Tag Archives: David Guzman

Almost!

Sheba Rawson - Portland Timbers/mlsfemale
Official Portland Timbers Reporter

By Sheba Rawson // @shebainpdx

Sunday, May 14: 1-1 Draw

Man, what to say about Sunday’s match….

After last weekend’s forgettable trouncing, I was really hoping for a rebound against Atlanta. We were at home against an expansion side, Diego Valeri was back in the lineup…it wasn’t an unreasonable expectation. Right?

We lined up in the familiar 4-2-3-1, with Jake Gleeson back in goal as he recovered from injury, but with a couple of changes from the usual setup. Sebastian Blanco took up the left wing spot for the still injured Darlington Nagbe, which put Dairon Asprilla out on the right wing; and Roy Miller took up the starting role next to Liam Ridgewell in the CB spot. I took that to mean that Caleb Porter is still figuring out how to put together a back line until we finally sign our mystery starting defender sometime this summer. I say “mystery starting defender” because, while we have supposedly signed an amazing center back from Turkey’s top flight, they still haven’t announced who it is. With the rumor mill in high gear, at least three different top quality CBs have been named in press reports as having definitely signed with us. At this rate, by midsummer we will have a starting XI made up entirely of Süper Lig center backs.

Match Recap

I’ll make the match recap brief, mostly because there isn’t a lot to say. Our right side was legit terrible, with Asprilla and Alvas Powell making less than stellar decisions. The “That’s So Powell” show was in full effect, with Alvas continuing to make reasonable defensive plays followed immediately by needless giveaways. Fanendo Adi wasn’t particularly sharp, either, reverting to his pre-2015 ways, floating offside too many times and not being particularly effective up top.

For my money, Valeri probably came back from his injury a week too early; he didn’t have his usual crisp play and wasn’t connecting with the ball or with other players as well as he usually does. That left Blanco to carry much of the offensive load, and while his work rate was impressive he didn’t have much to show for it. This lack of offensive firepower left Vytautas Andriuškevičius sitting far back, with little reason to push up/overlap.

Neither side had much to show for their efforts in the first half. Coming into the second half, in the 46th minute, Powell did what Powell does, making a defensive stop and then essentially passing it straight to the other team. After Powell’s misstep in the back, the ball was at the feet of Jeff Larentowicz, who quickly ensured that Julian Gressel was perfectly set up to take a touch at the top of the box and blast it past Gleeson for the score:

Our only answer came just a few minutes later, in the 50th minute. David Guzmán took a free kick from the right side, and Ridgewell headed it in unchallenged for the equalizer:

We ALMOST had the chance to pull ahead, thanks again to Guzmán in stoppage: 

The post giveth, and the post taketh away. We didn’t really deserve to win this one after our terrible possession and inability to close when it mattered, but dang, that would have been a SWEET stoppage time winner. We ended up with a 1-1 draw, a fair result given how we played.

Dangerous plays

There were a couple of dangerous plays in this match that bear discussion. At 11′, Asprilla took a big swing, connecting with a ball to send it up the right sideline, and unintentionally blasted it straight at the oncoming Yamil Asad’s  head. This happened pretty much right in front of me, and I can tell you that Asad went down like a tree:

Asad was examined by both Portland and Atlanta doctors and was allowed back into the game, but it was clear that Portland’s doctor was less than okay with the decision, as he continued animated discussion with the Atlanta staff and with the fourth official. Never mind competitive advantage; I just hope Asad is okay and that MLS is taking concussion protocols seriously.

The second concerning play was a full on scissor tackle by Carlos Carmona in the 35th minute:

I HATE seeing potentially leg-breaking plays like that. Blanco could easily have taken a season-ending injury there. I hope the discipline committee issues a retroactive red for the tackle. There is no room for those kinds of moves in the beautiful game.

Hot takes

I’m pretty sure that Valeri was playing hurt the entire match. No doubt Valeri felt some responsibility to get back on the pitch as the playmaker and spiritual leader of the team, especially after last week’s trouncing at the hands of San Jose, but I think his spirit was more willing than his body was able. Aside from looking to be a step slow and a bit off his game, he wasn’t taking many of the set play kicks that would normally be his, ceding that duty to the capable Guzmán.

