Editorial (March 12, 2019) — The second week of the 2019 MLS season is over and the Portland Timbers, who many predicted would be top of the Western Conference, have yet to collect three points.
SnowClasico 3 ended with a Colorado Rapids stoppage time goal. Meanwhile, this past Sunday ended with a 4-1 LAFC route. Do these games, specifically Sunday’s match in Los Angeles, foreshadow Portland’s season?
Timbers collapse against LAFC but fans shouldn’t worry just yet
Timbers fans, it doesn’t.
It is no secret that Los Angeles dominated the match against Portland. Carlos Vela put on a show, especially in the second half. While people can question the way Portland’s roster is built — and rightfully so — this performance was more indicative of the two sides.
LAFC was dominant last year at home, only losing once in 17 games. Portland, throughout their history, has been less than great on the road. Last year, they averaged one point per game away from Providence Park. LAFC was always going to have the upper hand.
Because of the renovations to Providence Park, the Timbers play their first 12 matches on the road. This is setting them up for a very slow start. However, as we saw from D.C. United last year, this doesn’t mean the side won’t make the playoffs and be a solid contender for MLS Cup.
Having the fourth-most home wins last year, fans should expect a strong summer. Last year, the Timbers lost 4-0 in New York to the Red Bulls and turned it into a record breaking fifteen games undefeated.
— Joga Bonito USA (@Jasoninho10) March 11, 2019
During the match against LAFC, Diego Chara picked up a second yellow by flicking Carlos Vela’s ear. First of all, was an unbelievably immature way to manage yourself. Chara, who is arguably the most important player on this Timbers team, made a foolish foul.
For years, Portland has struggled to win without Chara on the field. Meanwhile, he has set his side up to travel to Cincinnati without him, against a side that will be having their inaugural home opener on Sunday after playing well in Atlanta this past weekend.
Looking for how Portland reacts next Sunday will give fans a much better picture of how this side will play down the stretch. With the odds stacked against them, will they show fight against the new expansion side Cincinnati?
Understanding Valeri and the Front Four
Though Diego Valeri was active for the 74 minutes he was on the pitch against LAFC, he struggled to make things happen. Against Colorado, Valeri had 89.5 percent pass success percentage and 10 key passes. Against LAFC, though, Valeri had 74.4 percent and one key pass. This was due a large part to where he was receiving the ball.
Valeri spent most of his time around the center circle. Though he found himself in advanced positions, he frequently found himself in the middle of the pitch. There, he can’t create as much as he could in matches where he is most effective.
With Portland’s second half collapse, fans see just how important Valeri is to this Portland attack still. If the Timbers are going to grab some points in this long road stretch they are going to find ways to free him up in the midfield.
╱╱╭╮╲╲ of this
— B⚽️G (@BackOfficeGavin) March 12, 2019