“Vancouver showed tonight why they were the best defensive team in the league.”
Those were the words of Portland Timbers head coach Caleb Porter after Sunday’s scoreless draw at Providence Park. Coming into the game, Porter’s Timbers had scored 10 goals in their last three matches. They were the hottest team in the league.
The ‘Caps shut them out.
Sure, they got the help of the goalpost, but as Carl Robinson said after the match: “The back six of the team were fantastic.”
Let’s take a closer look, starting with Budweiser Man of the Match David Ousted.
The Danish goalkeeper made six saves on the night, including a spectacular diving stop on a Diego Valeri free kick. Former MLS head coach Thomas Rongen called it a “world-class save.”
Kendall Waston thinks so, too.
“I think he’s the best goalkeeper in MLS,” Waston told reporters after the match.
And Waston may just be the best defender.
After the match, Porter called him a “beast.” TSN named him their man of the match. Clearly, it was an impressive showing from the big man. Not only did he make life difficult for Timbers striker Fanendo Adi, he also came up with a pair of game-saving blocks/clearances. See below.
As explained by MLSsoccer.com analyst Matt Doyle, the ‘Caps kept a “low block” on Sunday, which invited some pressure but also played into the strengths of Waston and his centre back partner Tim Parker, who cleared pretty much everything out of the box. See below.
Tackles = green, blocks = yellow, interceptions = blue, clearances = purple, recoveries = orange.
Waston and Ousted made a big impact on Sunday – and so did midfielder destroyer Matias Laba.
The Argentine had a team-high 12 recoveries (when a player wins a loose ball back), as well as four tackles. See a sample of them below.
The second tackle you see is remarkable, when you think about it. Laba is in a clear one-v-two situation against Portland's two most dangerous players (Darlington Nagbe and Diego Valeri), and he ends up with the ball. That's not supposed to happen.
DON'T FORGET ABOUT
- Fullbacks Steven Beitashour and Jordan Harvey, who combined for 11 interceptions and seven tackles between them.
- Midfielder Russell Teibert, whose defensive statline included five recoveries, three clearances, three interceptions, and two tackles.
At the end of the day, the ‘Caps gave themselves a chance to win heading into Sunday’s decisive second leg at BC Place (7 p.m. PT - tickets still available). And with a record crowd expected to #BringItHome, that’s not a bad position to be in.
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