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Timbers v. Earthquakes: Three Things We Learned

Thursday, October 09, 2014

 

Diego Valeri, photo cred - betony

The Man of the Match. The Man of the Season. Photo Credit: Betony Mezsaros

The Portland Timbers looked dominant against a Wondolowski-less San Jose Earthquakes, winning 3-0 thanks to Rodney Wallace (41') and Diego Valeri (PK 51', 73'). Portland's ability to build up through the middle condensed San Jose's midfield, and in the process opened up the flanks for a more complete Timbers offensive attack tonight.

Here are three things we learned from tonight's contest.

1. The Timbers Create Give-And-Go Opportunities Down the Flanks Well

Their speed and quickness at all positions is utilized well on the flanks, giving them ample give-and-go opportunities against weaker defensive teams.

What's missing is that trigger being pulled on the last pass. Too often a player on the flank does not pass it at the first sight of an opening. They take an extra touch, allowing the defense to close the gap, and subsequently steal or block the pass.

Rodney Wallace and Michael Harrington are the main perpetrators; Diego Chara and Diego Valeri do a good job of anticipating the opening. As for the former, it seems as though they rely on their quickness and dribbling pace too much to create an opening, when they need to trust their teammates and instincts more.

However, Wallace's goal was a culmination of give and go's between Nagbe, Adi, and Wallace. Simple plays combined with changes in pace tend to create open opportunities, especially for a young, offensive-oriented team like the Timbers.

2. Rodney's Got His Groove Back

Three goals in two games for Wallace. Five goals in two games for the Timbers. Need I say more? Nope, but I will.

Wallace has the individual skill to get himself out of a jam, but his speed in open space is his main weapon. With Adi able to draw and withstand two defenders (much like Jozy Altidore), that creates open lanes for Wallace to run into, further utilizing his quickness, agility and finishing, giving him better opportunities on goal.

Wallace's shot on goal in the 73' minute was low and hard, making it difficult for San Jose's keeper to retain control. The easy rebound was swept up by Diego Valeri for his second goal of the match, but it was the result of Wallace's shot placement.

3. Valeri is the Designated Penalty Kicker

Forget the designated player tag; Valeri is collective and precise when it comes to his PK's. He opened his hips up and tucked the free kick in, going top shelf to the goalie's left. Not as easy as it seems, considering that by opening one's hips, a player tends to lose pace on the kick and make it more readable for the keeper. This was not the case with Valeri.

 

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