I’m still doing the happy dance about what happened on Friday night. I know I’ve adverted to this before, but I am still much heartened by the fact that Portland managed to defend a lead for 45 minutes. Tight defense and a high line on the pitch have not been hallmarks of this team for much of the season, so the fact that we’ve managed to put two good games back to back is a very promising sign.
1. Donovan Ricketts: Made some good saves. Distributed the ball reasonably well, although maybe without the flair that he had shown in some previous matches. For me, Ricketts’s night can be summed up in two words: clean sheet. 5
12. David Horst: I mentioned in my column the other day that the thing that distinguished the Timbers’ performance on Friday night from numerous others this season was that they didn’t commit the one catastrophic blunder in defense that really cost them. This was Horst’s night in a nutshell. He played physical, but more importantly he played smart. Did you know that David Horst is not only taller but also heavier than Connor Casey? I didn’t, perhaps because Casey has a physique reminiscent of the Pillsbury Doughboy. Anyway, Horst kept him well in check and led the defense effectively. Everyone on defense played well, but Horst was Man of the Match for keeping the whole thing solid and organized. 7
14. Steven Smith: I’ve been pretty critical of Smith at times this season, so let me take this opportunity to note that he has really raised his game of late. Earlier on in the season, it seemed like on any given night Smith could be good going forward or good in defense, but not both. He’s been doing better at combining these two phases of late. He had to be selective about getting forward against Colorado, as we were in a defensive posture for a lot of the match, but he did so effectively. Under heavy pressure for most of the match, he was rock solid in defense. Put an absolute reducer on Brian Mullen about half way through the first half, which is an acceptable way to pick up a booking as far as I am concerned. Well played. 6
33. Hanyer Mosquera: He had a bit of a quieter game, but that had a lot to do with the fact that he was covering the spaces while Horst launched himself headlong into incoming attacks. One almost wants to give him co-MOTM, because it was his well crafted play at the back that allowed Horst to be as effective as he was without compromising the integrity of the defense. He also shut Omar Cummings down like an illegal bar. Once again, well played. 6.5
15. Kosuke Kimura: A lot what was said about Smith could also go for Kimura. He managed to get forward a bit more, if only because a lot of the Rapids’ attacks were happening on the other side of the pitch. He worked well with his midfielders and worked a number of good interchanges with Zizzo. The overarching point to be made about what he did was that he stayed solid in defense and made important contributions to the clean sheet that we kept. 6
7. Sal Zizzo: On the team sheet they have Zizzo listed as a midfielder, but there seemed to be a pretty fluid interchange between where he and Nagbe were playing (with the latter listed as a forward). One thing I am sure of is that Tyson Wahl will not want to see him again any time soon. Zizzo gave him an absolutely torrid time and it was no surprise that the cross that resulted in our goal came from that quarter. 6
8. Frank Songo’o: He did all the things that he’s been doing for the last few weeks: driving the ball forward and forcing defenders to make unpleasant choices. He couldn’t seem to get much done, although that may have had something to do with the fact the Portland seemed to have made a conscious decision to attack down the other flank. He got back and helped to cover in defense, which was a welcome change. 5
13. Jack Jewsbury: It’s often said of offensive linemen in the NFL that the fact that their name wasn’t mentioned was a sign that they had a good game. This could certainly be applied to Jewsbury. He played well as a holding midfielder and his covering play allowed Horst and Mosquera to be more effective. 5
21. Diego Chará: Back from suspension and normal service restored. Early in the season I didn’t think much of him. How wrong I was. He is aggressive and spiky. He runs everywhere and makes himself and absolute pest in midfield. The improvement in his game has come in his recent tendency to win ball and turn it into attack. He could probably do with picking up rather fewer bookings (what with the attendant threat of suspension), but it’s kind of what he does. 6
6. Darlington Nagbe: Well, he didn’t score, so you might call this a sort of downward shift in form. He might have scored right after Dike did, but I think he was so shocked not to be called offside that it blew his concentration. Actually, he did well, running at defenders and generally making the most of the relatively smaller number of chances afforded the Timbers by the loads of possession that Colorado had. 6
19 Bright Dike: Should have done better in the 31st minute when he was put through on goal, but a poor touch allowed Marvell Wynne to get back into position. Then he made up for it about 15 minutes later by potting one from a beautiful cross by Zizzo. He is really turning into the kind of player that the Timbers have needed him to be: a physical guy who can hold the ball up, but who has the mobility to be effective in the motion offense. Still working out some elements of his game, but his game seems to be coming along nicely. 6
22. Rodney Wallace: Came on late and made a good argument for the idea that he should not purchase any real estate in the local area. 3
17. Eric Alexander: I know that working as a late sub is not his forte, but he did a good job. He held on to the ball and generally disrupted Colorado’s attempts to get back into the match. 5
9. Kris Boyd: I’ve written a lot about his situation lately and I don’t want to pile on the guy. It is clear at this point that there is an inverse relationship developing between Boyd’s playing time and Portland’s success. His two minutes or so on the pitch were too short to rate. NR
Ok, so we’ve shown that we can win a couple at home. Given how we’ve looked for a lot of the season that’s nothing to sneeze at. In a few days time we get to see if we can translate into a result on the road. It would be nice to carry some form into our matchup with the lime green hordes from up north in two weeks time.