Monday, March 7, 2016

Crew-Timbers Five Thoughts

1. I thought this was a really fun game to kick off ESPN's Sunday slate for the 2016 season. It had a little bit of everything. Lots of attacking (39 shots between the two teams), pretty goals (Federico Higuaín's overhead kick may end up being the Goal of the Year), talented young USMNT contributors (Tchani, Nagbe, Trapp, Finlay), and solid performances (Diego Chara and Diego Valeri come to mind). If this is the level of play we're going to see in MLS all season long, I think we're in for a real treat.

2. Dairon Asprilla had SO MANY chances that he failed to take advantage of in this game. I always find these kind of situations frustrating because on the one hand, he must be doing something right to get so many chances, but on the other hand, ARRRGH. Asprilla had just one goal and two assists last year in his debut season with Portland, but if yesterday was any indication, he could put up some gaudy numbers in 2016. You know, IF he can start converting some of those opportunities.

3. Jermaine Taylor wasn't spectacular for Portland, but he was good enough to limit references to the departure of Jorge Villafaña. The Crew were limited to a spectacular goal by Higuaín, but otherwise the Portland defense, despite surrendering over 60% of possession, was up to the task. The one "concern" is that Taylor has never made more than 26 starts in a season, compared to Villafaña who started all but one game a year ago. So keeping that in mind, the Timbers will have to find someone else who can hold down left back for at least a portion of the season.

4. I thought Diego Valeri was terrific and you could really see what a difference he makes when he's healthy. I would expect to see him deliver numbers on par with his performance in 2013 and 2014 (combined 21 goals, 27 assists). What's really impressive to me is what Valeri's talent says about the level of skill in Argentina. Here's Diego Valeri, a 29 year old in the prime of his career putting up double-doubles in MLS, and yet he's managed a measly 3 CAPs in his international career. CRAZY.

5. Anyone else get nervous when Will Trapp went down holding his knee after that collision with teammate Gastón Sauro in the first half? Trapp missed several months of 2015 with a concussion, and he's an obvious difference maker for the Crew when he's on the field. Not to mention his contributions to the U.S. U-23s who have a huge series with Colombia coming up. So definitely glad to see he turned out to be all right.

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