Tag Archives: Portland Timbers

Timbers unbeaten streak extends to 13

Sheba Rawson - Portland Timbers/mlsfemale
Official Portland Timbers Reporter

By Sheba Rawson // @shebainpdx

Saturday, 7/21, Montreal at Portland
Result: 2-2 draw

On a warm night in Providence Park, the Portland Timbers came from behind against the Montreal Impact to draw 2-2, extending their regular season unbeaten streak to thirteen games and maintaining their playoff spot in the standings in the West. While we all would have wanted three points coming into this match, it’s not a bad result for a team playing their third game in seven days, with two of them on the road, in hot weather, against a formidable opponent earlier in the week.

Match recap

The first half, the Timbers certainly looked like a team that had played their hearts out more than once already in the last seven days. A little slower than usual and a little out of step, the team had some trouble putting passes together, especially in the middle of the pitch. A sloppy pass to Julio Cascante to the right of the box was particularly painful, as it lead directly to Montreal making a successful counter, with Saphir Taider finishing off the play to put Montreal ahead 0-1:

Despite coming out a little flat-footed, the Timbers were still able to answer back, as a scramble and slapped-out-rather-than-grabbed save by Montreal keeper Evan Bush gave Samuel Armenteros just the opportunity he needed to finish off and put the Timbers level again:

The elation in the crowd was short-lived, however, as a beautifully placed pass led to a second Montreal goal, this time from Matteo Mancosu not two minutes later, to put Montreal ahead 1-2:

From my vantage point on the west side, the pass happened so quickly that I wasn’t able to tell at the time if Mancosu was offside when the ball was released, but a quick review of the video after the match confirmed that, indeed, it was simply a perfectly timed ball past our defense. Definitely a tough moment, and one that could have deflated the team going into the half, especially after a long, difficult away week.

Fortunately, though, the team came out for the second half with renewed focus and energy. Diego Valeri had a chance at 52′, and he finally sealed the deal at 65′:

I happened to be in the North End behind the goal for this one, and I had a great look at Valeri as his concentration and effort was laser-beam focused on seeing where and when that ball was coming down so he could head it into the back of the net. Seeing him putting 100% of his attention on directing that ball properly, there was never any doubt in my mind that he was going to score.

The Timbers could have pulled back and settled for the draw; but they continued to press the attack, looking for the go-ahead goal. Unfortunately, it never came, with the 2-2 result as the whistle blew.

Quick takes

Sam is a closer. The video from his 2016-2017 season is not an aberration: Armenteros is a finisher. When Bush let the ball go, Armenteros did not hesitate. He knew how to find the back of the net. He is dangerous if he is anywhere near the ball inside the 18. He is clearly both fiercely intelligent/situationally aware when he is near the goal, and he has the skill set to finish the job. I am more than okay with this. (And honestly any excuse I get to throw in a link to Armenteros highlight videos is also fine with me.)

Take your chances, wherever you find them. Sometimes, the night is yours because of flawless passing, harmonic team movement, and clinical strikes. And sometimes it is yours because somebody else screws up, and you take advantage. All four goals happened because players on the opposing team made mistakes, and the attacking team seized the opportunity they’d been given. Whether it is a bad pass by your opponent, defenders shading too high, or a keeper slapping and/or punching a ball and failing to clear it effectively, sometimes this game is about taking advantage of errors made by the other guy. Kudos to the Timbers for taking their moments when they presented themselves.

We have more than one Diego MVP on this team. I LOVE Diego Valeri, but holy cow, there is an argument to be made that the Most Valuable Player to THIS squad is Diego Chara, who missed this match due to yellow card accumulation. Do you know how many games we have won in the last three years when Chara is on the team but not in the lineup? Zero.

ZERO.

Since he signed with the club in early 2011, we’ve only won SEVEN games in all of that time without him in the lineup (eight if you count the play-in, which was technically a draw but of course had to be settled with some, er, memorable kicks from the mark). And since mid-July 2015, the team has gone 0-10-8 in his absence. We all know Chara is good, but his presence is critical to our success in the middle of the field. And (whispers) he is 32. I don’t want to think about the day, hopefully far, far off, when he hangs up his boots, but I’m sure the scouting staff has to be thinking about what the succession plan is. I certainly don’t envy them.

Off the pitch

For many Timbers Army and Rose City Riveters members, game day actually started pretty early. 26 of us participated in our first round of bystander intervention training. A combination of 107 Independent Supporters Trust board members, game day ops volunteers, and 107IST supporters spent 3 1/2 hours of their Saturday morning engaged in learning what we can do as bystanders to prevent, de-escalate, and intervene when the potential for verbal, sexual, and/or physical abuse/violence is present:

Born out of a desire to continue to improve the culture in the stands and to be pro-active to make sure that the stadium is a place where we can all feel safe and welcome as we jump and clap and sing for victory, the training was an excellent opportunity for participants to add to our toolkit. We spent a lot of time talking about how to recognize the potential for trouble; the kinds of responses bystanders can undertake to intervene; and working through specific scenarios to get a little bit out of our comfort zones, to be better prepared to be proactive bystanders, taking care of our fellow humans. We had an overwhelmingly positive response and will be continuing to offer training in the future, with the next session to be held in August.

Next up: the Timbers take on the Houston Dynamo at home this Saturday. See you then!

Featured image: @TimbersFC

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @shebainpdx

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How Sweet It Is: Timbers Beat Sounders Away

Sheba Rawson - Portland Timbers/mlsfemale
Official Portland Timbers Reporter

By Sheba Rawson // @shebainpdx

Saturday, June 30th: Seattle Sounders 2-3 Portland Timbers

If you aren’t from around here, you’re missing out.

The rivalry between the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders teams and supporters spans several decades and at least three leagues, depending on how we rate that odd semi-pro indoor era between NASL and USL. For a sports fan, there are few events more anxiety-producing, fraught with alternating bouts of exhilaration and despair, than games against your team’s most hated opponents. And when it is an away match, the potential for agony and ecstasy in equal measure is second to none.

For me, the MLS era Seattle away matches have particularly special meaning, because since our first MLS Seattle away match I have always been fortunate enough to attend with my daughter (picture from 2011, our first Seattle away together):

“MiniMe” has grown up as a Timbers supporter. From the time she was five years old wandering around the half-empty west side stands during games, begging me to take her to the Fred Meyer family deck bouncy house, to the present, where she is a 19-year-old junior looking for ways to stream matches from her college town of Tacoma, Washington, her support for the Timbers is bred in the bone.

