First I suppose that I should mention that I am reliably informed that Chivas’s nickname, the Goats, relates to chiva being the Spanish word for goat, as well as to a comment that a Mexican broadcaster apparently made in relation to the side of the same name from Guadalajara. Thanks to one of our readers for providing that information.
Second, I must say that Wednesday’s match perfectly illustrated the breadth of spirit of the Portland Timbers. It’s been a hard season for Chivas. Before our midweek match with them they had only won twice at home and had only score eleven goals. Well lads, it’s Christmas in July and Santa is coming to town. Team on the skids? Fans restless? Sponsors edgy? We have the solution for you.
Sadly, sarcasm is about all we have left.
1. Troy Perkins: He did pretty well on the whole. He kept the tempo high in terms of getting the ball up the field. Not really at fault on the goal. 5
98. Futty Danso: Apropos of nothing, if I have to listen to one more opposing broadcaster pronounce his name as if it was spelled “Dansoo” I will probably burst into flames. Paired with Mosquera in the mix and match grab bag that has been the Timbers defense of late. Seemed to have some moments of real confusion during the first half. He might have closed down the run that led to the goal with a little more alacrity, but I can understand how he might have assumed that Smith wouldn’t get so thoroughly abused on the outside. 4
33. Hanyer Mosquera: He didn’t look that great against the Gals, but he looked better here. Maybe he’s just still shaking off the rust from having spent so much time on the bench. He brought his usual level of athleticism and physical presence to proceedings. Nearly sprung Boyd on a long ball over the top. In general, he looked like the best thing we had going in defense. 5
14. Steven Smith: Once again, our Scot in defense suffered from positioning problems, although he did make more of a showing of getting forward. This suggests that he is adjusting to the 4-2-3-1 formation that the leadership is determined to play. He was beaten like a rented mule by Ryan Smith, who did the sombrero over him in the lead up to the goal. Sadly, this level of domination was not a one off. I really want to like Smith, and for obvious reasons I want him to succeed, but this was really a dire performance. 2
15. Kosuke Kimura: I could start by saying that his showing was better than that against the Gals, but since his deficiencies in that match were so glaring as to be visible from space, that’s really not saying much. In fact, Kimura did a lot of what he was brought into the side for. He was decent in defense and got forward to put balls into the box. Given the quixotic devotion of the management to playing an offense sapping formation, it was about the best that one could expect. 5
21. Diego Chará: He really looked about the only guy in Portland’s midfield who really understood what was going on. It was a relief having him back, since without his presence there is just not that much resistance from the Timbers in the middle of the park. Faut de mieux, MOTM. 5.5
13. Jack Jewsbury: What was his role supposed to be out there? I doubt that even he knew. Sent out once again into a formation that he (and everyone else in the side) doesn’t really understand. He spent much of the match confusing Chará. They need to find a real role for this guy or shift the armband. 3
17. Eric Alexander: More decisive and more aggressive than he was against the Gals. As usual, the starting role fits him and he played pretty well. That said, his tendency to sell himself short in the wide areas of the pitch continued. Everybody in the league knows that this is what he likes to do, and they all play him for it, which robs most of the effectiveness out of his attempts to make runs into the middle of the park. 5
11. Kalif Alhassan: As usual, Alhassan ran hard on the wing and at least tried to provide some service into the middle. Unfortunately, that service was not all that great in terms of the actual quality of the balls sent in. Moreover, given that Portland only had one striker out there, and he was constantly getting drawn back toward the center circle, the fact of the matter was that Alhassan had precious little to aim at for most of the match. 5
6. Darlinton Nagbe: The problem with Nagbe as a central attacking midfielder is not accuracy of his passing, it’s when and where he chooses to hit them. Generally speaking, he has done a poor job in terms of maintaining the requisite tempo in midfield. He gets caught on the ball with distressing frequency and passes negatively far too often. This has the effect of constipating Portland’s offense and it’s really no surprise that this side struggles to score. There is a virtue to moving the ball quickly, even if each particular pass isn’t an incision into the opposing defense. Sadly, this principle seems lost on Nagbe. 3
9. Kris Boyd: Does Boyd look a little heavy to you? He does to me, although I would concede that his stock in trade in not his ability to get up and down the park. No, what he needs is quality service, like the ball that led to his opener against the Gals. Boyd struggled to stay engaged, too often dropping toward the center circle looking for the ball. Still, he nearly tied the game late on, and that play was an illustration of the good things that could happen if he was supplied adequately. 4
7. Sal Zizzo: Brought on for the last twenty minutes for Alexander. His speed might have made a difference, but he attracted a lot of attention from the Goats defense and his technical abilities were not really sufficient to overcome the crowding. 4
10. Danny Mwanga: Mwanga is another guy who doesn’t really seem to thrive on late game substitute appearances. Showed moments of quality, but would really benefit from getting something like the full 90 (in a 4-4-2 formation, but what do I know). 4
8. Frank Songo’o: Came back from the knee tweak that he suffered against SJ and played well when he was sent on in place of the ineffectual Nagbe. He showed what a bit of technique and decisiveness can accomplish, and this should be an object lesson for those playing midfield for Portland: passing and movement are key. 5
Well, now it’s off to Dallas, then home to the Goats, the home to Dallas. These are three very winnable matches, but that and three bucks will get you a cup of coffee.