Gluck: Portland Timbers – Out of the Woods?

If you’re part of the Portland Timbers supporter-base or football organization this (should?) be a picture out your rearview mirror – not a vision on what’s ahead.

As noted by Porter in his latest post-game presser – there’s been some bullets flying… part of them their own making…

 

Getting Hot in Portland

For me, even in defeat against Real Salt Lake, the most positive takeaway has been the open discussion about organizational failure – not individual player failure – when results didn’t go well.  You win as a team – you lose as a team; professional or not…

 

Unlike some, I don’t think you ever forget that game against Real Salt Lake; you remember it, embrace it, and never-ever dismiss what it felt like to be so humiliated by that horrible team performance.

 

The next phase – let’s call it the “final attacking third” (math?) sees the Timbers with six games at home and six on the road.  The most important game is the next game.

 

Houston:  A team who’s been unbeaten at home this year.

So what.

As shown last weekend – when counted out – the Timbers aren’t out…

Any team, in any position in the league table, can beat any other team in this league… that may be disappointing to those who like to bet on a sure-thing but for those who thrive on second-chance football (another phrase for parity?) it’s great.

Porter has some guys returning – to include David Guzman, Alvas Powell, Darren Mattocks and Darlington Nagbe.  As for Farfan, Vytas, and Ridgewell I don’t know…

I’d like to see Darlington Nagbe get a rest after the Gold Cup final but I’m not seeing that happen; I’d offer there’s too much at stake to see him begin the game on the bench.

So for the first time (in how long Mike Donovan?) we’re likely to see Adi, along with Blanco, Valeri, and Nagbe as the front four… or as I like to think of it the top half of a Christmas tree…

Adi up top with Valeri and Blanco roaming left, right, and center, while Nagbe provides the (holding) glue between and amongst them and whichever fullback or central midfielder decides to penetrate forward.

I’d expect Porter to be very excited to have these four starting in attack.

But we know there’s many views about football – here’s some thoughts provided by members of the Timbers Army Northern Alliance:

John Brewer:

I’d love to see us make a formation shift to play Adi and Ebobisse  up top. Ebobisse worked for every ball, fought hard and he showed the power and vision that a high draft pick like himself is expected to exhibit. His speed and vision with, Adi’s size and power, is a tough combo to handle. The work ethic he displays is also infectious. 

Matt DeVore:

I’ll need to see a couple more games with the effort we put out Sunday to believe we can make a run this season. Was good to see a makeshift lineup pull one out and play with some heart, which we’ve been missing.  You want consistency but maybe shaking it up and letting some of the younger players get some minutes will light a fire under the veterans.

Haven’t looked sharp for a while and getting to that point where I was a couple seasons ago when I was just waiting for the season to play out so I could start fresh and be excited again for the next year. Funny thing happened though, went on a roll late and won the cup.

Colin Fenn:

 

No matter what we do, our back line is going to be relatively weak. Embrace it and invest in extra attack. You can’t take advantage of our weak back line if you’re scrambling to stop our attack for 90 minutes.

Wesley Halverson:

I really hope Caleb makes the whole squad watch the Vancouver game film. We had nowhere near our First XI, but the guys who were there fought hard and made Vancouver earn everything.

It wasn’t the prettiest game we’ve played and the set piece marking was pretty bad, but I can definitely get behind a team that plays with that much passion and heart.

In closing:

Many worthy thoughts…

I can see Ebobisse being a solid option in attack (off the bench), more-so than Darren Mattocks?

I also like the added grist we’ve seen from Dairon Asprilla; especially on the defending side of the wing.

Others (may?) disagree but it seems Ben Zemanski is more settled this year – I don’t see the uncontrolled wandering/tackling we’ve often seen in the past; his improved play is not misconstrued.

The bench doesn’t look so bad now.

And with Ridgewell, Vytas, and Farfan due to return soon places on the bench will be very hard to come by.  I didn’t sense that earlier this season.

Bottom line at the bottom.

You can’t continue to expect to win if you cede goals; when Timbers have the lead, especially on the road, I’d offer more purposeful possession is needed.

You don’t need to penetrate, with the intent to score a goal, every single time you have the ball; sustaining possession, with patient and purposeful penetration, adds great value.

Especially since it means the opponent doesn’t have the ball – if they don’t have the ball they can’t score goals.

Best Chris

You can follow me on twitter @chrisgluckpwp

Retweets always welcomed…

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