Week 1: Wrapping Up Timbers-Red Bulls

Wrapping up the Red Bulls' draw with the Portland Timbers.

March 3, 2012: Timbers 3, Red Bulls 3

You can call it an instant classic, as MLSsoccer.com seems to imply, but if you're going to call it anything, "a bit of a mess" seems more apt.

Yes, history repeated itself in a wild (but relatively controversy-free) game between the Portland Timbers and the Red Bulls, but it wasn't a comeback that made it so. It was defensive lapses and a lack of conditioning that did.

It seemed both teams were trying to figure themselves out as much as they were their opponent.

Take Fabian Espindola's first goal: Mikael Silvestre plays a back pass to goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts, who mishandles the ball, leaving it for Espindola to knock home. Some are laying the blame at Silvestre's feet (har har). But really, Ricketts could've simply picked the ball up.

All in all, it's not an awful result. But there was more bad than good -- seriously, look at the position stats -- but the good will come with time.

Positives

  • A point from a road game in one of the league's toughest places to play. Seriously, the Timbers are 12-8-6 all-time in MLS play. And they've never lost a home opener.
  • Espindola had a nice start to his Red Bulls career, netting two goals. Even if they were both from Silvestre screw-ups.
  • Juninho played 90 minutes and showed the playmaking ability we were all hoping he would bring. Of course, a lot of his passes ended up going nowhere, but that's something he'll work out when he gets a hold of the league.
  • It was nice to use some subs for once...

Negatives

  • The entire second half.
  • Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill were generally invisible.
  • The midfield looked weak. And most of the second half was the Red Bulls clearing, Portland recovering the ball in the midfield, and pushing it back into the attacking third.
  • The Red Bulls employ two former MLS defenders as coaches, yet the defense still looks shaky.
  • By my count, in his last three games against the Red Bulls, Ricketts has given up 11 goals. Unfortunately, barring a trade, the Red Bulls won't face him again this year.

Notable Quotes

Henry:

"We didn't prepare it the way - not our fault, obviously - the way you should prepare a game. But that's the way the league is, and you have to come here and perform. We did match Portland for an hour; but then in the last 30 minutes they took over, and we ran out of steam. They took control of the game and scored two.

...

"What is frustrating is the way we came here. We didn't prepare anything because we were at the airport on Friday, on Saturday, too, trying to come here. We did eventually; but we didn't prepare the game how we should've prepared the game. And you could see the last 30 minutes: Everyone ran out of steam."

Head Coach Mike Petke:

"I just think that we possibly came out with the mindset that we should save the lead instead of keep doing what we were doing in the first half," Petke said. "That falls on the coaching staff first and foremost. Maybe we should have made it clearer.

"At the end of the day they battled, and there are guys in that locker room that are crushed right now. To see that type of attitude and that sort of letdown after scoring three goals on the road and getting a point on the road, which in MLS is very difficult to do, it's great to see them pissed off."

Relevant Statistics

Timbers Statistic Red Bulls
18 Shots 7
7 Corners 3
8 Fouls 17
25 Crosses 7
84% Passing Accuracy 73%
62.8% Possession 37.2%

Source

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