Timbers’ Offensive Firepower Balanced by Defensive Woes
Monday, September 08, 2014
The Men of the Match:
After going down 2-0 in the early minutes of the second half, Valeri’s attacking pressure rose to another level. The Argentine forward tallied three assists on the night.
Willing to shoot from range, Valeri often tempted San Jose’s backline to press up, creating an open through ball opportunity over the backline. The Timbers’ first goal is a prime example.
Wondolowski’s clinical finishing matched Valeri’s midfield composure and it became the game within the game. After scoring off a rebound in the 21’, Wondolowski slid into open space and guided an untested header back post in the 85’.
Game Recap By the Numbers:
5: Timbers’ Current Playoff Position
Thanks to a draw between DC United and the Vancouver Whitecaps, the Timbers still hold on to the fifth and final playoff position.
14.3: Timbers' Average Shots per Game
Tied for third among MLS teams, the Portland Timbers overall offense ranks in the top five among MLS teams this season.
32: Shots by the Timbers on Sunday against San Jose
A club record and third in Major League Soccer history for total shots in a game, Portland put on an offensive showcase. For the rest of their season, look for more experiments with the back line combination as the defensive concerns continue to linger.
“32 shots to 12. To get 32 shots you have to be a damn good team to get 32 shots. I believe that’s a club record, I think it’s top five in league history. The positive is we came back from down two goals, came back from the death at 3-2. We are a mentally strong team to be able to do that.”
"Again a lot of positives, more than negatives, but we’ve got to do a bit better with our chances," said Porter about the game's overall impression.
Alvas Powell has proven to be fruitful as a winger, but his defensive presence did not match his offensive contributions Sunday. The backline created offensive opportunities, including two goals. But with Powell's game-long defensive absence and Liam Ridgewell's lapses (we can always count on Liam for one of those), the opportunity cost of having an offensively minded backline is evident.
In fact, two defensive players (Powell, Ridgewell) and a substitute midfielder (Kalif Alhassan) scored for Portland, hardly the offensive names one would expect to see on Portland’s score sheet.
“The negative is that in getting 32 shots we probably could have scored 10 goals, realistically. I’m not joking,” said Porter.
“We scored three goals and it’s kind of ironic that we’re saying we didn’t do well enough in the finishing. For me the first 20 minutes we’ve got to find a goal. It was our best first 20 minutes of the year.”
25: San Jose’s shot conversion rate
What San Jose is lacking in offensive firepower, they make up for it in efficiency. Scoring three goals on twelve shots is neither good nor bad. Rather, it’s a game summary number simply for its juxtaposition against Portland’s efforts.
In reality, Portland dominated, but the finishing ability of Chris Wondolowski and Portland’s lack thereof told a different story.
Even Diego Valeri’s near-perfect game couldn’t help a stunned Portland squad overcome a two goal deficit.
The Timbers need to pay this man more.
In the end:
While the point difference between Vancouver and Portland remains the same, the Timbers should be in a 3 point lead for the West's last playoff spot.
San Jose’s goalkeeper did a great job, and the defensive line for blocking or redirecting shots, but Portland’s offensive effort outweighed San Jose’s defensive capability throughout a majority of the match.
Powell created chances, Ridgewell too. Will Johnson contributed well and Valeri had three assists. There is not much more you could’ve asked for.
The Timbers will travel to Colorado to take on the 7th place Rapids on September 13 at 6:00pm PT.
Related Slideshow: Timbers v. San Jose in Pictures
Despite a record-setting offensive night from the Timbers, a 3-3 draw was the final result against the visiting San Jose Earthquakes. Here are pictures from the game.
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