Player Grades from Portland’s Loss in San Jose
The Portland Timbers are officially the worst team in Major League Soccer. Their trip to San Jose was bad from start to finish, providing maybe the lowest point in Timbers’ MLS history. This match could have been a major turning point for the squad, but once again, we were left with many more questions than answers.
1. Jeff Attinella (GK): B-
Yes, the Timbers gave up three goals in the first half. Yes, those are partly the goalkeeper’s fault. Yes, the second goal definitely could have been stifled by an earlier save. But without a few important saves from Jeff in the second half, the score could have been much worse. At the end of the day, Jeff had 10 saves, but he would have had to stand on his head to keep the Timbers in this match. And while that can’t necessarily be expected, someone has to step up and make plays.
2. Jorge Moreira (RB): D
Moreira didn’t have as good of a showing as last week, and his shortcomings were common among all the field players: a lack of motivation and effort. The good news is that those are both things that can be corrected. The bad news is that can be very hard to do when there hasn’t been a desirable result for this team all year. Moreira can be that spark for a new attack, but he needs to be aware of his defensive duties, too.
33. Larrys Mabiala (RCB): D-
Mabiala and Tuiloma were rarely on the same page defensively, and were inches from conceding a fourth goal via Mabiala’s poor marking. Mabiala is looking less and less like a starting-caliber center back, much less the dominant one for the Timbers, and his performance next weekend will be tantamount to the team’s success against FC Dallas.
25. Bill Tuiloma (LCB): D+
Tuiloma was decent as the sweeper in last week’s five-defender formation versus the Los Angeles Galaxy, but his lack of awareness and failure to control his defensive space stood out against San Jose. This was clear during the first goal, where he was left guessing by the time Cristian Espinoza could get a cross away. Tuiloma did show that he can be a catalyst, dribbling into the midfield and getting fouled from behind a number of times.
4. Jorge Villafaña (LB): F
I expected Zarek Valentin to start over Villafaña in a left back position, but I didn’t expect the difference to matter this much. Historically, Villafaña’s most effective attribute for the Timbers has been his combinations and crossing through overlaps on the left wing. That threat has disintegrated into a liability for the Timbers’ attack. Villafaña recorded five crosses on Saturday, with only one of them being accurate.
21. Diego Chará (DM): C+
Saturday’s performance featured the Diego Chará Timbers fans are used to seeing, but “good enough” still isn’t good enough when the rest of the squad isn’t playing up to par. Chará completed 61 passes at 89% accuracy, and had a crucial tackle in the defensive third. Overall, the shorter Diego continues to be the core of the squad, as well as its most consistent player.
20. David Guzmán (DM): D
Guzmán left large gaps in the midfield, winning only two of his 10 duels and getting dribbled past three times. His replacement, Anders Flores, was more effective both offensively and defensively, and Guzmán continues to be another inconsistent piece of Portland’s midfield.
27. Dairon Asprilla (RW): F
Asprilla was subbed off for youngster Tomás Conechny at halftime, and for good reason. Asprilla was completely ineffective in creating any sort of attacking chances, completing eight passes and one successful dribble. The fact that Conechny did a better job than him should be indicative of how they are played in the future.
8. Diego Valeri (CAM): F
Valeri continued to stutter, and did so in spectacularly poor fashion this week. Losing possession six times was bad enough, but it was the awful giveaway that lead to the second goal and the egregious penalty miss that could have given Portland a glimmer of hope in the 56th minute. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to see the former MVP on the bench next match. Valeri’s current form may be his worst since coming to Portland in 2013. When was the last time he made multiple game-changing errors in the same match?
VEGA DENIES VALERI! VEGA DENIES VALERI!
— San Jose Earthquakes (@SJEarthquakes) April 7, 2019
10. Sebastián Blanco (LW): D
Blanco had his worst match of the season so far. He completed 63% of his passes and won only three of his 14 attempted duels, but his effort in the second half was better than most. Blanco’s laser set up Valeri’s penalty miss, and his chance-taking earned him an uncomfortable collision in the 78th minute. He appeared to be fine, though, and returned to the match shortly.
17. Jeremy Ebobisse (FW): D
Jebo had a rough match, although the fault cannot be exclusive to him. The midfield had a rough time creating any sort of attacking momentum, and Ebobisse’s only two shots were off target. Make no mistake, Ebobisse should still be preferred over Lucas Melano up top, but signing a Designated Player striker should not be out of the question, either.
19. Tomás Conechny (FW): C+
Conechny became an important part of the Timbers’ attack, and was often a positive contributor in the second half. This was our first look at Conechny for an extended spell of first-team minutes, and he while his technicalities need some work, the raw talent is there.
28. Foster Langsdorf (FW): C-
Langsdorf has been doing well in the USL for T2 (15 goals in 38 matches), and his MLS debut was a good sign to many. Langsdorf came on in the 66th minute for Ebobisse, a move that we may see more of in the future. While he didn’t make much of an impact on the field, the fact that he is getting first-team minutes is a step in the right direction for his development.
14. Andres Flores (DM): C-
Flores replaced David Guzmán in the 73rd minute when the match was already out of reach, and he didn’t do much to change the flow or outcome of the match in any way.
Portland now needs some sort of clear change to motivate the team. Whether it’s a return to the 4-3-2-1 Christmas tree, a new signing at a key position, or something else, it needs to come soon before they drop too many points. Next week’s matchup against FC Dallas could be another chance at changing the momentum of the season, but it could also be a bigger embarrassment than the Saturday’s match if the Timbers put out a similar performance.