No matter what is happening in my daughter’s busy world, she will see to it that, if it is at all possible, she will attend Cascadia Cup away matches in Seattle and Vancouver. (She is headed to a semester abroad in Spain next January, but her primary focus for renewing her passport this year has been to ensure that she has it in hand in time for the away game against the Vancouver Whitecaps later this season.)

As a Timbers supporter and a mother, there is nothing like heading into the stands with my daughter to support the team we love, win, lose, or draw.

Of course, I also have to acknowledge that, more often than not, we come away from Century Link Stadium with fewer than three points to show for our team’s efforts. Most times, coming into these games, a tie feels like a win. We hugged each other, shivering in the rain, when Futty Danso’s header gave our boys the equalizer and the point in 2011. We consoled each other when a seemingly rudderless group on the pitch got their butts handed to them in that same stadium in 2012.

The EPIC playoff win in Seattle in 2013 was the exception rather than the rule. I knew ALL of this coming into Saturday’s match, so, despite both teams’ current runs of form, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was cautiously optimistic, but prepared for Seattle away to once again be Seattle away. As it turned out, of course, we were not to be disappointed.

Match Recap

What can I say? After a first-half battle that gave both keepers a workout but nothing on the board, the second half provided PLENTY of excitement. Larrys Mabiala got the first point with his brilliant, downward-driven header of a Diego Valeri corner. It bounced cleanly into the left side of the net for the score at 48′:

Three minutes later, Victor Rodriguez answered, with a diving header to equalize for the Sounders at 51′:

Six minutes after THAT, Samuel Armenteros had a beauty of a goal, reminiscent of his goal v LAFC, turning inside against his defender and sending a clean strike with his left foot into the back of the net. Advantage: Timbers:

Eleven minutes later, Chad Marshall marked the Sounders’ second header of the match, equalizing for Seattle at 68′:

Finally, six minutes later, Mabiala had his SECOND header of the match, neatly putting away Valeri’s corner kick by skying over Chad Marshall at 74′. As it turned out, this last goal was the winner, and the Timbers came away with their first regular season Seattle away win in MLS history:

Savoring that first regular season win at Century Link was amazing. Getting to share it with my daughter and my brother? Priceless.

Quick Takes

Whew. I’m tired all over again just typing that recap. A few quick notes now that I’ve had a couple of days to recover:

Depth? Oh my goodness yes. Let’s remember that, at the beginning of the season, we weren’t sure if we had the depth we needed to make it through tough stretches, whether the team faced injuries, busy weeks with Open Cup, etc. This match the team was successful without the likes of Sebastian Blanco, Fanendo Adi, David Guzman, and Liam Ridgewell, just to name a few players one might have assumed were automatic starters on the field at the start of the season. And of course Andy Polo will be back full time from international duty as well. Having this many quality players, and this many possible options for a variety of formations depending on the opposition, bodes well for the team’s chances headed into the second half of the season.

Valeri. ‘Nuf said. Diego Valeri was the hands-down favorite for MLS MVP last year in large part because of his scoring. When Adi went out for a stretch in 2017, Valeri did what the team needed him to do: score goals. Now that we have several scoring threats (including Mabiala!), Valeri continues to do whatever the team needs, which in this case is to feed other people. He had all three assists in the game, and continues to do whatever his team needs. The question is no longer if we build him a statue outside Providence Park: it is simply a question of when.

Armenteros is settling in nicely, thank you very much. You never know when fate will deal you a favorable hand. Diego Valeri, the best Plan B ever, is a Portland Timber in large part because our signing of Mix Diskerud fell through. Now, due to FIFA rules prohibiting his move to another team, we are fortunate enough to have landed a striker of Samuel Armenteros’ caliber on loan from Benevento. A formidable combination of speed, strength, a deadly left foot, and a striker’s hunger for the goal, Armenteros is quite the fortunate find for the club. Here’s hoping we get to keep him around for some time.

The Timbers are now unbeaten in twelve consecutive games including Open Cup matches. Next up: San Jose Earthquakes at Providence Park on Saturday. See you then!

Featured image of Armenteros: @TimbersFC

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @shebainpdx

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A Matter of Pride and Its History

Sheba Rawson - Portland Timbers/mlsfemale
Official Portland Timbers Reporter

By Sheba Rawson // @shebainpdx

It’s Pride Month.  Many teams in MLS and NWSL are officially celebrating with Pride Nights. Many supporters are engaging in #PrideRaiser campaigns to benefit local LGBTQ-friendly organizations (The Timbers Army and Rose City Riveters both have campaigns to benefit Portland’s own OutsideIn). Individual players have also gotten involved in #PlayingForPride.

The Timbers’ own Zarek Valentin, for example, was already committed to a pledge of his own before a rash bet he made forced him to follow through on a promise to wear a Hayley Raso bow in his hair for a match, which turned into an upcoming second Pride fundraiser:

At the national team level, both the USMNT and USWNT are honoring Pride month, with rainbow numbers on their jerseys, just as they did in 2017. This past week, we learned that Jaelene Hinkle declined the opportunity to play for the national team last year because, as she put it, “I just felt so convicted in my spirit that it wasn’t my job to wear this jersey.”

At the time, the press release announcing her withdrawal cited “personal reasons;” this week, she chose to share the reason for her withdrawal on the Christian Broadcasting Network’s 700 Club.  This announcement, just a few days before the start of Pride month celebrations, was met with a less than friendly reception in Portland, where she was met with boos from the Portland stands and at least one snarky two stick:

And, of course, there are those who react to displays honoring Pride Month that folks just “stick to sports.”

Here’s the thing about “sticking to sports”– it should never come at the expense of standing up for human rights.

I completely understand devotion to religious ideals. I was reared American Baptist, went to church three times a week for eighteen years, had family Bible study every morning. But it is not lost on me that the American Baptists were initially the Northern Baptists, who split with the Southern Baptists in 1845 over the issue of using religious interpretations to justify slavery and racism.

Want an extreme example of using religion to treat your fellow human unjustly? Look no further than, for example, Southern Baptist pastor Thorton Stringfellow’s 1860 Cotton Is King, And Pro-Slavery Arguments:

Jesus Christ has not abolished slavery by a prohibitory command…the principle relied on for this purpose, is a fundamental principle of the Mosaic law, under which slavery was instituted by Jehovah himself…It is only sober truth to say, that the institution of slavery has saved from the sword more lives, including their increase, than all the souls who now inhabit this globe. Under the gospel, it has brought within the range of gospel influence, millions of Ham’s descendant’s among ourselves, who but for this institution, would have sunk down to eternal ruin.