Speaking of Guzmán, he continues to be my favorite signing this season. His defense is solid and his transition game is strong. Without his work, that match could have been REALLY ugly.

Speaking of ugly, how about our possession game, eh? Listen, I don’t ever want to hear anybody complain about Darlington Nagbe’s shooting and scoring numbers ever again. We have gone two weeks without him on the field and our possession game is levels of magnitude worse.  Heal quickly, Darlington. We miss your magic touch and your ability to keep the ball and pass accurately under tremendous pressure.

Off the pitch

Once again, I am proud to be a member of the Timbers Army and its nonprofit engine, the 107 Independent Supporters Trust (107IST). Thanks to Valeri’s generous donation of two signed log slices for a raffle, we were able to raise enough money to sponsor Street Soccer USA to the tune of $5,000, supporting their efforts to bring a team of Portland homeless and at risk youth to the Street Soccer tournament in Philadelphia this June. We are grateful to Valeri for his support, and to everyone who chipped in to make this sponsorship possible:

Next up, the boys travel to Montreal to take on the Impact on Saturday. Here’s hoping we’re healthy. See you next weekend!

Featured image of Fanendo Adi courtesy: @TimbersFC

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @shebainpdx

Check us out on instagram @mlsfemale

Subscribe + get caught up: Weekly Dispatch 2017

Getting The Job Done

Sheba Rawson - Portland Timbers/mlsfemale
Official Portland Timbers Reporter

By Sheba Rawson @shebainpdx

Saturday, April 8: 1-3 Win

Another weekend away, another win. That makes two away wins so far this season, which is…let me check…yep, two more away wins than we had in all of 2016. Sure, this was against the hapless Philadelphia Union, but we played plenty of hapless teams away last year and didn’t manage to get the job done, so I’ll take it, thank you very much.

Our away support was more than up to the challenge as we once again sold out our entire away support allocation. East Coast Platoon represented the Timbers Army well:

The ugly

The first third of the match was less than impressive. We looked sloppy on offense and even sloppier on defense. (Heck, I think even David Guzmán was giving away the ball, that’s how sloppy we were.) So it wasn’t surprising that this happened:

Richie Marquez put the ball away handily after the corner to put Philadelphia ahead in the 27th minute. You know who was on the back post for the Portland Timbers on that set piece? NOBODY. When you give away the ball on defense and don’t defend on set pieces, getting scored on is a fairly predictable outcome. I gritted my teeth and settled in for another potentially frustrating result against a team we really should be defeating; but unlike last week’s gathering dread, that frustrated feeling didn’t last long.

The sublime

Fortunately, just a few minutes later, we equalized. Darlington Nagbe, who has sometimes (okay, VERY often) been invisible in the final third of the field this year, came up with his first goal of the season just a few minutes later, and it was a good one:

I’m not entirely sure how he found the space to thread the needle to put the ball into the left corner of the goal, but he did it beautifully.

Nagbe isn’t the most prolific scorer; in his seventh year with the Timbers, he has only scored 25 goals in 192 games.  But when he does score, it is quite often something better than ordinary. (Let’s remember, when Nagbe finally scored his first MLS goal in 2011, it looked like this.) This was my reaction when I watched him put it away on Saturday:

score goals

We went into the half at 1-1, and I was of two minds. On the one hand, we were clearly the better team on the field, and had the firepower to be able to put the game away if we came out swinging. On the other hand, I was there last week when we did essentially the opposite. So when the second half came, I took a deep breath, prepared for the worst, and hoped for the best. (This last sentence pretty much describes me at the second half of every Timbers game, by the way.)

Miller-Marquez, Part Two

I was annoyed that Roy Miller was nowhere near the post when defending on Philadelphia’s set piece in the first half. So it was nice to see a bit of redemption in the second half when Miller headed the ball in to put us ahead:

Technically, the ball deflected from Miller to Marquez, so I guess you could say that Marquez scored on set pieces for both teams. But after careful research (read: “after bantering about it on twitter with a few friends,”) I decided that Miller should still get credit for the goal since it still looked to be on target after he headed it. Congratulations on your first MLS goal, Roy. Hopefully the second one comes a little faster.

