Portland has specialized recently in wins where one or two players rise out of the pack and deliver success. It has not always been the same player. Kali Alhassan, Max Urruti for example have provided key game winning goals in recent weeks.
In Seattle, it was perhaps more of an all round good team display. Kyle Alm looked at the individual performances.
Portland Timbers (at Seattle) Player Ratings
GK Donovan Ricketts 6.5 – Made a huge save against Clint Dempsey on a set piece in the 19th minute, wasn’t overly troubled other than that, until the end of the match when Dempsey’s header went over the bar and Alonso scored the equalizer. Otherwise, his splendid centre halves stood like a veritable great wall in front of him.
Michael Harrington 6.5 - Harrington at his left back berth didn’t really need to get into the attack, and didn’t really have much to do against Sounders diamond midfield. He defended ably but was not as involved in the attack as his counterpart on the right.
Perhaps Jack Jewsbury’s recent excellent advances forward in regular season have reduced Harrington to the full back who stays back.Sounders lack of width made his evening easier than he might have expected. He should be studying videos of Mauro Rosales before Thursday as they surely will not hold him back for the first hour again.
Jack Jewsbury 8.5 – Captain Jack keeps finding ways to be on the pitch for Portland and showed his quality at right-back. Even though he was superb in the role against LA Galaxy, I still didn’t expect Jewsbury to get up the flank so often and beat Sounders, but he did.
He was of course the engine that created the opening goal. It was a short cross, but it was still on the button for Ryan Johnson to finish. His stout defending and his leadership round up the contributing factors to his high mark.
Pa Madou Kah 8.5 - This was the better part of the defensive partnership, Danso definitely gave high praise for his teammate post-match and every word of it was deserved. Kah has really settled into the position now and appears as solid as his wall themed nickname. One could argue that Sounders’ inept game plan played into the strengths of Kah and Danso, but you cannot mark the Gambians down for Sounders’ tactical stupidity.
Mamadou Danso 7.5 - He conceded the free kick that required heroics from Ricketts, but didn’t give up a foul in a dangerous area again. He was near enough to Shalrie Joseph to lose half a point for the flick on to Alonso. No one expected Shalrie Joseph to make an impact on the match, and neither did the Great Wall of Gambia. Other than that they stood tall and continue to work together well as a pairing.
Diego Valeri 6.5 – (off in 61′) He didn’t make much of an impact on the match. Sounders may have schemed defensively to lessen his impact, and if so they were successful. However that committed sufficient resources to allow the likes of Darlington Nagbe to flourish. He won’t mind not being the star man if his side keep winning.
Will Johnson 6.5 – This was not a great match from Will Johnson. He sent a couple of shots into the crowd after they booed him loudly on his announcement. He won’t care too deeply as those who administer the elbows and the insults are missing more games than he is.
He could have been credited with an assist on Nagbe’s goal, but it wouldn’t have changed his rating. Johnson was marking Dempsey when his last header went over the bar, but that is not a match-up he should be expected to win. At the moment, Will Johnson is winning every other battle he fights. No wonder he is always smiling.
Diego Chara 8.0 - Chara was disruptive to Seattle’s diamond midfield and got an assist to the Jewsbury-Ryan Johnson goal. The diminutive braided one was a big part of the Timbers game plan and limiting the Sounders’ engine room.
Chara does a lot of the defensive dirty work and added to the offense. Coach Porter can’t ask much more than that. What’s more, in the light of Sigi Schmid’s recent pleas that Chara should be booked more for persistent fouling, Chara only committed two of Portland’s rather large total of 21.
Darlington Nagbe 8.5 - (off in 73′) He started the play that led to his remarkable goal. Sounders may have done better with cones than defensive players when you see how much space was given to Will Johnson, Khalif Alhassan, and eventually to Nagbe when he scored.
Before then, he stood toe to toe with the far more physical Alonso and did not back down an inch. He suffered five of Seattle’s 13 fouls and kept going. Sounders will have to find another way of reducing his effectiveness by Thursday. The mark would be higher had he played the full 90.
Rodney Wallace 6.5 - The left winger didn’t really make much of an impact on the match, committed five fouls and was caught offside once.
That said, as chief disruptor he took the yellow card heat off players like Chara and Will Johnson who may be more vital than Wallace deeper into the play-offs.
Ryan Johnson 8.0 – (off in 83′) Ryan Johnson won the nod over Valencia for center forward and justified Porter’s decision with an opening goal.
His opening goal was improbable and never should have happened, but there it is. His direct opponents made more errors in fewer tests than his colleagues.
He was first past the post and redirecting a header from the position takes some skill, degree of difficulty was worth half a point. Johnson did his work early and didn’t find a better opportunity than the one he scored in the 15th minute. Nonetheless his goal ended a torrid opening period for Portland in which they were clearly the weaker team.
Khalif Alhassan 7.0 - (on in 61′) Came on for Valeri and got an assist, Alhassan continues to be a difference maker for Portland when he steps on the pitch as a starter or a substitute. He made another good through ball pass to Ryan Johnson that was eventually snuffed out. Alhassan is repeatedly the name offered up as proof that the Timbers have a deeper squad than their rivals. Seems terribly unfair on Alex Caskey.
Ben Zemanksi 5.5 - (on in 73′) He came in for Nagbe in the 73rd as a defensive minded sub to protect the lead and rest players for Thursday. Zemanksi was also given a yellow card in his limited minutes. Guess who was marking the ghost Shalrie Joseph when his header went to Alonso?
Shalrie Joseph is tall, Zemanski didn’t even come close to winning the ball. On reflection, he was possibly the wrong man to introduce against a side reduced to an aerial bombardment but he did assist in breaking up play in that crowded midfield.
Jose Adolfo Valencia 5.0 – (on in 83′) He came on for Ryan Johnson in the 83rd minute and committed a foul right before Brad Evans and Shalrie Joseph assisted on Alonso’s goal in stoppage time. He made little impact as Portland had little ball in his time.