My point is not to run down Southern Baptists, or people of any particular religious belief. Throughout history, one can find similar examples, from many faiths. My point instead is to note the danger of using religion to justify inhumane treatment of others, of treating fellow humans as “less than.” I picked slavery as just one obvious example.

Unequal treatment under the law has happened and continues to happen throughout the world based on race, gender, and sexual identity, among other personal characteristics. In our own country, there have been statutes on the books for persons perceived to be wearing clothing not belonging to one’s gender, or for simply gathering in the same establishment together.

Fighting for the rights of LGBTQ to exist and to expect equal treatment under the law arguably came to a head in this country during the Stonewall Uprising in June of 1969, which is the reason Pride Month is historically celebrated in June in the US.

Do you think discrimination against LGBTQ folks isn’t still a problem?  Try engaging in a Pride parade in Turkey or Uganda. Think it isn’t a problem in the US any more? Note that, as of this 2012 Williams Institute study of agencies who serve the homeless in the US, 40% of the homeless youth they serve are LGBTQ youth.

The top two reasons cited for homelessness among this population: family rejection of sexual orientation or gender identity; or being forced out of the home by parents who reject the youth’s sexual orientation or gender identity. And then, of course, there are the victims of violence simply for being LGBTQ.

Let us also remember that much of the soccer world’s recent celebration of Pride Month has been in response to inhumanity. Less than a week after the Pulse nightclub massacre, US Men’s National Team captain Michael Bradley donned a rainbow armband to show his support for the LGBTQ community. And in 2017, Orlando Soccer Stadium unveiled rainbow-hued seats honoring the 49 victims of the tragedy.

It is in this context that the mens’ and womens’ national teams have worn Pride jersey numbers. It is critical to remember that Pride jerseys, parades, and events are not simply to “celebrate” one’s sexuality. More importantly, they are to recognize that all people are worthy of respect, dignity, and basic human rights.

Sometimes some of us in the Timbers Army joke that soccer is our religion, complete with Providence Park as our “church,” games as “worship services,” and songs and chants as our “hymns.” And when it comes to freedom of expression, we’re very good at that in the stands as well, booing both silly and not-so-silly things that take place on the pitch. But I take religious freedom and human rights very seriously.

Sometimes one’s religious tenets forbid eating certain foods, or eating at certain times, or marrying outside the faith, or uncovering one’s hair, or shaving one’s beard, or any of a thousand individual choices. Thankfully, the Constitution protects our freedom of religion. Nobody should be forced to follow a particular state religion, or be denied the opportunity to worship as they choose.

At the same time, nobody’s religious beliefs can be used as an excuse for unequal treatment under the law, let alone to foster an atmosphere where hatred and violence against a class of individuals is somehow regarded as acceptable. Just as it is abhorrent to conceive of using religion as an excuse to allow slavery and racial discrimination to exist, so, too, it is abhorrent to use religion as justification for unequal treatment of LGBTQ persons.

Jaelene Hinkle has the absolute right to worship as she chooses, to profess her faith, and to refuse a national team callup for any reason. I hope that eventually she also learns the difference between religious observance and creating space in the larger world for hate and inequality to thrive.

I will boo the heck out of hate and inequality whenever I see it; and I will also boo when I see people creating the space that allows it to continue to exist.

Peace/shalom/salaam alaikum/namaste.

Featured image: Timbers Army Flicker

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @shebainpdx

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Sam I Am: Timbers Make It Six in a Row

Sheba Rawson - Portland Timbers/mlsfemale
Official Portland Timbers Reporter

By Sheba Rawson // @shebainpdx

Saturday, May 26: 2-3 Win

Samuel Armenteros made the most of his start for the Portland Timbers at Commerce Park, capping a jaw-droppingly powerful first regular season strike from the previous week with a lovely brace this past Saturday, leading the Timbers to a 3-2 away victory over the hapless Colorado Rapids. I think it is fair to say that I have been looking forward to a moment like this for awhile:

Me in February:

Me in March:

Me in April:

Me in May:

This is hardly rocket science or hot takes or anything. If anybody has seen footage of Armenteros’ work with Heracles in 2016-2017, it is easy to see the combination of finishing quality, power, and finesse that Armenteros brings to the pitch:

And let’s all just take a moment to enjoy that BEAUTIFUL first goal from Saturday, complete with a back heel flick to HIMSELF to set up the goal:

Good LORD that was spectacular, and yes it was the second week in a row that Armenteros won MLS Goal of the Week honors.

Quick Takes

I won’t attempt too much of a match recap. Colorado is, to put it mildly, a team that is struggling mightily right now. And if we had been playing against a more capable opponent, they might have done a better job of capitalizing on both our costly errors and on the balance in possession and chances. But here are a few takeaways:

Blanco continues to be awesome. Sebastian Blanco is still as solid a player as ever. When the Timbers were struggling to find their way at the beginning of the season, with five away games and a new coaching staff to start the year, one player consistently performed, initially having a hand in every score in some fashion: Blanco.

That remained true on Saturday as well, with credit for assists on two of the three Timbers goals on the day (one by Armenteros and one by Diego “El Maestro” Valeri) and having significant involvement in the third. While I’m all for a balanced attack and spreading the scoring around, it helps to have somebody as reliably solid in the attack as Blanco.

Rookie mistakes. Poor Julio Cascante also had a hand in both scores for the team, if by “the team” you mean the Rapids. He accidentally deflected a cross from Edgar Castillo into the back of our own net, and then doubled down with a foul on the Rapids’ Dominique Badji that set up a stoppage time penalty awarded to Colorado. The 24-year-old defender stepped into the back line in place of defender Liam Ridgewell.

To Cascante’s credit, he certainly wasn’t expecting to be pressed into this level of service this quickly; and after last week’s early exit by Ridgewell following an injury, Cascante held down the fort admirably against a much more capable Los Angeles FC squad. But while youth often brings speed and agility, it can also bring inconsistency. Here’s hoping that Cascante finds his feet solidly under him this coming Saturday, and that Ridgewell also makes a speedy recovery.

DP = Designated Problem. Coach Gio Savarese has a great problem on his hands: Armenteros has clearly earned the start, but Fanendo Adi is one of three Designated Players on the team. It must be hard to have all of that money riding the bench. But it would be even harder to have Adi start, after the fantastic showing and current form that Armenteros has demonstrated. This could be a problem; or it could be an opportunity.

