Visiting the East Coast of America and the Home of the Revolution…

So the Timbers go into a huge game this weekend against one of the toughest teams at home… or are they?

I’m not going to talk about wins and losses at home for New England – instead I’ll try to paint a contrast between what they do well when they win – and what doesn’t go so well when they lose – you may find it interesting…

And in return I’ll offer up the same point of view on the Timbers and how well they perform as a team when winning on the road versus gaining a draw or a loss; this is after all (crunch time) – no mercy to be had – three points is a must if the Playoffs are to be a reality this year!

To begin… New England when they win at home versus drawing or losing (the critical bits)…

Contrast – IF New England are to win this game the trends after 23 weeks are pretty clear in a number of specific areas:

  • Possession – 47.80% when they win and 53.68% when they lose or draw.  And this is NOT a function of them playing counter-attacking football – they have only scored one goal this year, at home, on the counter-attack (according to Whoscored.com) – the majority of their home goals have come from the run of play (nine of them).
  • Passing Accuracy – 73.33% when they win and 76.96% when they lose or draw – from my viewpoint, I’d offer this intuits pretty clearly that the more risk they take in trying to generate goal scoring opportunities the more payoff they get – safer does not mean better for New England at home.
  • Passing Accuracy within the Final Third – 69.68% when winning at home and 71.74% when losing or drawing; so the pattern that presents itself (greater risk for greater reward) is reinforced here – specifically in the Final Third – less accuracy, again, intuits more risk – more risk drives more reward.
  • The critical piece when considering bottom line results – Goals Scored per Shots on Goal… when they win that percentage is 41.90%; when they lose it drops down to 5.36%.  That difference is inordinately large and one of the largest drop-offs of any team when comparing winning to losing or drawing…
  • Bottom line here is for New England to win they need to create more risk…

What’s that mean on the pitch – and the run of play?

I’d expect New England to play with more long balls (more direct play) in order to catch Portland in transition – it’s not necessarily a counter-attacking style but more of a sit back, yield some possession and then pop 2nd level passes down the wings with the intent to take shots in and around the 6 yard box as much as possible.

So what about Portland – how do they perform, as a team, when they win versus lose or draw on the road?

Contrast – IF Portland are to win…

  • They possess the ball 52.70% of the time when they win and just 47.71% when they lose or draw; again this isn’t a reflection of counter-attacking football – like New England, the Timbers have scored just one goal ‘classified’ as a counter-attacking goal by Whoscored.com; on the other hand they too… have also scored 9 goals in the run of play.
  • Passing Accuracy – when they win they accuracy averages 83.47% – when they lose it drops 6% points down to 77.59%; this is clearly different from New England; so does better passing drive more accuracy and when it comes to the Final Third???
  • Yes… accuracy within the Final attacking third for Portland is 70.73% when they win and (again a 6% point drop) 64.95% when they lose or draw.  In this case the greater the risk on the road does NOT equate to more chances of winning; patience in possession…
  • Goals Scored versus shots on goal – when they win it’s 43.33% – when they lose it drops 16% points; down to 27.83%…
  • Bottom line here for the Timbers to win would be patience in attack and getting behind the ball (from everyone but the top forward) when in defense.

What’s this mean on the pitch and the run of play?

I’d expect Portland to win the battle of possession and look to play with patience and precision in taking advantage of time and open spaces…  I’d also expect wide play that drives towards and into/around the 18 yard box.

In Closing…

The twist to this is that… the strategic and tactical conditions for Portland to win are exactly the type of conditions that probably best fit the strategic and tactical conditions for New England to win…

So when Caleb Porter offers that he’s nervous he has every right to be – and now you may know a bit more on the reasons why he’s nervous…  if you wanna see the article by Dan Itel that quotes Caleb on being nervous read here

Oh… no notes on defending for this weekend – it should be pretty clear that the defensive team performance – given how the attacking performance should take place is critical…

As for where we might expect to see the goals scored from these two teams?  New England score more goals in and around the six yard box; while the Timbers score more goals in and around the 18 yard box…

Time and space atop the 18 is the kill zone for Portland – while time and space around the 6 yard box is the kill zone for New England.

Three points here really is a ‘must’…

Best, Chris

Retweets welcomed.

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