Adi, Bomaye

And the hits just keep on coming for Fanendo Adi. After Darren Mattocks was taken down at the edge of the box, the referee pointed to the penalty spot and Adi put it away, high and center:

Adi’s development as a player has been a joy to watch. When he first came to us, he was a bit of a raw talent: he didn’t seem to know how to use his size to hold up the ball; his footwork wasn’t always the best; and he wound up drifting offside distressingly often. But as he has matured as a player, he has come into his own. He is learning to use his size to good advantage. His footwork has improved. And while he still gets offside a fair amount, his scoring pace is undeniable. The penalty kick in the Philadelphia game put Adi at 46 career goals with the Portland Timbers in 96 games, a healthy rate and one that has already put him atop the all-time scoring list for Timbers in all eras–MLS, USL, and NASL. Well done, Adi.

The Kids Are All Right

Meanwhile, can we talk about Marco Farfan? Once again, the 18-year-old homegrown player and Centennial High School senior got the start, this time while Vytautas Andriuškevičius was apparently deemed healthy enough to be on the bench for the game. Take a look at Farfan’s distribution on that left side:

farfan v philly

That, plus seven won tackles, is a fine day’s work for the young man. I love Vytas, but if Marco keeps putting up numbers like these, he is going to make Caleb Porter‘s job delightfully difficult when it comes to choosing a starting left back.

Other hot takes

Jake Gleeson had a couple of outstanding saves in this game. Well done, Jake. Hopefully you’ve gotten the yips out of your system; we’ll unfortunately need you to pull off more stellar saves like that while we sort out our Spinal Tap drummer situation at center back.

Subs: Well, everybody who wanted Porter to sub more/at all last weekend, congratulations. This weekend he used them all (arguably to good effect, given the foul that Mattocks drew) and then had to go down a man at the end to injury (also Darren Mattocks).

More Saprissa Shopping: Gavin Wilkinson was recently spotted on the sidelines of a Saprissa match, possibly scouting defender Julio Cascante.

In addition to David Guzmán and Roy Miller, if you count Shaquille Jiménez, who is currently on loan to the Timbers USL squad, that would be four Saprissa players coming to Portland. Vamos, Ticos.

Congratulations on the away win, boys. Thank you for putting it away decisively. We look forward to seeing you back at home on Saturday v. Kansas City.

Featured image courtesy: Portland Timbers facebook

Follow and chat with me on twitter: @shebainpdx

Check us out on instagram! @mlsfemale

Subscribe + get caught up: Weekly Dispatch 2017

Top of the Table

Official Portland Timbers Reporter

By Sheba Rawson @shebainpdx

Saturday, March 18: 4-2 Win

What’s that, you say? The Portland Timbers are 3-0 and top of the table after three weeks in March? How in the heck did THAT happen?

It has been a crazy start to the season, to say the least. In week two, we won on the road in Los Angeles. The last time a Timbers team pulled off a March road win, I was in high school. (In related news, I am old.) And last Saturday, we managed to defeat a strong Houston Dynamo squad that was having a fine March of their own. Fortunately, the boys came through when it counted.

The first two scores of the match, both on penalty kicks, came from handballs that were so hard to see in person that I had to re-watch the highlights later to know just what had happened. The first, coming at the 10th minute off a ball that deflected off the lifted elbow of DaMarcus Beasley, certainly didn’t look intentional, but who am I to look a gift horse in the mouth?

In any case, Diego Valeri confidently jogged up to the spot and drilled it high and center for the first score of the match. The second, at the 36th minute, was a handball that careened off Diego Chará’s arm as he lifted it up to cover his face during a Cubo Torres free kick. Hard to fault Chará for trying to keep his face from getting drilled, but if you’re going to call the first one you might as well call the second one, I suppose.