Recall what happened after an embarrassing loss earlier this season, where veteran player Liam Ridgewell was benched following a less-than-stellar performance that included what appeared to be a central defender checking over his shoulder then continuing simply to jog as he recovered in transition. Here’s what Savarese said at the time:

“I believe that teams have very important players, but those players need to have accountability and need to play as well and push themselves,” Savarese said. “And also everyone on the team needs to feel at every moment their effort in practice and hard work can be rewarded as well. That’s the only thing that will create a great mentality. If a player thinks they are almost a starter, he is going to push to play better and will perform better on the field. That’s the environment we have to create.”

Following a significant period of time on the bench, Ridgewell returned to the field with what looked like a renewed focus and sense of purpose, which he maintained up until the moment of his injury last week. Here’s hoping that when Savarese does give Armenteros the start on Saturday, he continues to demonstrate this philosophy with his players, including Adi, the rest of the week. If we have a healthy competition for starting spots up top, it might wind up making both players’ performance better. And if that means a healthy run up of goals and effort by them both, we all win.

Well, we have several games coming up in the next few days. Looks like you’ll get more than your fill of Sheba recaps. Next up: Los Angeles Galaxy comes to town on Saturday. See you then!

Featured image of Armenteros: @TimbersFC

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @shebainpdx

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

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Timbers Streak Continues with Five (5?!?) Wins

Sheba Rawson - Portland Timbers/mlsfemale
Official Timbers Reporter

By Sheba Rawson // @shebainpdx

Saturday, May 19: 2-1 Win

Two weekend games, two victories, capping a five-game winning streak this season for the Portland Timbers.

Though both games resulted in three points, they were in some ways polar opposites.

The previous weekend was the Portland Timbers’ hundredth game against the Seattle Sounders. It was a historic match against a storied rival, so it had PLENTY of emotion and buildup prior to the game. On the pitch, on the other hand, it was much more of a chess match. With the Sounders decimated by injuries and struggling to find their league form, both sides played strong, compact defense, carefully assessing opponents’ moves and hoping for the opportunity for a successful counterattack.

Saturday, in contrast, was the Timbers’ first regular season game against Los Angeles FC, a new team this year, so there wasn’t really much in the way of pre-match history and buildup. On the field, however, the Timbers were playing against a team with an arsenal of talented weapons and a strong record in their first season out of the gate.

What the match may have lacked in inter-team history, though, it more than made up for in on-field and in-the-stands drama, and a nod to some Timbers history.

Match Recap

The game started off rather inauspiciously, as starting center back and sometime captain Liam Ridgewell hit the deck in the third minute with a non-contact injury. You could tell right then that he knew he was done, as he pounded the ground in frustration. 24-year-old Costa Rican Julio Cascante found himself called upon to help to anchor the back line for the duration. Earlier in the season, journeyman defender Lawrence Olum might have been in the XVIII and gotten the call, but this time it was Cascante’s turn, and to his credit, he held down the fort well.

Forward Fanendo Adi had his first missed chance of the match at 9′ when a transition put him in position to put away the first goal of the game. Unfortunately, he failed to find his target and it clanged off the post. Adi’s only other really exciting moment came at 15′, when he twice actually touched the ref, apparently in an attempt to show center referee Drew Fischer what his opponent was doing to Adi with his elbow. Yikes, Adi. Please use your words.

After 21′, the Timbers had 5 fouls to LAFC’s zero, including a head-scratcher to Timbers defender Larrys Mabiala. I chanted “Diver! Diver!” along with the Timbers Army on Saturday, but I also carefully watched the replay the next day just to be sure, and for the life of me I still don’t know what the foul was. Maaaaaaybe he brushed a player with his left arm? Maybe? Anyway.

The rest of the first half’s excitement included Steven Beitashour‘s yellow for the elbow to Adi’s head; a Latif Blessing miss when Jeff Attinella came out of the goal at 30′; the softest yellow card ever on Diego Chara at 45′; and a first-half stoppage time scare when Cascante did a brilliant job saving a chance and preventing a few heart attacks.  Hey, Julio, welcome. Glad you’re here.

The second half, of course, had all the goals. First, there was Adi’s next big miss of the match at 50′. But then there was Cristhian Paredes, who had just turned all of 20 years old on Friday, with his first Portland Timbers goal on the cleanup:

Not to be outdone, Mexican national team player and LAFC forward Carlos Vela took advantage of a moment of space afforded him by the defense and put this beautifully curling, virtually unstoppable strike into the top left corner. Watching from the west side of the stadium, I knew the moment that it left his foot that it was going in:

Coming into this match, and knowing what a difficult opponent LAFC would be, I’ll be honest: I had already steeled myself for the possibility of a draw. But Samuel Armenteros had other ideas:

Good lord, what a heck of a way to open your regular season account, Sam. Well. Done.

After the LONGEST SIX MINUTES OF STOPPAGE TIME EVER (okay, maybe it just felt like that), the referee finally blew the whistle for full time, and the Timbers’ fifth win in a row was in the books.

Spotlight on: Cascante

When his number was called, I’d just like to point out that Julio Cascante was so sure he wasn’t going to play in the game that he didn’t even have his SOCKS on when he got word that he was going in. There was a mad scramble of staff assistance to get him suited up in a timely fashion. I’m pretty sure the only part of his uniform he was wearing prior to his call up was his shorts (thank goodness for THAT).

Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I also believe his previous total regular season play prior to this game consisted of a grand total of three minutes. And he did a stellar job, keeping a stable back line for the most part against a potentially explosive offense, and a tremendous save in the first half. Well done, Julio. This bodes well for our defensive depth going forward.

Spotlight on: Armenteros

I’ve made no secret of my desire to see Samuel Armenteros get more minutes, both here and on Twitter:

He played extremely well during the preseason, with two goals, two assists, and a chip on his shoulder that showed he is hungry for goals. On Saturday he put it all together for an unforgettable goal, opening his regular season account for the Timbers in spectacular fashion:

What he probably didn’t know is that he also scored in historic fashion, during the singing of “You Are My Sunshine,” which Timber Jim was leading from the main capo stand:

For those who don’t know, the Timbers Army sings “You Are My Sunshine” at or about the 80th minute of every match, in honor of Timber Jim and in memory of his daughter:

Portland Timbers’ 80th minute melody: For Timber Jim, ‘You Are My Sunshine’ evolves toward happiness

We have had a few historic Sunshine Goals in the past, from Fadi Afash in 2004…

…to Ryan Pore in 2010:

Welcome to the Sunshine Club, Sam. Here’s to many, many more.

Quick Takes
El Maestro. Last year, when Adi was out with an injury, Diego Valeri carried the team on his back by donning the scoring mantle. This year, he’s doing it by work his *** off in the middle of the field. Even without the scores and assists, Valeri is everywhere, making the connecting pass, attempting the shot, doing whatever the team requires. Gracias, como siempre, Maestro.

