Portland Timbers v Seattle Sounders – Preview

Floundering Form – A Look at Seattle

One thing I picked up on in the Portland/LA dissection, was that our full-backs (and team in general), gave the ball away far too freely. Well, Seattle have been in a similar, if not worse, boat. Against Kansas, they lost the ball in possession a whopping 160 times. In every other area, statistically and physically, this game was a bore draw. They matched each other in passing accuracy, shooting rate and overall possession.

In Seattle’s 1-1 draw against Chivas, they only successfully completed around half the amount of passes as Chivas (288 to 479). They were also only able to maintain 38.6% of the possession. How did they secure the point? Well, this can attributed to the fact that they made more tackles than Chivas and a whopping 26 interceptions. In other words, Seattle can work out a point by sitting back and soaking up pressure. Even with 61.4% of the possession, Chivas only managed 2 attempts on target.

They were undone by Montreal, losing 4-1 in the end. But the statistics show a closer game. The possession was split 54% in favour of Montreal, who had a higher pass success rate of 78.9% to Seattle’s 73.5%. They both, however, had 12 shots at goal, with 5 hitting the target. Yet Montreal won by 3 goals. It’s important that like Montreal, Portland take their chances. The only striking difference between Seattle’s 3 opponents was that Montreal had a higher dribble success rate, and a higher total of attempted dribbles. They completed 10 of 27 attempted dribbles, but is running at their defence the key to beating Seattle? Rather than hitting them in the air? Full-Backs Burch and Scott played both the Montreal and Sporting Kansas City games, with almost identical statistics. They both gave the ball away just as much as the derided Mike Chabala did against LA.

Will the worm turn? – Timbers in comparison

Could Alhassan, Zisso or Songo’o be the key to getting round the back? Unfortunately, the form statistics say… not quite. Against LA, the Timbers had a better pass success rate (78% to 72%), they lost the ball less than LA, had a better on-target shooting rate, created 8 more open play crosses (17 in total) and held more of the possession at 54%. However, we completed 1 successful dribble out of 10. Taking ourselves away from statistics, our wingers didn’t take on their opponent enough.

Seattle don’t like having the ball. We saw that against Chivas, where they were able to pick up a point with 38.6% of possession. The problem was, Chivas attempted 31 crosses, 23 of them unsuccessful. Of those 23, 3 of them went out of play. In total, Seattle made 28 clearances. If we play like we did against LA, we will need to show some discipline. Seattle are likely to sit back at Jeld-Wen and take what we throw at them. Boyd has some ability in the air, but is better at feeding off scraps in and around the box. If our wide-men can keep the ball on the ground and use the pace of Mwanga and the guile of Boyd – I don’t see why we can’t scrape out a goal.

On paper, we make more successful passes than Seattle; at a rate of 73.4% in comparison to the Flounders 71.5%. We create more crosses from open play and we are more dominant in possession. Unfortunately, that might just suit Seattle. It’s important that we get at players like Brad Evans, and our “bunch of drunk, mid-30s type of crowd who are very well-educated” get noisy, get loud, and get behind the team. As if we’d do anything else. And anyway, if little Brad Evans thinks it’s “a little bit more crazy” and “[it’s]a little nastier playing down there”, we wouldn’t want to disappoint?

Important Match-ups

Diego Chara v. Osvaldo Alonso
Chara was our shining light against LA, and he has to be the lynchpin to our defensive efforts tomorrow. Without Mosquera at the back and the potential return of Steve Smith, we’re going to have yet another different back four lining up at Jeld-Wen. Chara needs to continue with his no nonesense protection. Portland need to be paitent on the ball, and they need Chara to keep his head. Alonso’s coming off the back of a “meh” game against Kansas, as well as a poor run of form for his standards. The Timbers like to keep the ball, Seattle like to sit. I’m not sure a meeting of these two men will incite the game to erupt, but I think whichever one stamps their authority on the game first, will be the man leading their team to victory.


vs

Steven Smith v. Mauro Rosales/Brad Evans
It’s likely that Steven Smith will come in at left back for Mike Chabala in this Cascadia Cup Derby match. The newlywed Scot will be up against either Mauro Rosales or little Brad Evans. He’ll be hoping it’s the latter, as he had little to no contribution in their last game against Kansas. 3 attempted crosses, 14 of 22 passes were successful and he was tackled in possession 8 times. Quite why he’s decided to speak out about the Timber Army after a less than impressive performance remains to be seen. Rosales didn’t fare much better against Montreal or Chivas, where he was effectively snubbed out. He did, however, manage to create a lot more crossing opportunities. Rosales played down the middle against Kansas, and again looked a lot more eager to get involved.

Kris Boyd v. John Kennedy Hurtado
Boyd is desperate for a goal, and Hurtado is back from suspension. Known for being decent in the air, tidy with possession, and relatively good at reading the play, Hurtado tends to defend quite highly. So maybe Spencer will play Mwanga (or Nagbe depending on injuries) off Hurtado’s shoulder, trying to get some space round the back and pull him out of position. Either way, Boyd needs to add to his 4 goals this season before the fans start to question is DP status. What better place than at Jeld-Wen, against the Flounders? You can see it now. The rain hurtling down, Hurtado on his arse, Boyd peeling away from the back post, arms aloft, Glaswegian grin plastered to his face.

Futty Danso v. Fredy Montero
It’s an important game for Futty. He knows what’s expected, he knows what he has to do. Win. It’s going to be difficult to contain the firecracker that is Montero. Seattle do have Fernandez out on the left, and if we can contain Evans, Alonso and Rosales as other teams recently have, then I believe Futty and Horst have the ability between them to deal with Fredy. If they play the ball from the back like Mosquera and Horst did against LA, I don’t see why we can’t. We do have to improve vastly at defending set pieces, though the return of Smith and the (hopeful) wakeup call to Perkins will adjust that.

…who’s going to win?
Portland, of course. I’m going to say that. I actually think we will though. I think it’s difficult for any team at the Jeld-Wen, never mind Seattle. We have a slightly better run of form, Seattle without a win in 7. But the game against LA was a huge disappointment. Have the Timbers got enough fire in the pit of their bellies to bounce back from recent form, or will Seattle hit us on the break? After all the stats I’ve trawled through, I can safely say…. I’ve got no fucking clue. Let’s just get drunk and enjoy it.

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2 responses to “Portland Timbers v Seattle Sounders – Preview

  1. Pingback: Cascadia Match Day: Portland Timbers vs. Seattle Sounders (24-June-2012)·

  2. Pingback: Portland Timbers 2 – 1 Seattle Sounders | #RCTID·

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