There were several long minutes in the first half where I was worried about our ability to withstand Houston’s counterattack, and their score to close out the first half was a perfect example of why. During first half stoppage, we got our clocks cleaned. Alvas Powell was WAY behind the play on the counter, probably a combination of playing so far up on offense and recovering from an injury; and Zarek Valentin, our third string fullback, was playing catch-up much of the half. The result was a quick Torres to Alberth Elis flick, followed by a beautiful and deadly pass from Elis to Romell Quioto for the easy score. If this was a sign of things to come, I didn’t like our chances in the second half.

But then, the second half came, and something was different. I don’t know what adjustments they made, but Valentin and Powell looked like they were hung out to dry a lot less often. In fact, Valentin redeemed himself in the 57th minute with a BEAUTIFUL left-footed cross from the corner, perfectly placed for Valeri to head into the back of the net, and suddenly we were tied again.

IMG_20170318_205450719
Smoke after a goal. We had a lot of those that night. (photo by Sheba Rawson)

Our third goal of the night was probably my favorite. David Guzmán is a beast, in every good way. I may call him Tenacious D for his work in the back (which by the way frees up Chará, thank you very much), but he also works incredibly hard on the offensive side of the ball. And he was rewarded for his efforts last night with what turned out to be the game winner in the 65th minute. With Beasley trying to clear the ball, Guzmán chested it perfectly to Nagbe, who returned the favor by making a ridiculously good spinning-as-he-hit-the-ground pass to Guzmán, who put it away, then kissed the crest following his first score in a Timbers uniform. Sebastian Blanco is definitely DP quality, but I really think in many ways Guzmán might be our most valuable signing of the season so far.

Fanendo Adi was kind of driving me nuts that night. (Okay, not kind of. He really was.) He managed to line up offside a few times, his footwork wasn’t the best, and he was looking gassed toward the end as he missed chance after chance. But just as I was turning to a friend and saying “WHY haven’t we subbed him out yet?” Adi did this at the 87th minute and put us ahead 4-2. Way to shut me up, Adi.

Hot takes

  • I don’t want to go on and on about it, so I’ll just say that Cubo Torres was being kind of a jerk.
  • Alvas Powell reminded me of first-year Powell, which meant moments of brilliance followed by moments of WTF? I do not wish to watch another season of the “That’s So Alvas” show. Hope we’ve seen the last of it for awhile.

  • Our back line still scares me, but Roy Miller wasn’t horrible. He and Guzmán have some playing history together and it shows.

  • We made adjustments at the half and they worked. More of this please.

  • Darlington Nagbe’s ball handling is so solid that I think he might have only had one errant pass the whole first half. I remember because when it happened it felt SO out of the ordinary. I hope he gets a chance to show some of that magic during the USMNT qualifiers this next weekend.

  • Jake Gleeson. Holy cow, son. You had some saves that first half. Nice work.

Other stuff

Prior to the match, the Timbers had a ceremony to honor Nat Borchers, retired center back and amazing human. Nat took the opportunity to salute the Timbers Army one last time and we tried to return the favor. Now Nat is taking up a new position, this time in the broadcast booth. We love you, Nat. Best of luck in this new chapter.

IMG_20170318_193617428
We Are Your Shining City Upon A Hill (photo by Sheba Rawson)

This weekend also marked the Timbers’ Army’s participation in the Independent Supporters Council’s stand against racism.  The tifo display, We Are Your Shining City Upon A Hill, spoke to the Timbers Army’s desire to continue to defend equality as a fundamental human right and to reject racial oppression. In addition to the display, the Timbers Army also sold both “Refugees Welcome” scarves and “Sanctuary” scarves, with proceeds going to charitable organizations who work with immigrants and refugees. And finally, we also held the first of many match day drives, this time collecting food for a local food pantry at Impact NW. Yes, we want to win the battle on the field; but we also want to win the battle for equality and dignity in the broader world.

Well, that was a most excellent weekend. Next stop: Columbus. Hopefully, we can manage to hold down the fort while Nagbe and Guzmán are away on international duty. See you next weekend.

Featured image, David Guzmán celebrates his first goal in a Timbers uniform courtesy: Portland Timbers

Follow and chat with me on twitter: @shebainpdx

Check us out on instagram! @mlsfemale

Subscribe + get caught up: Weekly Dispatch 2017