The Portland Timbers’ latest loss came against FC Dallas in a wet Saturday night in Frisco. Portland’s newest method of losing has come in the form of conceding a terrible goal and a questionable penalty before remembering not only one team is allowed to score.
That being said, Jeremy Ebobisse was definitely shoved from behind in the box. Sebastián Blanco and Bill Tuiloma’s claims were definitely worth consideration if FC Dallas’ was. But this handball in the box is so obviously a penalty that no one is sure how it slipped through the cracks of VAR:
— Portland Timbers (@TimbersFC) April 14, 2019
Although the team pushed hard for an equalizing goal, shouts for penalties—albeit legitimate—are not enough to win a game. Portland had 60-plus minutes of lackluster play before finding their groove. The urgency we saw in the second half needs to be the standard from the opening kickoff.
So without further complaint, here’s my week 7 player grades:
1. Jeff Attinella (GK): B
Jeff had four saves in this match, most notably in the 27th and 44th minutes. Although he can’t do much about the back line being absolutely terrible, Jeff needs to improve his distribution: of his 19 long balls on Saturday, only five were accurate. Jeff continues to be one of the most consistent players for the Timbers this year, but that isn’t saying much.
16. Zarek Valentin (LWB): C
Valentin had a good defensive performance, covering runners and winning the ball on all six of his tackles. While he still has a long way to go offensively, Valentin has found his niche along the left wing in the attack.
18. Julio Cascante (LCB): C-
In my preview I mentioned that I thought Claude Dielna would still be preferred over Julio Cascante, even though both players have been underwhelming so far this year. Cascante always seems to fade out of the match as much as possible, usually only being involved in mistakes or clearances. While his performance didn’t contain any of the former, I’m still not convinced that he is the best man for the job on this back line.
25. Bill Tuiloma (CB): C
Tuiloma has been thrust into a starting position fairly quickly, but he has shown that he can be a solid center back in Major League Soccer, which is more than almost anyone else on the team can say. Yes, he was partly to blame on the first goal, but no one saw the deflection off of Diego Chará coming. Tuiloma will probably continue to start in the sweeper role as part of a five-man back line going forward.
33. Larrys Mabiala (RCB): C-
Mabiala continues to struggle at center back, but the egregious errors that plagued the Timbers’ defense earlier this year seem to be behind them. Mabiala did have a poor giveaway in his own half that led to a chance, but it was an otherwise decent showing.
2. Jorge Moreira (RWB): C+
Moreira has given the Timbers a bit more attacking gusto than the Villafaña-and-Valentin duo did from right back, and has also been a hardworking defender. Moreira continues to rack up tackles, adding five more on Saturday. Although he gave up the penalty, there was minimal contact and Aránguiz clearly dragged his foot to sell it. Moreira does need to improve his crosses, as do the rest of the squad. Only one of Moreira’s 12 crosses was accurate, and the Timbers as a whole were 4-for-26 on crosses.
22. Cristhian Paredes (LCM): B+
Paredes scored the lone goal for the Timbers, and he showed a lot of attacking purpose throughout the match. Paredes did what was asked of him when the time came to be urgent, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him starting in the same position again next week.
21. Diego Chará (CM): B
It was a “Classic Chará” match for the shorter Diego, who only took six minutes into the second half to earn his inevitable yellow card. As usual, Chará dictated the midfield for Portland, controlling the majority of possession and distributing with 91% accuracy on offense, while running down defenders and making key tackles as well.
14. Andres Flores (RCM): C
Flores put in another average performance from his central-midfield position for the Timbers. This team will only get results, though, if more than a few players make the jump to being catalysts. Flores is one of many Timbers being reactive to the game instead of proactively changing it.
10. Sebastián Blanco (LF): A-
Blanco is one of the few much-needed creators for the Timbers. He clearly worked hard all game, and his relentless offensive effort was very nearly rewarded. Blanco’s technical skill and staunch attitude have combined to make him a serious threat for opposing defenses, and his performance on Saturday was inspiring, especially considering his dedication to the club.
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I trust this group, no matter what happens. I do not pay attention to the comments, the good ones and the bad ones, because they’re all just in the moment. While right now it is not the best moment, we all know it. Some things may annoy us, some things are very unfair and some things are just out of our control. We know that we can only control the controllables,but I have bad news… we will keep fighting, AGAINST ALL AND AGAINST EVERYTHING PUT IN FRONT OF US. You’d better get on the train now because later, it may just be too late… #ifweplayinthesnoweveryoneshouldplayinthesnow #rctid #timbers 💪🏻💚⚽️
17. Jeremy Ebobisse (RF): B-
Ebobisse very well could have scored another goal for the Timbers if not for Ryan Hollingshead pushing him in the back. Jebo is still the team’s leading goalscorer on the season, but that total only amounts to 2. The 22-year-old is still developing, but the Timbers desperately need more attacking production, and Jebo needs more touches in the process.
Timbers have a gripe IMO. Should've been a penalty earlier when Hollingshead pushed Ebobisse in the back, and should've been one in stoppage when Hollingshead went full Karch Kiraly. Deserved a point. #DALvPOR
— Matthew Doyle (@MattDoyle76) April 14, 2019
27. Dairon Asprilla (RW): D
Asprilla came on in the 70th minute as part of a double swap of himself and Diego Valeri for Julio Cascante and Cristhian Paredes. Asprilla blew the few half-chances that he saw, and was wholly ineffective, making all of 2 passes while on the pitch.
8. Diego Valeri (CAM): C+
Valeri provided a spark off the bench in a new role for the Timbers. Valeri reportedly picked up a small heel injury in training, and the substitution proved effective. The super-sub role gave Valeri a chance to attack without getting exhausted, and it may make sense to see this move even if Valeri is 100%.
19. Tomás Conechny (CAM): B+
Conechny came on in the 87th minute and wasted no time working to push the ball forward as much as possible. His movement and combination play in the final third was good enough to draw attention, and his consistent improvement should give him even more minutes as a substitute.
At the end of the day, the Timbers have to start earning points. Although the loss at Dallas could (and probably should) have been a draw, and the same mistakes in the back are still plaguing Portland, the fire was there. Dallas was on their heels once the penalty was scored, which is a better response than we’re used to seeing from the 2019 Timbers. A few calls go the other way and we may be talking about the first win of the season. Regardless, this level of effort was an improvement that should be continued next week.