Football can be a fickle mistress. She can also shower you with love. But rarely do you see both of her sides in a single match. .
The Timbers rallied from a deep 3-1 pit at the half and dominated play in every sense in the second half. We will now break down the good and the bad at the individual level and see how each player did in the season opener.
Portland v New York (Player Ratings)
by Chris Hardwicke
#1 Donovan Ricketts, GK (6) – Despite giving up three goals, the Jamaican did not have a bad game. One could argue that he mishandled a tap back that Silvestre offered to him, but that mistake is on the Frenchman. In close quarters fighting, Ricketts simply didn’t have the time or space to react to the mistake, and Portland paid.
Despite this and two other goals, Ricketts did well and made two solid saves. In the week of training between now and Montreal, some effort to increase the communication between back line and keeper can do no harm.
#27 Mikael Silvestre, D (4.5) – Mikhael Silvestre should be given two ratings. One for the first half, and one for the second. Since that’s not on option, we will do our best to come up with a fair number. His high profile signing is no doubt being questioned by Portlanders over morning coffee after the former Manchester United star made two critical mistakes that led to goals.
To his credit, the veteran stayed on the pitch for the second period and had a solid, if not unremarkable half. Silvestre settled in, and played like a journeyman blue collar roofer. Tough, solid, and dependable.
#35 Andrew Jean Baptiste, D (6) – The young defender was, despite a flap versus Jamison Olave, the most consistent defender on Portland’s back four. He also had a framed shot on goal. Jean Baptiste is a promising MLS player that needs to keep his focus if he is to rise in MLS. He played a full ninety minutes of solid center back, but got caught ball watching versus Olave, and he made the defender pay.
What Jean Baptiste needs more than anything is experience. Caleb Porter has put his confidence in the young man, and expect to see him start regularly. With tallied minutes and Porter’s tutelage, this player has nowhere to go but up.
#2 Ryan Miller, D (Off 72nd) (5.5) - Miller didn’t have many notable touches in this match, but he played seventy two minutes of solid football. His aggressive style should prove beneficial to the Timbers as the season goes forward. He nearly took Roy Miller’s head off in a bellicose yet clean duel in the first five minutes.
It’s too early to say whether Miller is the favored starter in the corner, but he made a case Sunday night. Certainly not a spectacular performance, but a solid one.
#5 Michael Harrington, D (6) – Of the two wing backs, Harrington impressed more than Miller. He was consistent, sticky on his marks, and overlapped impressively into the attacking third. No moments of brilliance, however. Even so, Harrington looked much more the three dimensional player than Ryan Miller in that he played the entire field with confidence.
Harrington has nowhere to go but up. The smart money is that Caleb Porter keeps him in the starting eleven for now.
#8 Diego Valeri, M (9) – Portland has scored with this Argentinian play maker. Valeri had six shots, three on frame, and one on the net. When he wasn’t assaulting Luis Robles’s frame with foot launched artillery, he was setting other Timbers up to do the same.
Valeri was involved in almost all of the high powered offense seen in both halves. His account opening goal in the 15th minute will be a goal of the week candidate for sure. If not, a crime will have been committed.
Long story short? Valeri played an almost perfect ninety minutes. When asked how it felt to raise his first log slice, a smiling Valeri paused and said, “It felt very, very good. But there are many more matches this season and we need to work hard to make a good team.”
#21 Diego Chara, M (Off 82nd) (7.5) – The Colombian has started where he left off last season, playing the back of the midfield like a pro. Not only did he play a solid game at defensive midfield, he got a number of quick passes forward that eventually found their way to Valeri, Nagbe, or the Johnsons.
Chara committed three fouls and suffered none. It’s no doubt a welcome change for the guy who is often assaulted the whole match. Not his best performance by a long shot, but a good opening game. Porter will have him in the starting eleven all season long, barring injury.
#4 Will Johnson, M (6) – Johnson didn’t show up with a ton of touches, but when he had the ball, he took care of it. He played Caleb Porter’s possession and quickness style with finesse. And when he had the chance to take the shots, he did. Four shots and two on frame.
Will Johnson looks to be a sure starter this season. If he can improve upon his solid Sunday night performance, he’s yet another dangerous weapon at the Timbers midfield.
#9 Ryan Johnson, F (8) – Ryan Johnson didn’t get many touches in the first half, but he did manage to fire off a couple of shots on goal. His second half performance was far more impressive. Teammates found him often. Every time a passer found him, he created danger for New York.
Of his four shots, his most most memorable was a potential game winning bicycle strike late in the match. If Johnson pours it on like he did Sunday night, he’s going to be a big name in the league this season.
#11 Kalif Alhassan, F (Off 72nd) (5.5) – Of the three players starting up top, Alhassan impressed the least. While he has improved, he still has a habit of holding the ball too long and allowing the defense to box him out. He also continues to try to dribble through as many as three defenders when he has the option of laying off to a teammate.
He had a great assist to Valeri in the 15th minute, and has the distinction of assisting on the opening goal in each of the Timbers’ three MLS seasons. However, he needs to get more quality to his touches and move the ball around better. He’s a great young player, but he seems to be having trouble breaking through the ceiling above him. Once he does that, sky’s the limit.
#6 Darlington Nagbe, F (8) – Another player that was cold in the first half and red hot in the second. It almost seemed that Nagbe had lost some speed in he first as he all too often got beat to a ball that should have been his.
The second half was a much different show. His speed was back, and so was his will to win. The goal in the 56th was a great show of staying in the play as Valeri’s shot was blocked in the front of goal. Caleb Porter was tight lipped about what exactly was said to motivate Nagbe at halftime, but he did say this:
“Sometimes Darlington needs a kick in the ass, but in a good way”.
If ever a quote needed a smiley emoticon, it’s this.
#7 Sal Zizzo, M – (On 72nd) (6.5) Ryan Miller was gassed by the 72nd minute, and Zizzo stepped in to provide fresh legs. He got involved in a little offense, but he was not on the pitch long enough to make a major contribution.
#20 Jose Adolfo Valencia, F – (On 72nd) (7) Trencito is going to be the third up top attack for the Timbers attack. Alhassan may have started Sunday, but this is going to change. Valencia only played just over 20 minutes, but his efforts equalized the match. With a powerful frame, aggressive style of play, and a brilliant mind, Valencia has every opportunity to rise to the top ranks on this team.
His cross that led to the own goal was fantastic and very lucky. It’s late in the game, lets put the ball in front of the goal and maybe something great will happen.
#22 Rodney Wallace, M – (On 82nd) (6) Wallace played only about twelve minutes, but managed to get involved a little. He didn’t play enough to give him a fair rating, but he looked good. Wallace certainly looks better in the attack than he does on defense, and this helped his case on Sunday night as he spent little time on his heels.