One of my favorite matches of the year is always when the Portland Timbers come to town. The match is usually entertaining and the Timbers supporters travel well. To me, this makes it a must see match of the year.
My colleague (From the South Stands) touched on the main problem with the Rapids this match and it was fundamentals. They were completely gone. The passing, the movement, the pressure and spacing were all unacceptable for a team in Major League Soccer. For me, the Rapids weren't ready to play.
There were many times players would make good moves and then give it away too easily. The lack of shots on target were abysmal. They took 15 shots, three on target, and no shots on target in the first half. Accept for the goal, no shot really troubled Adam Larsen Kwarasey.
Throughout the match it looked like the Timbers were the home team. They were high pressing and taking the game to the Rapids. But in that high pressing, they kept their shape and made it difficult for the Rapids to advance up the field.
I hope the Rapids take advantage of this week and make the needed changes, both physical and mental, so they can take the game to Real Salt Lake in the first leg of the Rocky Mountain Cup.
Here is how I saw the match.
Clint Irwin (6): Irwin made some great saves in this match. But he also had some scrambling errors that almost cost the Rapids. He came out to punch a corner and missed and on a low shot he fumbled the ball. He may have done better on the game winner, but at that distance it is almost impossible unless you are in the right spot.
Michael Harrington (4): Harrington continues to get caught up out of position and has to hustle back. In today's soccer, you need your fullbacks to make runs and get up in attack. But they need to do it at the right time. He was back for the game winner but the Rapids were just outnumbered and couldn't account for every man.
Drew Moor (3): Drew was lucky to finish on the field for this match. He took down Adi late in the second half. If Adi had stayed down Moor would have seen red for denying a goal scoring opportunity. Moor's mistake led to the first goal when he tried to clear the ball and missed. It just opened up the Rapids back line and they couldn't stop Portland on that play.
Axel Sjoberg (5): All Axel needed was a fife to finish this match. He cut his head on a header in the second half and finished with a big wrap around his head. He was once again solid in the back line and was an added attacker late in the second. He even was credited with a shot on target. But after the Rapids equalized, why was he still playing forward? There comes a time when you need to protect a point while being somewhat aggressive. He shouldn't have been given a yellow in the second half, it was just a great tackle.
James Riley (4): Riley was caught in no-mans land on the first goal. He was second defender as Maximillano Urruti cut across the backline, but when Gaston Fernandez was played through he wasn't in position to take him. Riley was also lucky not to get a red card, this time at the start of the second half.
Sam Cronin (6): Cronin almost rescues the day for the Rapids. He takes the chest pass from Luis Solignac out of the air and buries it in the back of the net. As a defensive midfielder he should have been helping secure at least a point and he was no where near being able to assist. It is interesting though, the last two goals for the Rapids have come from one of their defensive midfielders.
Nick LaBrocca (5): Nick was able to get four shots but none of them on goal. He did have a great opportunity in the first half that went just wide and should have been a corner. Otherwise it was a ho-hum sort of evening for LaBrocca.
Vicente Sanchez (2): I am not sure what was wrong with Sanchez but he shouldn't have been on the pitch Saturday evening. His touches and passes were off. He even signaled at the 40' that he needed to be subbed off but they couldn't get him off until halftime. It is tough to see but I think we have seen the last of Sanchez starting. He will be that super-sub that will come on around the 60 minute. He has lost that step that made him the wizard.
Kevin Doyle (6): Doyle was looking to shoot from early on in the match and was doing a good job teaming up with Torres. But after that flurry it was a pretty quiet game for Doyle. He is still getting used to playing with his teammates and playing at altitude. It will be good to see what a week off does for him and how he responds next weekend.
Juan Ramirez (3): Ramirez continues to baffle me. He makes some moves with the ball that make your jaw drop and then makes a horrible pass to waste the effort. He did some of that on Saturday evening. One particular pass occurred in the second half. He makes a wonderful dribble move and has Harrington on his left. Instead of taking his time, he tries to hit it with the outside of his left boot and puts it past the endline.
Gabriel Torres (5): Gabby seemed to be trying things in the match. He would high press but would have no support. His teammates would just stand there and let Portland get the ball out. He was playing up top for most of the match and I just don't see this has his position. He seems to be better coming off one of the wings.
Dillon Powers (5): He was warming up with 5 minutes left in the first half and came on as a sub for Sanchez. That summed up Dillon's evening. It would be nice to settle him in the central attacking midfielder, but I don't see that happening in the current formation.
Luis Solignac (6): Solignac made an incredible chest pass back to Cronin for the goal. Otherwise it was more of the same for the attacker/attacking midfielder.
Lucas Pittinari (5): Not sure why this like-for-like move was made in the 71' when Pittinari came on for LaBrocca. They were down and not generating any attack. This sub should have been Eloundou. But Pittinari put the nice cross into Solignac to set up the goal. But he was also tracking back slowly on the game winner when he should have been tracking back quickly to protect the goal.
That is how I saw the match. What do you think?