Colorado Rapids – March 30 @ 4:00 MT (subject to change)
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We’ve been in touch with the Colorado ticket office as of January 10th, but they aren’t ready to announce ticket details for traveling supporters. Expect more information on ticket purchasing in February.
Recent posts about Colorado Rapids:
Sometimes matches are won with ninety minutes of dominance. Sometimes they are won with a moment of brilliance. And sometimes they are won with dogged pragmatism.
Friday night, the Timbers won with the latter. Facing a desperate, physical Colorado side, the Timbers made a bet that their wings could make enough plays to put Portland ahead and their defense could keep Colorado’s recently muted attack quiet. That’s exactly what happened.
From the outset, the Timbers displayed a much more direct attack than they have showed over the course of the past month. While Colorado and Tony Cascio earned the first opportunity with a shot from the left side of the box that Donovan Ricketts snuffed out, the most influential player in the early going was Sal Zizzo. After repeatedly terrorizing former Sounder Tyson Wahl on the right side of the Timbers midfield, the majority of Portland’s first half chances came from Zizzo’s crosses.
Portland couldn’t find the finishing touch early on, however, and Colorado did nicely to earn themselves a couple half-chances as the half went along. In the seventeenth minute, Martin Rivero turned Jack Jewsbury around and pulled the trigger form twenty yards, but Ricketts made the diving save.
Portland’s first great opportunity wouldn’t come until the thirty-fifth minute, when Diego Chara deflected Tyrone Marshall’s pass and found Bright Dike running into the box. The former USL man, however, couldn’t steer his left-footed shot on frame.
That breakthrough was a harbinger, however, as before halftime the Timbers unleashed a triumvirate of chances that put them on top. In the forty-fifth minute, Kosuke Kimura flew forward on the right wing and laid the ball off for Zizzo. Sal switched the ball to a lonely Franck Songo’o on the left wing. Songo’o’s first-time shot took a deflection off of Drew Moor and was seemingly destined to nestle inside the near post, but Matt Pickens made a remarkable kick save to preserve the draw.
Not even Pickens could come to the Rapids’ rescue a minute later. After Diego Chara started the break by finding Darlington Nagbe near midfield, Nagbe took the ball into the attacking third and laid the ball off the Sal Zizzo. Zizzo – after having so many good crosses wasted early on – sent a perfect ball to the top of the six, past Pickens, where Bright Dike was waiting on the end of a brilliant run for the easy finish. Textbook stuff.
The Timbers weren’t done, however. Seconds later, with smoke wafting in the Jeld-Wen Field air, David Horst intercepted a Colorado pass in the defensive third and went on a mad dash forward into space. After giving to Songo’o on the left wing, Darlington Nagbe made a big run from the right wing where Songo’o found him in behind the defense on a magnificent through ball. The stubbornly right-footed youngster, however, couldn’t quite turn the ball on frame past a helpless Pickens, as his chip sailed just wide.
Overwhelmed by Portland’s pace on the wings, Colorado came out in the second half looking to turn the match into a brutishly physical affair. The Timbers were more the happy to oblige.
For much of the half, the Rapids enjoyed plenty of harmless possession, as their midfield was incapable of breaking down a stout Timbers defense. The best chance of the half for Portland came in the fifty-fourth minute, when Jewsbury collected a clearance thirty yards out and stung a shot from distance that was only kept out by another great Pickens save.
Colorado couldn’t create anything of note until the eighty-fifth minute, when they would finally ask a couple questions of the Timbers defense. After Andre Akpan found a sliver of a step on Steven Smith on the right wing, he picked out Omar Cummings in the center of the box. The veteran Jamaican striker, however, made a mess of his header, flashing it well wide of the far post.
The Rapids earned another chance off the Timbers’ left wing in stoppage time when Omar Cummings played a ball forward for Jaime Castrillon. The Colombian midfielder cleverly laid the ball off for Akpan, but his low shot went harmlessly wide.
