2012 got off to a slow start for Sal Zizzo as worked his was back from the ACL tear that brought his 2011 season to an unfortunate end. His first appearance last season wasn't until the May 15th match against the Houston Dynamo, the same team the Timbers were playing seven months earlier when Zizzo sustained the injury.
Although it might have been Labor Day Weekend around America, MLS teams were putting in plenty of
hard work to secure Playoff Spots heading into the post season. Let's take a look back and enjoy
the action across the league as the post season contenders and post season pretenders are becoming
clearer each game.
Late in the Portland Timbers' match at Toronto FC, Darlington Nagbe, playing on the right wing
in place of subbed-out Sal Zizzo, saw the chance to do something he hadn't done in five months. He
snuck in behind the Toronto defense and got himself on the end of a perfectly chipped cross from
The Portland Timbers put cross after cross into the box in the first half but no Timber was able
to get on the end of them. Then in the 45th minute Portland finally got on the end a cross as
Bright Dike put the ball in the back of the net. In the second half Portland fell back into bad
habits and sat back more than they should have but they were still able to see the game out for the
Welcome to yet another player ratings! I'm happy to report that, well, we have something happy
to report this week as the Portland Timbers put in an overall valiant effort in securing three much
needed points in this year's Cascadian Cup competition. While the regular MLS season remains
dismal, at least the Timbers are looking like a strong candidate for taking home the regional
With the final minutes of the first half ticking away on Sunday night, the New York Red Bulls
looked like they just might suffer their first loss at Red Bull Arena this year. Two early goals by
the Portland Timbers had the Red Bulls on the ropes and looking ripe for defeat.
The Portland Timbers reserves won their match up against the Oregon State Beavers today with a
score of 2-1. All three goal scorers were Timbers with Brent Richards and Franck Songo'o scoring
for the Timbers while U23's product Emory Welshman got on the board for OSU.
The Timbers played two very different games in the first and second halves.
Last Sunday the Portland Timbers faced a huge test against their northern rivals the Seattle
Sounders and they came out on top. It wasn't a pretty game. It wasn't an overtly dominant
performance by the Timbers, but they dragged out a 2-1 victory... and that's what really matters,
especially against a rival such as Seattle.
That did not go as planned. For the first time in the MLS era, the Seattle Sounders lost to the
Portland Timbers. I wouldn't say the Sounders were outplayed, but I don't know that I'd say they
were clearly outplayed in many of these seven games that they've failed to win.
Rather, this was a hugely frustrating continuation of an incomplete game being followed by a
The Portland Timbers squad brought north is primarily deep roster players, with a handful of
names you'll recognize. Brian Rowe will be their keeper as he joins from the MLS keepers pool, left
back Brett Evans is also new to Portland as of today. Timbers traveled only 15 players, including
AD Belen had the first word on the team's fight with the Philadelphia Union last week, but it
won't have the last word.
Nick Sakiewicz, the Union's Operating Partner and CEO, told the Goalkeeper that the fight was
the result of consistent fouling by Belen and that Philadelphia thinks very little of what happened
in Costa Rica.
Following Kris Boyd's official introduction, the Portland Timbers held a closed practice beneath
cloudy skies at Jeld-Wen Field. Boyd joined the team for his first practice as a Timber and seemed
to fit in right away during the team's warm-up sessions. From the moment the team was on the pitch
Boyd looked at ease and spent time chatting with Eric Brunner as the team did their early
Last week we all got our wish in Franck Songo'o being officially signed by the Portland Timbers.
Given his youth and European experience combined with an impressive display of control and skill
during pre-season it wasn't really a huge surprise, but it was a welcome bit of news nonetheless.
However, his signing does raise one question in what exactly will happen to Darlington Nagbe's
usual position in the midfield?
It is that time of the year to start speculating on exactly what the Portland Timbers' roster
needs are for the next year. For starters we need to take a look at the most used formations by
John Spencer and the Timbers and then fill in what the Timbers still have on the roster.
The Timbers employed a 4-4-2 for almost the first half of the season.
The Timbers held their first practice in Portland in more than a week today, returning from
their two game road trip against Toronto and New York. It was perfect training weather at the
team's Beaverton training facility as next year's designated player, Jose Adolfo Valencia, trained
with the Timbers for only the second time since joining the team and the first time since
undergoing surgery to repair the cartilage in his left knee.
After a light regen training on Monday and a day off Tuesday, the Timbers got back to the usual
intensity today in training at Jeld Wen Field.
It was a shorthanded practice, with Diego Chara, James Marcelin, Steve Purdy, Brian Umony and
Futty Danso all with their national teams. The only other player missing was Freddie Braun, but his
absence was not injury related.
I'm doing something a little different with this week's player ratings. Instead of adding my
own, I'll be using just my fellow editor's opinions. The unfortunate truth is that I'm in my last
week of classes at PSU and I just don't have the usual hour-hour and a half or so it takes me to
craft these articles what with all my looming projects coming up.
Meanwhile, midfielder Sal Zizzo was jogging with Nagbe around the playing field during the game.
Zizzo, who suffered a torn ligament in his left knee during the team's home game against Houston
last season, is progressing quickly and will likely begin training sometime after the team returns
Let's get this out of the way first, Portland lost because of Portland and not because of the
Ref. The Ref sucked and should have made New York Take the PK instead of blowing the whistle and
then saying he didn't blow the whistle. Also the first yellow was on Chara? Not the late tackles
and reckless tackles from McCarty and Tainio?
The Timbers held a full practice today after yesterday's light regeneration session as they
prepare to face the Chicago Fire on Sunday. Today's closed session at Jeld-Wen saw only one change
in personnel from yesterday.
Troy Perkins returned to the pitch to practice with the rest of the team after doing his own
work out yesterday.
Bright Dike practiced with the Timbers today in what could be his final appearance with the team
in 2012. Word from practice is that Dike will go on a season long load to the LA Blues of the USL
Pro division as was rumored on twitter yesterday. Dike will still take up a spot on the Timbers
roster and will be able to be recalled to the team if necessary.
An interesting mix of guys played a half-field scrimmage today. After the full squad warmed up
and most of the starters went back inside for their regen workouts, the players who did not start
Saturday's match took to the field. Interestingly, Kris Boyd and Eric Alexander joined the players
who didn't start, and Andrew Jean Baptiste was on the field as well, in spite of having also played
over 60 minutes on Saturday.
The season is just over a month away and the roster is almost completely set. Of course there is
still the possibility of adding a few more pieces or dropping a few of the newer players. For the
most part the Timbers have the core of their starting line-up signed. With all the changes to the
roster will John Spencer go away from the 4-4-2 formation or will he go with a different
The news that Sal Zizzo is planning to open a food cart spread like wildfire last week, and
everyone wanted to talk about it after the training session on Monday. Among the other topics of
conversation were Houston's long awaited return to the Rose City and what special significance that
has to Mike Chabala and Lovel Palmer.
Today's practice took place at Jeld-Wen Field under overcast skies. By the end of practice the
crisp breeze blowing through the stadium would be supplemented by just the slightest sprinkling of
rain. As Captain Jack would later tell us, it was the kind of weather that lets you know it is time
to do or die.