MLS 2017! Minnesota @ PTFC

The Timbers kickoff MLS 2017 by hosting MLS debutant Minnesota United (MU).  Expectations are high for the 2017 Timbers based on a strong attacking quartet.  The centerback pairing? That will be a problem all season.

Jermaine Taylor is starting for MUFC which is a plus for the Timber attack

It is very wet in Portland.  No way MLS could have predicted that opening the season in early in March in Portland could entail poor weather

0-5′ Valeri with good work tracking back to break up an MUFC advance and relieves the pressure finding Adi who draws the first of countless fouls.  His gesticulations to the referee pleading for a call are in midseason form.  Vytas with a nice chip into Adi who chests it to Valeri.  Valeri volleys into side netting.  The Adi-Valeri battery firing early.  So far Portland dominating the ball as MUFC tries to get settled.  Flicked header off a Portland throw very nearly bounds its way to Blanco before hacked clear by MUFC.

Uh oh, satellite problems.  we get some audio. Now we’re back

5-10′ Chara sprays a beautiful pass across the field to Vytas on the left.  Some indecision between Vytas and Nagbe on the next play and the moment fizzles.  Adi goes down twice in the area but nothing in it for me.  Ridgy takes exception to a couple rough challenges from MUFC.  I get why he was charged up but we are 9′ in.   MUFC still can’t sustain any sort of possession.  Nagbe dancing through midfield  and Blanco skates through a couple defenders before it busts up.  MUFC has its first shot on goal but doesn’t bother Gleeson much.  On replay, if Blanco got past that guy he could have slipped in Nagbe.

10-15′ pretty combination play from PTFC, 1-touch Valeri out wide leads to the first Timbers CK of the season.  Served in to Nagbe on the ground who sends in towards Adi.  Adi goes down easily and ref had a long look.  No call.  Live looked like correct no call.  On replay, still say correct no call but it’s close.  I’ve seen far less given.  Valeri with another pretty touch to Blanco and MUFC trying to shield it out for a GK but Blanco keeps hustling and scrapping and earns a free kick thats essentially a CK.   Great motor but that was a foul on Blanco.

15′ GOAL TIMBERS.  Off that free kick earned by Blanco, Valeri serves in and near post flick from Vytas falls to the new CB Olum at the back post he bundles it in for the opener.  So far the CB delivering the offense.  Like I predicted.  Portland 1  Minnesota 0

15-20′ Timbers looking to build a little possession.  Timbers like working the channels.   the visitors having more trouble with the slick pitch.  So far Timbers mids have done an outstanding job disrupting any MUFC whiff of a counter.  Uh oh.  Referee lecturing the MUFC bench about something.  Everybody keeps their seats.

20-25′ Cross to back post and a meek volley by Valeri hits a MUFC arm/hand before settling nicely for the GK.  No call.  That should have been a PK.

Valeri down.  I think he either gets a blast to the midsection or perhaps a lower area.  He’ll be back and in greater numbers.  Timbers pressing MUFC high. Chara looked like he got one cleanly but definitely not as Chara gets his first yellow of the season.  That was probably a safe prop bet.  Steps on the guys foot in the challenge.  I suppose that was always going to be a yellow.

25-30’MUFC finally growing into the match looking for space.  Tricky swerving ball into the box finds MUFC bodies but eventually cleared quickly by the Timbers as Nagbe races the other way.  He finds Adi who swings to Blanco on the right but the cross is blocked.  A near gift goal for PTFC as attempted header back to the GK was short and Adi pounced.  MUFC letoff there to avoid going 2 behind.

30-35′ MUFC sending in a few speculative crosses but really nothing to troublesome for Gleeson in net.  Replay on that last bungle at the back for MUFC.  Adi collects and angle too tight.  If he sensed Valeri lurking a slip pass to Valeri was a tap in.   MUFC is just giving the ball right back to the Timbers.  That’s bad now and worse in the 70′ as legs get heavier.  Alvas Powell playing with typical passion that does a couple good things and then dissolves in a bundle of frenetic energy.  Nagbe gets popped thinking he was fouled (he kind of took a shove) and falls down cradling the ball.  He gets called for handling.

35-40’Precious little in the way of offensive ideas from MUFC.  Timbers still doing work down the right but the Powell cross had nobody home centrally to target.  He sends it anyways. Ridgwell heads out a MUFC cross.  Guzman chopped down breaking up a MUFC attack and he felt the full effect.

40-45′ Valeri slips to Nagbe at the edge of the 18 but Nagbe’s 1st touch betrays him and he can’t move fwd with a full head of steam.  Cutaway to MLS Commissioner Don Garber and Bruce Arena.  Nagbe finds his groove driving fwd on the left and finding Valeri centrally.  Valeri looking for Adi and the service is off-line.  Blanco waits too long to tee one up cutting in on his left and MUFC smothers.   MUFC needlessly concedes a corner.  dipping service cleared.  Some miscommunication and indecision among Timbers backline on a cross towards back post.

