Portland Timbers play the second of three matches in the preseason tournament this evening; starting the following players: Clark, Bonilla, Duvall, Cascante, Farfan, Polo, Zambrano, Conechny, Williamson, Asprilla, and Ebobisse.
While this starting lineup shouldn’t scare too many teams that’s okay – the tenor and intent here for Savarese is to sort out the wheat from the chaff.
For me, of interest, will be the play from Conechny and Farfan. Why these two? This year should be a year for both those lads to show their worth.
New players, Bonilla and Duval, shall also be of interest – as for the rest of the lads – well (tbh) I’m not too excited. Sorry…..
In the lead up to this game Savarese noted the team needs to create more imbalance in the opponent when attacking – in other words they need to be less predictable.
Meaning simply playing the ball down one wing, with an intent to cross from that same wing, needs to happen less than last year – what should happen is balls down one wing should transition into the midfield (or switch to the opposite side) more often. From there, yes, returning to the same wing for a cross is reasonable – but moving it to the opposite side is also worthy – even if just to cross it.
If they do this it needs to be quick, two or one touch ball movement.
More damaging to the opponent, though, is to find space within or atop the 18 yard box – from there it is far easier to create and generate shots taken that have a better chance of scoring – or – generating a rebound that, in-turn, can generate another shot or two.
However viewed the stagnant, un-creative play we saw last year needs to come to an end.
What I haven’t read too much about is the Timbers approach in building from the back – when warranted; that would be anytime where the opponent has shut down an opportunity for a quick counter-attack.
The importance of building from the back CANNOT be understated – it’s the quick (two-touch) ball movement that enables your team to create time and space in the middle third of the pitch where multiple types of penetrating passes can occur. This weakness with Portland is not unique – it’s a fundamental flaw with most every team in Major League Soccer as well as with our National Men’s Team.
Anyhow, those are my thoughts, pregame, for tonight; here’s hoping we see some worthy defending and attacking and a positive scoreline for Portland!