Timbers vs. Real Salt Lake: 3 Things We Learned From The Game
Sunday, March 08, 2015
Nick Rimando is still a world class keeper.
Portland may not have scored, but they definitely had more chances than RSL. Unfortunately for the Timbers, those chances came in front of Nick Rimando, who handled everything the Timbers threw at him. His reaction save against Rodney Wallace's chance early in the second half was classic Rimando, and another reminder of why he has a spot on the US Men's National Team.
Speaking of solid defense, it appears that the Timbers now have one.
The main reason Real Salt Lake didn't get many looks at the back of Portland's net was the solid performance of Portland's back line pair, designated player Liam Ridgewell and recent off-season acquisition Nat Borchers (formerly of Real Salt Lake, playing in his first regular season matchup against his former team). These two put in such a solid performance that newly signed keeper Adam Kwarasey almost looked bored as the backline deftly stopped most balls before they had a chance to become even close to dangerous. The young, agile keeper and veteran center back pair were an excellent combination. Here's hoping they're the reason for many more clean sheets this year.
Portland still needs to sort out its finishing.
It's tough to make too much of the 0-0 scoreline for a single match, especially with Rimando in the opposing goal. Maybe strikers are missing the link-up play from their starting midfielders, three of whom weren't on the pitch last night. In particular, maybe they really miss those beautiful assists from playmaker Diego Valeri (still recovering from last season's torn ACL). Maybe Porter is still trying to find just the right combination up front, with several scoring threats still on the roster. Whatever the case, it needs to happen soon. Even great defenses don't win games all on their own. At a certain point, the offense needs to step in and finish.
In any case, they have one more week to figure out how to put the ball in the back of the net in time for the next match. And the solid defensive lineup will get what is arguably an even bigger test next weekend, as Portland faces last year's MLS Cup winner, the Los Angeles Galaxy on March 15th.
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