Rapids Beat Timbers 2-1: Three Key Takeaways

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June 3, 2017 - Alan Gordon @16 and Joshua Gatt #45 of the Colorado Rapids try to contain Federico Higuain #10 of Columbus Crew SC at Dick's Sporting Goods Park on June 3, 2017 in Commerce City, Colorado. (Getty Image Sports/Matthew Stockman)

Editorial (June 21, 2017) – The Colorado Rapids won their fifth home game in a row on Saturday night. For the third game in a row, they did so comeing from behind. Thanks to an 89th minute goal from Alan Gordon, the Rapids beat the Timbers 2-1. Portland has now lost five games in a row on the road.

Rapids Beat Timbers 2-1: Three Key Takeaways

This match had several ebbs and flows to it. Portland had a great start with Sebastian Blanco leading the charge. Colorado ended the half well but could not score. Once they got a goal in the second half, they turned it on. Portland responded, but Alan Gordon snatched victory at the death. Here’s my attempt to make sense of it all:

Tactical Adjustments Were Key:

The Rapids started this match on their heels. The center back pairing of Kortne Ford and Axel Sjoberg did well to contain and limit Fenando Adi. Jared Watts and Michael Azira did a similar job on Diego Valeri in midfield. But that left Blanco free to roam. Pablo Mastroeni’s defense is good at negating No. 10 and No. 9 players. But when there’s a free roaming play maker in addition to that, they have trouble.

That led directly to Portland’s goal. After that, the Rapids adjusted. The wide players started marking Blanco more closely when he was in their area. Early on in the first half, Mastroeni made a tactical sub, taking Watts off and moving Mohammed Saeid inside. That gave Colorado more speed in the middle. Saeid brings more of an offensive threat. He was able to keep up with Valeri, Blanco, and Dairon Asprilla. He kept them honest and it slowed down the Timbers offense for much of the final half hour.

Timbers Could Not Finish Their Early Chances:

Portland were soaring in the first 30 minutes. They outshoot the Rapids in the first half and doubled them on corners (8-4) at full time. Despite several Grade A chances, they couldn’t score after the opening goal. Ford and Sjoberg were alert defensively. Tim Howard made several excellent saves.

Blanco probably should have had a brace in this match, but Colorado had several individuals step up. Adi had a few chances, but could not finish. The defense did a number for the full 90 minutes on Valeri, taking him out of the game. By half time, the Timbers probably earned the right to be up 2-0, but they didn’t make it happen.

Alan Gordon Is Still The Man:

What can I say, maybe it’s written into Alan Gordon’s contract? The man scores big, late, dramatic goals. He turned a draw into a win at the death. Again. It was the No. 9’s first goal as a member of the Colorado Rapids and it could not have come at a more perfect time.

Gordon referred to him and Saeid as “weird twins” in the way they’ve been able to link up in the attack. Saeid’s done an excellent job in his own right since coming to the Rapids. His mobility and service have been good. Now he and Gordon have a connection where he’s able to find his forehead with regularity. And it is paying off.

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