Aside: Networking in New England

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This represents the successful passes between players, with the thicker the line, the more passes. x and o represens shots at goal (x for off target/blocked by defender, o for on target) with the lighter colors being Portland’s shots. By pairing this data with the average position during the match, taken from MLS heatmaps, you can start to get a sense of the flow of the team’s play. Here you can see how the introduction of Nagbe dramatically changed the shape of Portland’s place, with comparatively little going down the right side in the second half.

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Aside: Shot Difference

The Timbers attack underperformed compared to last year, though in cumulative terms the difference hasn't been great. The big change was in shot accuracy which finally hit 2013 levels by around game 15 as the attack finally found their rhythm together. If the Timbers can keep their accuracy ~37-38% and keep creating as many shooting opportunities as they have done, then there's every reason for defences to really fear facing this team in the run-in.

The Timbers attack underperformed slightly compared to last year for much of the start of the year, though in cumulative terms the difference hasn’t been great. The big change was in shot accuracy which finally hit 2013 levels by around game 15 as the attack finally found their rhythm together. If the Timbers can keep their accuracy around 37-38% and keep creating as many shooting opportunities as they have done, then there’s every reason for defences to really fear facing this team in the run-in.

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Aside: The Goal I’ve Been Waiting To See

I love a golazo as much as the next fan, and there has been no shortage of good goals this year from Timbers players. Valeri’s winner against Colorado is a good case in point – one that fits very nicely into highlight packages and gifs. But for me, the goal that had me punching the air that little big harder was the first goal, and not just because it dragged Portland level in a vital game that was at one point in danger of just drifting away from them, but because that was the goal I’ve been waiting to see all season. A glorious display of passing, movement and intelligent play – this team still has it in them! And it’s this that will drag Portland to the playoffs and beyond. Continue reading

SRP Exclusive: Portland’s New Hero

With the 2014 MLS season failing thus far to live up to expectations, the Portland Timbers fans have waited for baited breath for the front office to make decisive moves to turn their fortunes around. This week sees one such move come to fruition, as the Timbers big money new signing finally takes the field, seeking to help put Portland back on the playoffs track. Continue reading

Aside: Making the Playoffs

Lot of talk about Portland’s potential playoff chances lately. After 18 games the Timbers sit on 21 points, four points off Vancouver in 5th, but 2 games worse off than North Seattle FC. Sorting the table by Points per Game doesn’t improve matters, in fact dropping Portland from 7th to 8th in the table. In order to reach the playoffs this year, it would seem that Portland would need to hit 50 points to be sure (the average to reach 5th in the West is a shade under 50) which would mean racking up 29 points or so in the remaining 14 games. So, just how realistic is that goal? Continue reading