From there, the Timbers’ defense regained its footing, keeping Colorado comfortably at bay for the rest of the night. The win, remarkably, marks the first time in 2012 that the Timbers have won back-to-back games, and momentarily pulls Portland out of last place in the Western Conference.
- First, a word about Caleb Porter. I won’t go so far as to say it’s a bad hire, as Porter is certainly one of the hottest young coaching prospects out there. But for an organization that was lamenting a lack of MLS experience in the front office a few short months ago, it is a little bit surprising. Porter’s hire is nothing if not risky. Porter has no professional experience, and the only major project he undertook with professional-level players ended in embarrassment. Still, Porter has extensive experience developing young players – something that will come in handy with a Timbers team with several key young pieces.
- The tactics on Friday were much more Wilkinsonesque. For much of the match the Timbers were content to concede a fair amount of possession with Portland often having eight players behind the ball. The defense was much better as a result. When your wing players are as hot as Sal Zizzo and Franck Songo’o are right now, it’s not a terrible strategy. Odds are those guys are going to break out at some point and set up a goal. It was less than aesthetically pleasing, but ultimately produced three points.
Donovan Ricketts, 6 – Good positioning throughout the night made a few dangerous spots relatively routine. Struggled a little bit in distribution, but that’s pretty much baseline around Morrison Street.
Steven Smith, 5.5 – Had a good game. Got beat once which led to a dangerous Omar Cummings header, but was otherwise solid.
David Horst, 6.5 – The mercurial center back was very much in form on Friday. Physically dominant, disciplined, and decisive.
Hanyer Mosquera, 7.5 – Constantly in the right spot, winning the right ball. Dominant in the air all night, making Colorado’s seven corner kicks mostly routine. Outstanding stuff from Mosco all night.
Kosuke Kimura, 5.5 – Got beat a couple times defensively – and got nutmeged again – but had an especially good night coming forward.
Jack Jewsbury, 6 – I’ve come to really enjoy watching Jack play in this role. Very solid defensively, but his sharp, simple passing is what has made him so effective as a true holding midfielder. Also, heck of a crack from distance in the second half, as he was a little bit unlucky to get robbed by Pickens.
Diego Chara, 7 – As fun as it is to watch Jack, nothing compares to watching Diego Chara. He was his typical sharp self on Friday, even getting out of the match without a yellow card.
Darlington Nagbe, 6 – Nice game from Darlington. Whereas his central runs in the past always seemed to lack direction, Darlington is clearly developing a number ten’s instincts. Now his runs are setting up other players, and Darlington has his head up to find them. That said, still has to learn how to use the left foot.
Franck Songo’o, 6 – Had a tough task taking on Drew Moor on Friday, but did reasonably well. The highlight of the night – and perhaps of the season – for Franck was his incredible through ball for Nagbe at the end of the half. Unfortunate not to get an assist for his remarkable efforts.
Bright Dike, 7 – Great movement, clinical finish. I must admit, I was wrong about Bright. I didn’t think he had the technical ability to be a legitimate MLS contributor. While he still struggles with his touch once in a while, he’s improved it and his striking instincts enough to become a force up front.
Sal Zizzo, 7.5 – Where has this guy been all my life? Had his way with the left side of Colorado’s defense and was rewarded with another quality assist.
Eric Alexander, 5.5 – This move made some sense, as Darlington had put in good miles throughout the game and Eric provides a little more defensively.
Rodney Wallace, 2.5 – The previously well-axled wheels started wobbling a little bit the moment Rod stepped on the field. He basically ran around, gave the ball away needlessly, and showed reluctance to defend his position.
Kris Boyd, INC. – Oh yeah, and then there’s this guy. He didn’t do much.
Preseason Prediction: Timbers 1, Rapids 1. Songo’o, Larentowicz.
Actual Result: Timebrs 1, Rapids 0. Dike.
Onward, Rose City!
 It’s worth pointing out that on that play Smith was hung out to dry a little bit by a lack of support from his left midfielder.