Game 19: Columbus 1 Portland 0By: Bob Kellett | July 27th, 2011
The Lowdown: Eddie Gaven scissored a shot off of Futty’s chest and into the goal in the 79th minute to lift the Columbus Crew to a 1-0 victory over the Portland Timbers in front of 11,246 at Crew Stadium. The victory lifts the Crew into second place in the Eastern Conference. The loss is Portland’s sixth in nine games away from Jeld-Wen Field. It is the Timbers’ fourth loss and five games, and it leaves them in eighth place in the Western Conference.
Odds and Ends
- John Spencer went with a 4-5-1 formation for the third straight game. This approach has included using essentially three defensive midfielders in the middle: Jack Jewsbury, Diego Chara, and James Marcelin. While this has helped prevent some of the defensive problems the Timbers were having in the middle of the pitch prior to the formation change, it has done little to generate much in the way of offense. The entire offensive buildup relies on the outside wings and/or desperation passes over the top to a usually offside Jorge Perlaza. Instead of killing the offense, how about getting some guys in the back line who can defend? Maybe next year.
- Speaking of which, I though Lovel Palmer acquitted himself well in his first start in green and white. You have to remember that the dude has been playing defensive mid for Houston for the past couple of years. It isn’t easy switching positions mid-season, even if he is reportedly a right back by nature. I thought he showed decent on the ball marking skills as well as an ability to push forward. I didn’t miss Jeremy Hall and neither did the Timbers.
- It was nice to see Darlington Nagbe come to life a bit. He is so smooth with the ball but so hesitant to move forward. Instead of waiting to draw contact from behind, I’d like to see him attack forward more. He showed more inclination to attack against the Crew then he has all year. Plus, his save (of sorts) off the line (of sorts) was a great reaction play that managed to full the refs.
- I am not a Kenny Cooper hater, but the guy is about as cut out to play the lone 1 in a 4-5-1 as you and I are. Talk about square peg in a round hole syndrome. I like John Spencer and have largely liked the moves he has made this season, but he must be able to see that Cooper can only thrive in a system in which he gets the ball with room to attack with the ball at his feet. He isn’t a target forward and he isn’t Jorge Perlaza-quick. Why pretend otherwise?
- It would be interesting to see Sal Zizzo and Darlington Nagbe on the pitch at the same time. I know that neither plays much defense, but I can’t help but think that they might stretch out the other team if paired together. At this point, why not give it a try? It wouldn’t be the end of the world to give Alhassan a night off.
- The Crew certainly haven’t looked like world beaters in their two games against the Timbers, but you can’t argue with their results. They win at home and don’t concede many goals. They don’t play a style that is going to add many new butts to those bright yellow seats at Crew Stadium, but they will be competitive come playoff time.
Final Thought: After a victory last week in Chicago and a midweek trade that should bolster the lineup, it is hard not to be disappointed with the outcome of this one. What is perhaps more disappointing than the result was the quality of the performance. It was a “meh” effort from most of the lads and from the coaching staff. Inserting Cooper into the lineup at halftime was an indication to me that they were playing for a point. As has been the case for most of this season, late game breakdowns cost the Timbers.
Onward Rose City…