Editorial (April 9, 2019) — The Portland Timbers moved away from what worked against the LA Galaxy. Because of that, the Timbers were embarrassed down in San Jose.
Portland Timbers move away from what worked in loss to San Jose
Fans of the Portland Timbers were feeling optimistic after their 2-1 loss to the LA Galaxy. After moving to a back five, they looked much more defensively stable. Even though they lost the game there were good things for the Timbers to carry with them as they traveled back to California to face the San Jose Earthquakes.
However, here is the kicker: the Timbers moved away from what worked against the Galaxy and ended up losing to the Quakes 3-0.
We don’t have to dive into a tactical breakdown of the back five that head coach Giovanni Savarese pulled out against the Galaxy. We already did that last week. It is important that we notice, though, that what went well defensively in Carson City did not go well in San Jose.
Why did Savarese move away from the five-man backline that worked so well against the Galaxy?
Ill-Placed Confidence in Fullbacks
First and foremost, I think Savarese had too much confidence in his fullbacks. Jorge Villafaña and Jorge Moreira, who both started against the Galaxy, played in more advanced positions Saturday. That is especially directed toward Moreira, who seemed to push high in efforts to connect with Dairon Asprilla.
This was probably due to a mixture of things. Savarese might have underestimated San Jose’s attack. He probably also wanted Portland to get on the score sheet first. Regardless of the reason, putting his fullbacks in a much more attacking role made them much more lackadaisical defensively. The first goal is the perfect example of this.
Villafaña got burned far too easily on the right side by Cristian Espinoza. Yes, it was a lucky deflection off the Timbers’ right back. However, Villafaña’s overall approach to the one-versus-one situation out wide should have been much better.
Along the same line, Moreira did a terrible job marking on Shea Salinas’ run. Caught ball watching, Moreira allowed Salinas to run by him and by the time he realizes it, the Paraguayan couldn’t catch up to the eventual goal scorer.
Veterans Currently Letting Savarese Down
For as long as he has been a part of this Portland side, Timbers fans could count on Deigo Valeri putting the team on his back. However, now at the age of 32 and five games into 2019, Valeri doesn’t look like he is the player that can do that anymore.
First of all, blame can be put on the Argentine for San Jose’s third goal. His poor back pass fell right to the feet of Espinoza.
His 56th-minute penalty miss is also something that wouldn’t have happened in years past.
At the same time, I don’t think it’s time to replace Valeri. Even though he didn’t really have a productive game and hasn’t been able to take control of matches this season so far, these matches are all on the road. Twelve games on the road to start your season is tough. It’s tough mentally and physically. Once the Timbers come back home June 1 against Los Angeles FC, I think we will see a different Diego Valeri.
The Portland Timbers will be traveling to Frisco, Texas, to take on FC Dallas. Saturday against the Earthquakes taught fans that the Timbers need to start by solidifying their backline before they try to attack.
We should expect Savarese to play with a similar five-man backline formation to what he rolled out against the Galaxy.