El Matador. I would be remiss if I didn’t thank Byron Alvarez, the Timbers’ all-time USL-era goal-scoring leader, for gracing us with his presence in the stands. I was fortunate to stand with him during the match, listen to his insights, and share his joy as both a player and a true Timbers-for-life-supporter. There is nothing like watching a game with a professional like Alvarez: I’m just taking in the game as an outsider and a fan, so he has insights and anecdotes most of us will never have.

He reminisced, for example, about his days playing for Bob Bradley when he had a brief stint with the MetroStars himself prior to his coming to Portland in 2003. Alvarez noted that, while Bradley was a very disciplined coach, he was also a good example for the players, often participating in the team drills himself. I usually learn more in five minutes of hanging out with El Matador during a game than I do in hours spent reading and studying.

Alvarez insists that the MLS Timbers have never lost when he is in the stadium to watch, so I’m pretty sure this means he needs to be in attendance for EVERY home game going forward. We need to make sure this happens, folks.

Team Goals. Once again, we have unsung heroes in our midst just waiting for their chance to step forward. On Saturday, we had two Timbers score their first regular season goals for the club: Cristhian Paredes and Samuel Armenteros.

It was AMAZING last year to witness El Maestro finally get the respect he is MORE than due as the league MVP, both for his goal-scoring streak and for his general awesomeness on and off the pitch. But I am very much a fan of spreading the love, both in the stands and on the pitch. Here’s to having our goals come from all over the squad this year. I know we have it in us.

Next week has “trap game” written all over it as we take on the last place Colorado Rapids in Commerce City. See you then!

Featured image courtesy: Timbers Army video

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @shebainpdx

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

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Portland Timbers never say die

Sheba Rawson - Portland Timbers/mlsfemale
Official Portland Timbers Reporter

By Sheba Rawson // @shebainpdx

Saturday, May 5: 0-1 Win

For the first time since the move out of Buck Shaw, the Portland Timbers defeated the San Jose Earthquakes 1-0 at Avaya Stadium on Saturday, putting Portland on the good foot heading into next weekend and hopefully reclaiming once and for all any reference to the Goonies by our neighbors to the south. It was an evenly contested match, but Diego “El Maestro” Valeri had the last word, bending a beautiful free kick into the top right corner of the net at the 88th minute, sending the Timbers Army away fans home happy, and bringing back three points for the boys in green (okay, technically, the kits were white, but you know what I mean).

Recap

The Timbers went into this game in a 4-3-2-1 formation, with a lineup much like the one that proved successful against Minnesota United. After a dominant performance against New York City FCJeff Attinella was back in the starting spot in goal and Liam Ridgewell was once again in the starting XI; but other than that the lineup looked pretty much like the one that we saw in our home opener against the Loons.

The first 15-20 minutes the Timbers looked to have the game well in hand, with most of the possession and with Alvas Powell tearing up and down the right sideline like he owned the place. At the outset, it was almost a three-man backfield as Alvas time and again charged forward with pace and control.

It wasn’t until about 25′ when the Earthquakes’ Nick Lima hit a cross that turned out to be more like a shot on goal, that the momentum seemed to shift. Fanendo Adi had a couple of decent chances, but between his 8′ shot off the post, his 11′ mishandling of a pass from Valeri in front of the goal, his miss at 22′, it just wasn’t his night.

In the second half, both teams had their share of chances. Danny Hoesen made Attinella work hard to keep a clean sheet, and Valerie Qazaishvili had a couple of beauties blocked as well. In the end, though, it was Diego Valeri’s free-kick a couple of minutes before stoppage time that made the difference, and the Portland Timbers continued their slow climb out of the cellar in the West:

Quick Takes

Spotlight on Paredes. Once again, midfielder Cristhian Paredes continues to impress me. Take a look at his distribution yesterday:

Screenshot 2018-05-06 at 6.42.49 PM

See all of those green arrows? Those are successful passes and crosses. See how many unsuccessful passes/crosses he had all game? ThreeDavid Guzman has some very healthy competition for that deep midfield pairing with Diego Chara. Frankly, if Paredes keeps it up, that other D-mid starting spot might just belong to him, regardless of when Guzman is healthy again.

Powell continues to demonstrate maturity and poise (what?!?). I already mentioned that Powell looked like he owned the right side of the field in the opening quarter of the game. I am also impressed that he is managing to keep his head. In a game where no fewer than five Timbers received yellow cards, it is noteworthy that none of the yellow card recipients was named Alvas. Keep up the good work, young man.

Armenteros is a savvy player. Take another look at that free kick by Valeri that ultimately proved to be the game-winner. Let’s note, first of all, that Samuel Armenteros was the one who got the foul at the hands of Anibal Godoy. While it is true that this wasn’t the worst offense I’ve ever seen called for a foul, Godoy MORE than had it coming to him, as he had already built up a reputation with the referee by repeatedly plowing into players from behind, finally earning a yellow card after about the fifth offense. Armenteros wisely made the contact evident to officials and earned a free kick in a dangerous spot.

Then there was the free kick itself. Both Shea Salinas and Magnus Eriksson are initially tight on Armenteros, presumably because of the threat he may pose on cleaning up any deflected shot. Take a look at what Armenteros does with them in the wall here:

Armenteros turns from striker threat to offensive lineman, using some impressive blocking to clear a wide space in the wall for Valeri, should he need to use it. As it turned out, of course, Valeri curled the ball high and tight in the corner; but Armenteros was ready to ease the path for him, just in case.

I would love to see Armenteros get significant minutes so that he can find on-field rhythm with Valeri and Sebastian Blanco; it has to be hard to do when you only have a few minutes at the end of a game to sort it out. Adi may be working hard, but I don’t see that much production from him yet this year. We have healthy competition for starting spots in a few roles; I wouldn’t mind seeing a bit more of that mentality at the striker spot.

The only injury of note the team seems to have suffered was at Zarek Valentin‘s expense, apparently from overexuberant goal celebration with teammates (no, really). Fortunately, he was able to get back into the game in the final minutes while sporting a hefty bandage. He seems to be on the mend:

Next week, the Timbers are back home to face our hated rivals, the Seattle Sounders on Sunday, May 13th.

I. Can’t. Wait.

Featured image courtesy: @TimbersFC

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MLS 101: First Team Roster Rules

Sheba Rawson - Portland Timbers/mlsfemale
Official Portland Timbers Reporter

By Sheba Rawson // @shebainpdx

I’ve been a Portland Timbers supporter for about fourteen years, but I’ve only been writing about them since 2017. And, like any career educator, I figure if I’m going to write about something I need to do my homework.

