match and ranked above the 80th percentile in forward passes attempted and forward pass percentage.

Cristhian Paredes (CM) - 3.8

Paredes had a pretty poor game against the Galaxy. He ranked below the 50th percentile for every major category. Although he didn’t receive the ball that much (13th percentile for total actions per 90), the Paraguayan also was not efficient with his opportunities at all as he ranked in the third percentile for total actions percentage. His passing wasn’t great either, as he completed just 57% of his passes (literally in the first percentile), 33% of his passes to the final third (20th percentile), and 44% of his forward passes (2nd percentile) while also not attempting a single long ball in the match. It’s pretty hard to find positives from Paredes’ performance, but he is usually a decent performer for the Timbers and he’ll look to get back to his usual form this week against the Whitecaps.

Sebastian Blanco (CAM) - 5.4

Blanco did not have that great of a game as his offensive and passing grades were both below the 40th percentile. He was oddly quiet for most of the game as he ranked in the 21st percentile for total actions per 90. Additionally, Blanco was not very efficient with his opportunities as he ranked in the 27th percentile in total actions percentage, 6th percentile in pass percentage, and 45th percentile in dribble percentage (even though Blanco attempted 11 dribbles in the match). These three statistics pretty much sum up Blanco’s game as the Argentine struggled to create chances for himself or his teammates, which is likely due to the fact that Blanco returned to the starting lineup after a long injury layoff and had played as a substitute with limited minutes over the last couple of games.

Yimmi Chara (RW) - 7.0

Although he failed to convert two quality opportunities, Y. Chara had a decent game as his passing and pressing grades were both well above-average for players in his position. The Colombian ranked above the 80th percentile in his pressures and defensive duels per 90 and ranked above the 95th percentile in his recoveries and recoveries in the opponent’s half, indicating that Yimmi’s pressing was very good throughout the game. Furthermore, Yimmi created several opportunities for himself and his teammates, as he recorded two shot assists, suffered three fouls, while completing all of his three of his passes to the final third and two of his three passes to the penalty area. Additionally, Yimmi completed seven of his eight forward passes and registered four shot-creating actions in the match. All of these statistics are above-average for wingers, but like Santiago Moreno, Yimmi just needed that final bit of quality to produce the goals Timbers fans have been asking for.

Jaroslaw Niezgoda (ST) - 2.7

Niezgoda again failed to get involved in the game, which can be seen through his total actions grade that ranked him in the 15th percentile of strikers. Additionally, Niezgoda’s shooting, passing, and dribbling grades were unimpressive as he ranked below the 35th percentile for each of those grades. At this point, I think there are two reasons for Niezgoda’s lack of involvement. The first being that he likely is not receiving the service that he needs, as Niezgoda ranked below the 20th percentile in targets per 90 and reception percentage, while also ranking below the 30th percentile for progressive passes received. The second reason for Niezgoda’s lack of involvement in the game is the fact that he can’t create his own shot. Niezgoda ranked below the 20th percentile for carries per 90 and his progressive distance per carry of .18 is lower than the 8th percentile for strikers. Therefore, Niezgoda needs to either receive better service from his attacking members or he needs to figure out ways to create his own shot in order to be an effective contributor to this team.

Santiago Moreno (LW) - 6.3

It’s a shame we didn’t get to see more of Santiago Moreno in this match, as he could have been the player to produce a goal that would have evened up the score line, but he needed to be substituted off to provide cover at right back for Bonilla, who was sent off just before halftime. Like Y. Chara, Moreno had good passing and pressing grades, as he ranked above the 60th percentile for each. He recovered the ball nine times per 90 minutes, including seven in the opponent’s half, ranking him above the 95th percentile and thus showing that his pressing in this game was very good. Additionally, the Colombian attempted a lot of passes into good areas, like his nine passes per 90 minutes to the penalty area, but he couldn’t find the mark on most of them, as he failed to complete a pass to the penalty area or even into the final third for that matter. Similar to his last game, Moreno registered 13 progressive carries per 90, which ranks him in the 99th percentile and carried the ball 49 times per 90 (94th percentile). With all that said, Moreno has the attacking tools to create opportunities for his teammates, he just needs to work on his final ball to make more of an impact on games.

Substitutes:

Justin Rasmussen (RB) - 5.2

Rasmussen had a solid game after filling in as the third choice right back for Bonilla, who was sent off in the match. Overall, the rookie ranked slightly above-average in all of my major statistical categories apart from his defending. Rasmussen averaged slightly more defensive actions then the center-backs, but he did not complete them at a very high rate as the American completed just 50% of his defensive duels and 12.5% of his pressures, which ranked him in the 37th and 9th percentile. He tried to get forward and attempt crosses into the box (7 per 90), but he ultimately couldn’t find anyone or lacked the quality of the final ball, as he completed just 25%. Outside of his crossing, Rasmussen created little opportunities and played a pretty small role in the attack of the Timbers. However, he did not suffer any red cards, which should be looked at as a positive right now for Timbers’ right backs.

Dairon Asprilla () - N/A

Eryk Williamson () - N/A

Marvin Loria () - 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.