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Player Grades: Portland Timbers 7-2 Sporting Kansas City

A breakout performance from Sebastian Blanco propels the Timbers to victory on a record-setting night

MLS: Sporting Kansas City at Portland Timbers Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Player grades

On Saturday, the Portland Timbers won 7-2 against Sporting Kansas City in a record-setting performance for the most goals in a game for the Timbers franchise. The Timbers attack came alive in style as every time Timbers players got into good positions, and it seemed impossible for them to miss.

Here’s my breakdown of how the Timbers’ players performed as they moved up into the 9th position in the Western Conference.

Aljaz Ivacic (GK): 3.3

After returning from an injury that left him out of the last couple of games, Ivacic was pretty inactive throughout this game, attempting just 10 passes and completing only seven. Additionally, Ivacic failed to complete any of his three long passes, proving that he again didn’t play much in the buildup of the attack. As for his goalkeeping, Ivacic saved about as much as you would have expected, with his expected conceded goals coming in about even with the actual goals that he gave up. Hopefully, Ivacic can play a larger role in the buildup and try to stretch the field a bit more against San Jose.

Jose Van Rankin (RB): 2.3

On a bright day for most of the Timbers team, Jose Van Rankin had a poor performance, even before getting sent off on a silly challenge that gave him his second yellow card of the game. The Mexican ranked below the 45th percentile for each major category and failed to make much of an impact on the game, whether it be going forward or even defending. It could have been a case of Van Rankin not receiving the ball much, ranking below the 10th percentile for total actions and passes per 90. He didn’t perform very well even when he was near the ball, however, ranking around the 25th percentile for total action percentage and below the 20th percentile for dual percentage. The Mexican didn’t face the ball much defensively (ranking below the 11th percentile for defensive duals and below the 30th percentile for presses), but when he defended against opposing attackers, he performed about average: above the 50th percentile in his recoveries and defensive dual percentage, but below the 50th percentile for his press percentage. Because Van Rankin will be suspended for the next match against San Jose, hopefully he can play a bigger role in carving out a result against a very good Philadelphia side on Sunday.

Dario Zuparic (CB): 4.9

In this match, Zuparic did a good job of moving things forward in the attack and playing smart passes; however, his defense wasn’t that great. The Croatian didn’t receive the ball much (18th percentile for passes), but he completed 94% of his passes, which ranks him in the 89th percentile. Additionally, he completed all of his six long passes in the match and six of his only eight forward passes. Defensively, Zuparic attempted just six pressures in the match, but he succeeded in a lot of them (76th percentile for press percentage). He didn’t go into many defensive duels (or didn’t need to), ranking in the second percentile for recoveries and below the 30th percentile for defensive duels per 90. I know he can’t control all of this, but I would like to see Zuparic become a bit more active and take on a larger role with ball progression, especially over these next few games.

Bill Tuiloma (CB): 3.8

Apart from his beautiful header on a set piece from Eryk Williamson, which resulted in a goal, Tuiloma didn’t have that great of a game: He was pretty sloppy defensively and his passing out of the back was below average. The Kiwi piled up three fouls in the match and a yellow card, all while failing to complete any of his three defensive duels, ranking below the fifth percentile for recoveries, and coming in just the second percentile for press percentage. Tuiloma also didn’t attempt many pressures or defensive duels in the match (he ranked below the 25th percentile for both), so that could be part of the reason why he struggled in his completion percentage. Passing-wise, he did a good job of completing long passes, ranking above the 75th percentile for both passes and completion percentage; however, he generated below-average grades for all other passing statistics. For example, in comparison with Zuparic’s 94% passing accuracy, Tuiloma could only muster up an 83% pass-completion rate (48th percentile). Hopefully, Tuiloma can maintain his goal-scoring form and sharpen up his passing and defending over the next couple of games because that would be a big help to this Timbers back line, especially with their lack of depth at fullback and double game-weeks coming up.

Justin Rasmussen (LB): 5.0

Rasmussen had one of his best games in the Timbers uniform against Sporting KC, ranking above-average in his defensive grade and coming in slightly below average for his passing and playmaking. Although he had a difficult time defending against Sporting KC’s best player, Johnny Russell, and his poor marking led to one of Sporting’s goals, I think Rasmussen played well defensively for most of the game. Because Kansas City made it a focus to attack and test the rookie, he ranked very high in his recoveries (94th percentile) and defensive duals (90th percentile); however, his percentages also rated fairly high as he landed in the 57th percentile for defensive dual percentage and in the 50th percentile for press percentage. Furthermore, Rasmussen did a good job of looking to play forward passes in this match, ranking in the 96th percentile for forward passes and 64th percentile for passes to the final third; however, his completion percentages weren’t all that great, pulling a 32nd percentile for passes to the final third and a 45th percentile for his forward passes. The rookie also did a good job of making himself available for passes (94th percentile for receive percentage), but I would like to see him become more efficient in his next few matches and tidy up some defensive errors.

After having a poor game against the Red Bulls, Rasmussen bounced back against Sporting KC, especially defensively.

Eryk Williamson (CM): 7.2

After a couple of poor performances, Williamson got back to his creative self in this game against Sporting KC. With the introduction of Diego Chara into the starting lineup, the American was given more freedom to go forward and create opportunities for his teammates, arguably his best attribute. Well, Williamson certainly accomplished this task, registering five shot-creating actions, three goal-creating actions, and one assist. It wasn’t just Williamson’s creativity and offensive game that improved — he also made strides defensively. The American registered more pressures in the match, ranking about average, but he also improved his press percentage, ranking in the 70th percentile among midfielders. Williamson still has areas to improve in his defensive game — his recoveries and defensive duels were both well below-average for midfielders — but it is good to see that he is improving in that department.