As I learn more about the league, I’m doing my best to get up to speed with everything from roster rules to international slots to homegrown status to TAM, GAM, and more. There are some aspects of MLS that are incredibly difficult to get a handle on. Some pieces of information are easier to find than others, and even when information is publicly available it is often not clearly spelled out and/or it is not easy to find in one place.

I am still at the beginning stages of information gathering and synthesis. I look forward to learning more and am happy to share my journey with you all in the meantime. Today, we’ll answer the question: Who gets to be on my team? What are the roster rules?

Roster basics

How many players are on a team? You’d think that would be a straightforward question, but it turns out the answer is “it depends.” If you’re an MLS club, you can have up to 30 people on your first team roster, but only under certain conditions. (And no, I’m not counting Atlanta United’s roster of 31, since that includes “Atlanta United Fans” as their 31st player.) Here’s how it works.

Senior roster: 20

Spots 1-20 on the roster are the senior roster spots. The salary for these 20 players counts against the club’s salary cap (this year that’s $4,035,000). The minimum salary for players on the senior roster is $67,500.

Supplemental Roster: up to 4

The supplemental roster can have up to 4 players. Those 4 players do not count against the club’s salary cap. Supplemental roster players can include:

  • Minimum salary players
  • Generation Adidas Players
  • Designated Players eligible for the MLS SuperDraft
  • Homegrown Players earning more than the senior minimum salary

Reserve Roster: 4-6

The reserve roster can have 4 players, or as many as 6 players if at least two of them are Homegrown Players. Reserve players have to be 24 or younger by year of birth during the league year. Their base salary is the reserve minimum salary (this year that is $54,500) unless they are Homegrown Players, in which case their salary can be more. So, if you have enough homegrown players, if you can stash at least two of them on the reserve roster, your official first team roster can have up to 30 players.

More roster rules: international spots and homegrown spots

This year, there are 184 international roster spots divided among the 23 clubs, which is 8 spots per club. International spots are tradable, and not just for the current year so some teams may have more than 8 international spots being used any given year.

If you’re a Canadian team, your domestic players are either Canadian citizens, or U.S. citizens or permanent residents (i.e. they have U.S. green cards); or they’ve been granted refugee or asylum status, or they are Homegrown Internationals (internationals who played for a qualifying academy team).

As previously noted, you can also stash homegrown players on the supplemental or reserve roster; but if you have a homegrown player on your supplemental or reserve roster and you move him up to the senior roster during the season, you can’t move him back down unless he is on a minimum salary.

#sheba

So, why doesn’t my first team have a full squad?

There are many reasons that the first team might not be using all 30 slots. It might be that they don’t have enough homegrown players to fill out the supplemental roster, or that they’d run afoul of the salary cap by adding another player, or that the player they want would require an international slot and the team doesn’t have any more at the moment.

The size of the roster can also be impacted by whether or not the first team has a USL affiliate, and where that USL affiliate is located.

USL Affiliates

In 2013, USL and MLS reached an agreement that allowed MLS teams to have second/reserve teams in USL. These USL second teams allow MLS teams to cast a wider net and sign a larger group of players than are allowed under MLS roster rules (maximum of 30 players).

As of this writing, most MLS teams have USL teams (only Columbus, New England, and Orlando City don’t have USL teams). MLS teams can use USL as a training ground for future MLS players, promoting the best of their USL players to their first teams, using the league’s USL Priority Player rule (priority rights to up to three players from USL affiliate).

Depending on how we count LAFC’s affiliate (I mean, Irvine isn’t that far from Los Angeles, but it isn’t exactly right next door either), about half of the USL affiliates are geographically close to their MLS parent teams, sometimes training and/or playing in the same facility.

Here is where I can see the tremendous advantage of having your USL affiliate geographically close to you: you don’t have to make official declarations of loans to USL teams for all of the players playing on your USL squad; it can happen on a week-to-week basis. In the case of the Timbers, for example, this has meant that first team players like Diego Chara and Vytautas Andriuškevičius can easily play for a game or two on the USL side as they recovered from injury and returned to match fitness, all while having access to first team trainers and facilities.

Conversely, players who are officially on the first team’s supplemental roster can still get regular playing time on the second squad, while being ready at a moment’s notice for a late call-up if the roster is thin on any given week (as happened to our squad last year v. the Vancouver Whitecaps).

If your USL affiliate isn’t geographically close to you, on the other hand, you pretty much have to decide when somebody is officially loaned out to USL. I assume that this is why, for example, the Colorado Rapids list only 24 active players on their MLS first team, with six players loaned out to USL sides.

The Rapids’ USL affiliate is the Charlotte Independence, which is over 1,500 miles away from the Rapids’ training facility. Charlotte Independence has 26 on its USL roster. In contrast, the Timbers have 29 active players on their MLS first team, with only 16 players listed on the Timbers 2 USL roster.

If you want to know more about who is officially on your team’s first squad, check out the roster page at the MLS website. It breaks down each team into senior, supplemental, and reserve rosters, as well as noting whether a player is a homegrown player, a designated player, or a player taking up an international roster slot, as well as players out on loan and players with season-ending injuries.

Those are the roster basics as I understand them. If you have questions or feedback, please feel free to leave them in the comments below, or hit me up on twitter at shebainpdx. Next time the Timbers have a bye, we’ll take a look at the rules for international roster spots.

Yowza.

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Portland Timbers Derail NYCFC

Sheba Rawson - Portland Timbers/mlsfemale
Official Portland Timbers Reporter

By Sheba Rawson // @shebainpdx

Sunday, April 22: 3-0 Win

After five performances on the road that ranged from embarrassing to inconsistent (to say the least), and after two thirds of a good game at home that was just enough to allow us to cling to a win, the Portland Timbers finally put in a rock-solid performance for a full 90 minutes this Sunday, handing first-place New York City FC their first defeat of the regular season and earning three points in a decisive 3-0 victory at Providence Park on 4/22.
Recap

Ch-ch-ch-changes

I will admit, when I saw the starting lineup, I was more than a little intrigued. Jeff Attinella got the start at keeper, which I appreciated. After a stint in the doghouse, Liam Ridgewell was back in the lineup next to Larrys Mabiala in front of the goal, with Alvas Powell and Zarek Valentin filling out the rest of the back line. So far so good.

Then, there was the rest of the lineup. Andres Flores got the nod over Andy Polo. The rest of the starters were unchanged from the week before; but holy cow, was the formation different. Diego Valeri up top with Fanendo Adi? And what was everybody else doing? I’m no expert, but MAN the guys were sitting deep. On paper, it might have been 4-4-1-1 but in practice, it looked more like a 6-2-1-1 or even an 8-0-1-1 at times. It was a fascinating look at what we had always been told that coach Gio Savarese would do: change lineups and formations in response to changing opponents.

