I am trying a different format for this one, and if it works will carry it over to my Thorns recaps. Please let me know what you think, good, bad or otherwise.
Coming into this Week 8 matchup it’s been a tale of two clubs for the most part. The Timbers are 1-3-2 on the season, but 1-0-0 at the friendly confines of Providence Park. They currently sit 11th (out of 12) in the West, but it’s still early, and they’re coming off that lone win from last week.
Jeff Attinella got the start in net for this one, his first of the season. Portland was starting with a 4-4-1-1, with Diego Valeri and Fanendo Adi up front. Liam Ridgewell was making his return to the lineup as well.
New York City FC is simply on fire at the moment, with a 5-0-2 record overall, and still unbeaten on the road, 2-0-2. They’re coming off a tie at Atlanta, who currently sits one point behind them with 16 points.
The weather was about as perfect as it gets, and of course the stadium was packed. Hopes were high, as they typically are at home. However, with NYCFC rolling as well as they have been, and the Timbers in flux with new pieces and a new coach.
The scariest part about NYCFC is how they’ve been winning. Superstar, David Villa, has typically been the source of the offense, but so far this young season they’ve been spreading it around. Maximillano Moralez and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi lead the team with four goals apiece. Another six NYCFC players have netted goals, with Jesus Medina chipping in with five assists so far.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Sebastián Blanco. He seemed to be everywhere, intercepting passes, counterattacking, winning corners, and then there was that very high header, which didn’t seem to want to come down, but eventually did for a spectacular goal.
NYCFC: 0 pic.twitter.com/4vTayOzRqE
— Total MLS (@TotalMLS) April 22, 2018
Valeri to Adi. Never. Gets. Old.
— Portland Timbers (@TimbersFC) April 22, 2018
Larrys Mabiala felt he was left out of the festivities from the first half and decided to get his first goal as a Timber midway through the second half.
NYCFC: 0 pic.twitter.com/KymNnt9kgQ
— Total MLS (@TotalMLS) April 22, 2018
Powell thy name be Alvas! He followed up his solid game last week, including an incredible goal, with another gem. However, this time it was more on the defensive side. He covered corners well, was rarely out of position, and if so not far, and hustled the whole time.
WHAT WENT WRONG
I’m going to have to be a nit-picker here, but nothing’s perfect, right? The officiating missed some pretty blatant calls on both clubs. A few were glaring, including a late one where David Villa went down. At least it wasn’t lopsided.
I thought the Timbers did stray a bit to start the second half. Their direct counterattacks through the midfield is what made their first half so successful. However, they began to try their long, over-the-top passes to Adi to begin the second half.
DOING THE DIRTY WORK
Zarek Valentin was everywhere he needed to be today. He played outstanding, and seemed to cut off NYCFC opportunities just as they were developing. He did the dirty work on the backend today and was a great asset out there.
There were a few, but with his recent run of good play, can’t ignore this one for Alvas Powell, from @theaxe
Powell defended well a corner? pic.twitter.com/AkuJNBIMOO
— the axe (@theaxepdx) April 22, 2018
It appears Ridgy was paid a visit from a priestess of the flame. @PortlandTimbros
Looks like Melisandre gave Ridgewell a visit pic.twitter.com/yDLaKIlErZ
— Rip City on they Artificial Grass (@PortlandTimbros) April 22, 2018
Mike Donovan earned his nickname of “The Stat Guy.”
Timbers have never lost at Providence Park against a team that entered the matchweek alone at the top of the MLS standings. 8-0-3 with today’s win. #RCTID
— Mike Donovan (@TheMikeDonovan) April 23, 2018
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE
Up next the Timbers head to San Jose for a match on Saturday May 5th. The Quakes have also had a rough start sitting at 1-2-3 and now occupy the 11th spot in the Western Conference. However, they only have a -2 goal differential with 11 goals for, meaning it could be a back-and-forth affair.