HALFTIME Timbers 1  MUFC 0

45-50′ TIMBERS GOAL. Valeri doubles the advantage right out of the break.  Powell down the right, feeds into Adi out to Blanco on the right and Valeri is first to react and he flicks it into the far corner.  MUFC GK probably cheated too far to the near post but it was a well placed header from Valeri.  Beautiful ball from I think Olum out to Vytas to keep probing the MUFC backline.  Nothing comes from it but nice to switch.  Valeri slides it to Powell on a lung busting run down the right but his cross doesn’t give an unmarked Adi a fair chance.

50-55′ Nagbe with a quiet start to the 2nd half.  Although as I type that he draws a foul.  So far Timbers still focused on opening up MUFC down the right.  Guzman’s presence seems to give Chara a lot more comfort moving fwd.  Vytas with a slalom run through Jermaine Taylor and MUFC defense but he can’t get the cross away.  Still some inspired aggression from him.

MUFC with its first moments of fluid soccer.  MUFC quickly works through Timbers D and a harried/hurried shot dragged well wide.

55-60′ It’s raining in Portland.  Powell agin bursting down the right channel but his cross leaves something to be desired.  He needs to give his 2 targets in the area a chance.  Poor effort from him.   No matter, MUFC immediately give it back and Timbers knock it around their own 1/3 to reestablish possession.  Valeri tried to play in Adi but weren’t of the same mind.  Valeri chips into Adi who chests down to Blanco but the new Timber blazes wide of the near post.

60-65′ MUFC dealt with well by Powell.  MUFC tries to keep it in but thumped clear.  Chara finds Nagbe all alone.  He patiently waits for the Vytas overlap. Vytas crosses to Adi whose volley bounces harmlessly wide of the near post.  Vytas is already more dangerous on crosses than Michael Harrington was in his final season in Portland. Even when MUFC strings something together it feels more “east west” not really asking serious questions of the Timbers backline.

65-70’MUFC sends a dangerous cross across the 6 and Ridgwell drives it behind for a CK.  That was a bright moment for MUFC but dealt with well by Ridgwell.   Nagbe magic cutting through midfield.  Cleared only as far as Blanco but he picks the wrong ball.  He floats one towards the near post when a replay of the Valeri goal was called for with Adi and Valeri lurking towards the back post.  MUFC makes a change with 20′ left.  Loons definitely growing into the match but they’ve left themselves some work to do.  Ridgwell hardly a picture of confidence but he cuts out the latest MUFC surge.

70-75′ Asprilla looks like he’s getting ready for the Timbers.  Perhaps for Blanco?  Unless they want to give Nagbe a break.  MUFC still nicely building possession in the middle third but have yet to unlock much in the final 1/3.  Timbers D is definitely slowing its intensity however as the press has dried up and shifted more into absorbing pressure. Optimistic effort from deep for MUFC sails harmlessly high.  Blanco a little greedy striking from range instead of using his targets in the area.

75-80′ Asprilla on for Blanco.  Seemingly from nothing Vytas fires in a cross but nobody on the Timber attack was anticipating it well and its easily dealt with by MUFC.  Too much space through the middle for MUFC leads to GOAL MINNESOTA.  Ball slipped through to the top of the 18.  Timbers defense looks out of sorts and some evidence of the centerback pairing problems for the Timbers.  Loons set up a grandstand finish to halve the Timbers lead.

80-85′ Timbers again find Powell on the right channel.  I mean take the hint Loons.  Ball sent it by Powell and Adi clattered over.  Clear PK to my eyes.  Adi gets inside position and the MUFC grabs his arm and hauls him down.  Protestations ensure for some reason.  Valeri buries it low to GK right and the Timbers are home and dry.  GOAL PORTLAND  Timbers 3  MUFC 1

85-90′ Valeri subbed off for the now red=haired Mattocks.  Loons Send in a cross towards the back post that nobody can meet.  That was dangerous.  Safe to say the Timbers D has throttled down in the last 20′ or so.  MUFC can’t keep the ball in the final 1/3 and Nagbe takes full advantage.  He carries fwd and finds Adi all alone shaded left.  Adi takes a couple cosmetic touches showing poise and class to slot it home to make it 4. Portland 4 MUFC 1

We’re into the 3′ of stoppage time.  Adi takes on 3 MUFC defenders and does it himself cutting back the last man and firing a left-footed blast to make it 5.

FINAL Portland 5  Minnesota 1

The only real critique is the lax defending in the 2nd half by the defense who clearly took their foot off the gas.  But this offensive attack is as advertised.  Hard to find much fault in the debut here.

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