In this case, Gio adapted the team’s approach to the opposition, to incredible effect.

You know those “possession with purpose” conversations we used to have with Caleb Porter? This was “give the other team possession, but with purpose.” NYCFC had 75% of the possession, but to what end? Our back 4 (or 6 or even 8 at times) gave NYCFC plenty of opportunities to touch the ball…up to a point.

But as our opponents approached the final third, they were, time and again, forced wide and given little opportunities to punch holes in a solid, well organized back line, that held a clean sheet against the top team in the league. And with Blanco, Valeri, Diego Chara, and Cristhian Paredes ready to pounce on any mistakes, dispossessing NYCFC and setting up the counterattack, it was a recipe for success.

When we did have the ball, we made it count. Sebastian Blanco turned in his usual 110%. He berated himself after the game for having not one but two near misses, but those largely existed in the first place because he worked to make them possible. And then, of course, there was this beauty:

It is always thrilling to see a tiny player score on a well-timed header. (Fun fact, I often refer to Blanco as ArgenTiny.) And the arc of that perfectly played ball was a thing of beauty.

The second goal again came from a counterattack, as first Blanco and then Chara worked to steal the ball and transition quickly. Blanco, Chara, and Valeri made short work of the NYCFC back line. After Sean Johnson was unable to handle Valeri’s strike, Adi was there for the tap-in, and suddenly we were up 2-0:

And finally, of course, Larrys Mabiala got to open his account for us, with this lovely header off a corner kick, which put the final score on the board. End result: Timbers 3-0 NYCFC.

Quick takes

Alvas Powell showed maturity. I know last year I often said “That’s So Alvas” in frustration, because, while Powell has always shown tremendous potential, it has nearly always been accompanied by a downside. Powell has frequently made brilliant defensive plays, followed immediately by silly fouls and/or laughably bad giveaways, sometimes within seconds of each other.

This game looked different. Besides that beautiful assist to Blanco, there was one moment in particular, late in the game, that comes to mind. Powell had the ball in the corner, running down the clock, where he held it…held it…held it…and then kicked it off the opposing player for a throw-in.

It was perfectly executed. His rookie year he would have held off the other player beautifully, then immediately thrown an elbow for a costly card or made a terrible giveaway pass. Nice work, Alvas. Here’s hoping we see more of this version of Powell on the pitch this season.

Christhian Paredes is a gem. Hard to believe he is only 19 years old. Last week, he assisted in two of our three goals. This week, you know how many times he lost a tackle? Zero. I love his work so far, and I hope he has a long and happy future with the club.

Ridgewell put in a solid performance. While I don’t particularly care for golf, and I am not in the market for board shorts, I really don’t much care about what Ridgewell posts on social media. All I care about is what he contributes to the team, both on and off the pitch.

Liam Ridgewell was a solid defender this game. He was a field general, constantly talking to the rest of the back line and mids. That back line looked extremely well organized for the full 90. I don’t know what the private conversations between coach and player are, and frankly, I don’t care. Given Ridgewell’s and Mabiala’s ages, I am far more worried about having a consistent, healthy center back pairing going forward.

Speaking of healthy, I assume that the only reason Ridgewell got the start was the knee sprain Bill Tuiloma was carrying this weekend. Here’s hoping our older center backs can stay healthy and focused, no matter which pairing is in the starting lineup.

More Samuel Armenteros, please. Yes, Adi had a decent turn. I STILL want to see Armenteros more. Would have been nice to see him around 65′ or 70′ for Adi. He looked hungry and capable during the preseason.

Well done; but it was only one game. The whole “Gio changes the lineup and strategy for each match” thing we were sold on with the new coach? This game looked pretty, pretty, pretty good. But let’s see how it goes on the road. In particular, let’s see how we close out games away from home.

In the stands

Once again, the Timbers Army killed it in the tifo department. As part of the UN’s International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, many supporter groups with membership in the Independent Supporters Council have carried out anti-racism displays. Since our home opener was the prior weekend, this was our first chance to demonstrate our support for ending racial discrimination, and the Timbers Army did not disappoint:

Well, that was fun! Next week we have a bye, followed by another away match, this time against the San Jose Earthquakes. on 5/5. Let’s see if we can manage to take this successful show on the road for a change. In the meantime, rest up, boys, and get ready. The next home game is 5/13 v. the Seattle Sounders. Until then, I’ll see you online!

Featured image courtesy: Sheba Rawson

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @shebainpdx

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Timbers Road Woes Continue

Sheba Rawson - Portland Timbers/mlsfemale
Official Portland Timbers Reporter

By Sheba Rawson // @shebainpdx

A few thoughts as we (FINALLY) head into our first home match of the season this Saturday. I want to look ahead to Saturday, but first, we need to take a look back.

Sigh.

I had a hard time writing this article because last Sunday’s Portland Timbers match against Orlando City SC was just SO PAINFUL, especially after the first 75 minutes or so showed such promise. I’ve decided that from now on I’m just going to use Phoebe’s philosophy when watching our away games.

Yep. Ahead 2-0 in the 75th minute, I can just turn the game off, right?

Wrong. Sigh.

We had a promising enough start. I was very happy to see Samuel Armenteros in the XI. He looked hungry and capable in preseason, and I’ve been waiting to see him get his chance. We still were without our erstwhile captain Liam Ridgewell, though this time it was apparently due to a knock in training as opposed to our appalling performance a few weeks back.

Between Ridgewell’s absence, Vytautas Andriuškevičius still getting back to fitness and Alvas Powell out injured, I was worried about our back line. I have to say they looked organized enough when we kept the line high, but when balls got inside our 18, it was a different story.

And then, of course, there was Baldomero Toledo. I have often compared his officiating to the actions of a bad substitute teacher, who lets everything slide until late in the day and then sends everyone to the office for things like tapping their pencils on their desks, so I readily admit that I am no fan of his handiwork.

But this particular brand of bad officiating was out of character for him. When  Mohamed El-Munir took down Sebastian Blanco in the box, not only did Toledo not call for a penalty kick; he awarded Blanco his second yellow card and was about to send him off. Fortunately, VAR helped him to see the error of his ways, and a penalty was awarded to the Timbers instead.