Diego Chara (CDM): 8.7

Diego Chara had a pretty good all-around performance in his first MLS start since his injury, notching an assist along with a rock solid defensive performance. Chara ranked about average in his pressures, but he completed a large percentage of them (67th percentile). In addition to his pressures, Chara ranked in the 80th percentile for recoveries, 86th percentile for defensive duels, and the 62nd percentile for defensive duel percentage. Offensively, the Colombian had a very good game, registering three shot-creating actions to go with two goal-creating actions. Furthermore, Chara displayed some good passing, completing nearly 90% of his total passes and 90% of his forward passes. He’ll look to maintain this all-around performance in his next game against San Jose.

Cristhian Paredes (CM): 8.4

Like his midfield partner Diego, Paredes had a pretty good all-around performance against Sporting KC, recording two assists, and all his grades came in above-average for players in his position. The Paraguayan had a good defensive performance, ranking above-average in his pressures, defensive duels, and recoveries. One interesting observation from this game was that Paredes did not record a single recovery in the opposition’s half, which is somewhat of an indication of the “drop back and defend” style of play that the Timbers often employ. Additionally, Paredes was very efficient with his passing in this match, completing nearly 95% of his passes, both of his long balls, two of his three passes to the final third, and 90% of his forward passes. I’ve noticed that when the midfield and defense for the Timbers attempt and complete a lot of their forward passes, it usually results in a good performance from the attack or the team in general; hopefully they can hold this trend and string together a couple of positive performances.

Yimmi Chara (RW): 5.7

Yimmi had a fairly inconsistent performance across the board, ranking above-average in his passing and pressing but below-average in his playmaking and dribbling grades. While the Colombian did not attempt many presses in the match (19th percentile), he completed a large number of them (85th percentile for press percentage). Additionally, Yimmi did a great job of recovering the ball, ranking above the 90th percentile for recoveries and recoveries in the opposition’s half. While his defensive production was good in this match, Yimmi really struggled with his dribbling, completing just one of his five dribbles and two of his eight offensive duels, both of which are below the 25th percentile. Yimmi’s passing also wasn’t great: He completed just 72% of his total passes, none of his crosses or passes to the penalty area, and just 50% of his forward passes. Consistency has been an issue for Yimmi all season, and hopefully Blanco’s return to top form will take more pressure off of him — possibly allowing him more space to create chances at a more efficient rate.

Nathan (ST): 6.8

On his MLS debut for the Timbers, Nathan had about as good of a game as you could expect. The Brazilian was fairly clinical with his finishing, but he definitely benefited from the midfield and the attacking quality from the rest of the Timbers. As a whole, Nathan ranked about average in his aerials and passing grade, but well below average in his total actions, dribbling, and pressing grades. With his two goals in this game, Timbers fans will be very excited for what’s to come from this youngster, but I would urge you to be cautiously optimistic: I think one of the main issues with the Timbers strikers this season has been their lack of touches or involvement in the game, and I think the same can be said for Nathan against Sporting KC. He recorded just under 50 total actions per 90 (22nd percentile), which still isn’t that great for strikers, although he did have better off-ball movement than Niezgoda and was much more mobile. While his low involvement draws some concern from me, Timbers fans will like to see that when Nathan received the ball, he received it in good areas — just over six touches in the penalty area per 90 (84th percentile). Maybe more experience with the first team will encourage Timbers players to get Nathan involved more and could possibly provide him with more confidence to take on opponents. (He struggled in that area, too.) Regardless, this was a great opening performance from the young striker, and I’m excited to see what he can do over the next few games.

As you can see, Nathan is already getting into more dangerous positions than Niezgoda in his first MLS start.

Sebastian Blanco (LW): 10.0

Apart from his pressing, which hasn’t been a staple of Blanco’s game anyway, the Argentine had a very good performance, recording two goals and two assists. While fans will point to his goals and assists as the reason for such a good performance, Blanco also ranked above the 60th percentile for all of his attacking and passing grades. Additionally, the Argentine received the MLS Player of the Week award for his breakout performance this season, which tells you pretty much everything you need to know about his quality in this game. More impressively, Blanco was able to generate four shot-creating opportunities, three goal-creating opportunities, and two shot assists on under 16 touches in the attacking third (24th percentile). As you can see, Blanco definitely made the most of his opportunities and was very clinical with both his passing and shooting when he needed to be. If he can maintain close to the same level of performance, firing like he did last Saturday, the Timbers will be a very difficult team to beat regardless of who the opponent is.

Substitutes:

Santiago Moreno () - N/A

Tege Ikoba () - N/A

Pablo Bonilla () - N/A

Zac McGraw () - N/A

Marvin Loria () - N/A

These players aren’t graded because I currently don’t have a grading system that will fairly evaluate players who played less than 30 minutes compared to the rest of the team, who played most of the game. This is something that I want to improve on in the future.

Poll

What would you prefer me to add for future player grade articles?

This poll is closed

  • 52%
    A chart that shows the trend of the team over the last three games
    (20 votes)
  • 36%
    More individual player grade charts
    (14 votes)
  • 10%
    Faster publishing times
    (4 votes)
38 votes total Vote Now