Diego Valeri coolly slotted it home, and we went into the half ahead 1-0. My thoughts at the time:

And then there was the second half. It also showed promise, as first Blanco and then Valeri hit woodwork, and then Bill Tuiloma opened his MLS account with a beautiful header fed by Valeri. Ahead 2-0 with less than 20 minutes to go. Time to turn off the movie now, right, Phoebe?

And then…

  • Chris Mueller scored.
  • Dom Dwyer drew a penalty that was much more in Toledo’s wheelhouse, a classic late-game call for minor contact.
  • And Dwyer went in for the kill with the go-ahead goal at 87′.

Takeaways

No excuses. Yes, we have a new coach. Yes, we have a new system. Yes, we had injured players. Yes, the officiating included some real howlers. Honestly, these are all beside the point. If you are ahead 2-0 with fewer than 20 minutes to go, you need to be able to close out the game. Period.

Still looking for consistency in the backWe have players with promise but we still don’t have a rock-solid back five. Both keepers are so-so. Our center backs include an older veteran who has struggled with injury over the last year, another older veteran of other leagues who has had uneven performance, and a younger player with much promise who still needs seasoning.

We also have fullbacks who come with strengths and challenges: Marco Farfan has speed and flashes of brilliance, but his youth and inexperience are also a factor. Vytas is still coming off an injury.

Alvas Powell, I’ve already written about a ton: tremendous potential to be simultaneously awesome and WTF. Zarek Valentin is a smart player and currently our Swiss army knife guy, playing pretty much wherever we need/ask in the back, but he lacks pace.  That back unit has to be SOLID if we are going to play the high line that Gio Savarese apparently wants.

The future has potential. I know these first five games have had grim finishes, but there is still hope. I really do like the look of our signings this year. I hope they find their footing, and quickly.

This Saturday marks the end of a LONG footy drought here in Portland. At long last, after months of offseason and away games during stadium construction, we will finally get to enter Providence Park once more; and I, for one, can’t wait.

Is it Saturday yet? #RCTID

Featured image courtesy: @ProvidencePark_

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @shebainpdx

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A Tale of Two Halves for Portland

Sheba Rawson - Portland Timbers/mlsfemale
Official Timbers Reporter

By Sheba Rawson // @shebainpdx

Saturday, March 31: 2-2 Draw

It’s been a challenging start to the season for the Portland Timbers, with four games in a row on the road and only two points to show for it, but it’s fair to say we’re making progress (if “progress” is defined as moving from a 0-4 drubbing at the hands of a New York Red Bulls B squad to a 2-2 draw three weeks later against a winless Chicago Fire). But the squad is slowly, ever so slowly, showing signs of improvement.

I say this because I remember watching the Timbers-Red Bulls game and just wishing we hadn’t embarrassed ourselves so badly, whereas against Chicago I actually thought we had a shot at three points. So…progress, I guess.

The First Half

The first 45 minutes certainly started out in promising fashion. Sebastian Blanco, the team’s only scorer this year coming into the match, got involved again early, with brilliant movement downfield and an impressive hold-off-your-man-while-executing-a-360-spin-and-pass to Diego Valeri for the first score of the night at 6′. Last year the two Argentine teammates worked well together, and their teamwork was once again on display.

For a moment, it looked as though Blanco would make it 2-nil at the 35th minute, with a hard volley from the left, but Fire keeper Richard Sanchez made a fantastic save to keep the Fire to within one goal going into the half.

In the first half, the Timbers moved the ball well and their defense looked relatively composed. Larrys Mabiala and Marco Farfan were much improved over their performances earlier in the season. Zarek Valentin put in decent service, in spite of the howler he had dribbling the ball out of bounds (to his credit, he had a good sense of humor about it).

The offensive unit also looked to be on the front foot in the first half. There were lots of short, crisp passes and ball movement. In short, we started to see glimpses of what this team might be capable of putting together.

The Second Half

And then, there was the second half.

Was it the wind? Was it that we were playing with a lead? Was it Bastian Schweinsteiger? [Narrator’s voice: yes.]

Whatever it was, the second half saw the Timbers let Chicago back into the match not once, but twice. First, there was Schweinsteiger’s brilliant setup of Nemanja Nikolic for the equalizer at 50′:

The second time was after Blanco’s header (we’ll get to that in a minute), when Schweinsteiger set up the Fire’s Brandon Vincent with a beautiful long, arcing pass from the right for a downward header at 84′ that keeper Jake Gleeson simply couldn’t stop. I know that both Fire goals are credited to other people, but Basti essentially created both of them.

One of the reasons the scoreline was so frustrating was that there were, indeed, flashes of potential brilliance. In addition to Blanco’s volley and near-score in the first half, there was this thing of beauty:

Two things I particularly enjoyed about this score: (1) Andres Flores. Flores came to the Timbers from NASL’s New York Cosmos, where he played for current Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese. His cross into the box was lovely. (2) ArgenTiny (aka Blanco). He is listed at 5’7″ but that HAS to be in his cleats. He is not exactly the tallest target to send the ball to for a header, but he did a beautiful job taking advantage of the room he was given to head the ball in for the score.

Takeaways

  • Blanco aka ArgenTiny aka Chucky continues to be awesome. He has been involved in every single score the Timbers have made this season, and I am here for it. He showed his potential last year in his work with Valeri; I would not at all be surprised if this is a bit of a breakout year for him.
  • Fanendo Adi needs to find his groove. He is doing a decent job of holding up the ball but currently, it looks as though he is still unable to hit the broad side of a barn, which is problematic if you’re a striker; and good LORD Adi please stay onside. Oops, sorry, I said that in my outside voice. Frankly, I’d like to see Samuel Armenteros get more minutes; he looked dangerous, hungry, and capable in the preseason.
  • The back line is still a work in progress. As I mentioned, Mabiala looked better this game than he has earlier this season, and center back Bill Tuiloma also put in a good shift, but we are far from settled in the back. Erstwhile captain Liam Ridgewell has now been benched for two games in a row following the humiliating defeat to the Red Bulls. In our runup to the Cup win in 2015, we had two solid center backs in Ridgewell and Nat Borchers; we are still looking for that level of reliability in the back this year.
  • We have keeper issues. Jake Gleeson has his defenders and his detractors (I’m among the latter), but the hard truth is that between Gleeson and Jeff Attinella we have two keepers who are so-so at best. We’ll see if new keeper coach Guillermo “Memo” Valencia can work some magic, but I have to assume we are looking down the road for something a little more solid in the long term.

The Timbers look to finish up this grueling stretch of road games with a matchup on Sunday against Orlando City SC. Here’s hoping the upward trend continues, and the boys bring back three points. See you next weekend, everyone!

Featured image courtesy: @TimbersFC

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @shebainpdx

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale