|Liam Ridgewell was back, but so was another familiar face on the other side.|
Schmid was hired by the Galaxy after they relieved Curt Onalfo from his coaching duties on July 27 after the Galaxy were in a tailspin with 5 losses and a draw in the their last 6 matches. Two of the losses were significant: a 6 to 2 loss to Real Salt Lake at home and a 4 to 3 loss to New England, and that was enough for the Galaxy to make a change. Playing against his old side in his debut, the Galaxy offense was ineffective and disorganized but their defense was enough to hold on for points, but they lost defender Jelle Van Damme to an ejection late, so he wasn't available for Portland. Schmid has been trying to figure out what assets he has on the roster, and the Galaxy added Jonathan dos Santos during the Summer transfer window, but Schmid didn't bring his biggest weapon, midfielder Romain Alessandrini with 8 goals and 8 assists in 2017, to Providence Park. Schmid instead turned to Giovani dos Santos, former MLS Timber Jack McInerney, Emmanuel Boateng, Joao Pedro and Gyasi Zardes to try and break down the Timbers defense. While the Galaxy have been a very strong team on the road, it's been their defense that has been troublesome in certain weeks, so it would be up to center backs Dave Romney and Daniel Steres to remain focused and work together.
|This song never gets old no matter how many times I hear it.|
Fischer has been at the controls for 12 matches during his MLS officiating career, but he's also been responsible for three matches in which he called 20 or more fouls on the Timbers in the past 3 seasons, including a debacle of an effort when Sporting Kansas City visited Providence Park back in April 2017 and held on for a 1 to 0 win with Fischer calling 22 fouls on the Timbers. But Portland and their fans had another officiating situation to adjust to with the introduction of video replay. Fischer was joined by his 2 assistants and the fourth official on the pitch, but longtime MLS veteran Dave Gantar was in a special video booth within the stadium to help review any calls during the match that needed scrutiny. MLS put out rules to each media member about the new video review, indicating that any decision will only be overturned if the video indicates "a clear and obvious error" in one of four match changing incidents: goals, penalty kicks, straight red cards and mistaken identity. Essentially, the video rule would only apply if awarding or not awarding a goal, penalty or red card was a clear and obvious error caught by the VAR, who would then notify the center official of a reviewable situation. The center official can still decide to conduct a video review or take the information provided by replay and correct the error, and any reversals will be communicated to the fans in stadium and during the broadcast.
|Roy Miller was good but he lost Emmanuel Boateng in this race.|
The reversal seemed to take some steam out of both sides as Miller, Blanco, Nagbe and McInerney all had great chances at goal that were missed badly - Miller's shank in the 19th minute was off a deflection and a rushed shot, while McInerney tried to redirect a cross in the box but skied his effort into the South Deck. After the torrid start and subsequent lull, the Timbers started to find their tempo and took the lead in the 33rd minute when Miller fed a ball up the left flank intended for Valeri. Jones made an attempt to try and steal the pass, but he ended up overrunning the ball and Valeri, and Diego's deft touch left Jones on the turf and the Maestro with space. He took a quick touch to settle the ball, and decided to launch a long range effort that tucked into the upper left corner past Rowe to set off a wild celebration in the North End and some happy dances for the Timbers. Portland continued the pressure to earn several huge chances on goal in an attempt to extend their lead, and perhaps the best chance of the half was in the 42nd minute when Blanco played Adi onside and with a quick touch and a miss by Steres, Adi was 1 on 1 with space and only Rowe to stop him when Romney made a recovery run. The two met in the box with Romney executing a slide tackle to get to the ball, but his subsequent action took out Adi in a big heap, but Fischer made no call whatsoever.
|Darlington Nagbe gets a double escort everywhere he goes.|
While Adi has usually been quick to shoot in these instances, however, the striker drove to the touchline and executed a back heel pass for support. Sure enough, the Timbers right back - who had been beaten badly on the previous attack when he stopped running and put the defense in poor shape - finished his run and slotted the ball into the left corner past Rowe to extend the lead to 2 goals. The tally came at a cost, as Adi tweaked his hamstring slightly and had to be replaced by Darren Mattocks although Adi did appear to be walking normally after the match. Mattocks threatened the Galaxy on several occasions with his overlapping runs and linking with Valeri, Nagbe and Blanco to spread out the attack, but at this juncture, the Timbers were more content to possess and run down the clock. The Galaxy, meanwhile, brought on the other dos Santos to try and stretch the match, but in an odd move, Schimd pulled Boateng for Ariel Lassiter despite Emmanuel being easily the Galaxy's best open field threat all afternoon. Schmid also pushed Romney out wide and Jones back to more of a distributing center back in an attempt to create more attack, and the Galaxy were able to generate plenty of passes and shots, but the Timbers were able to either block or defend all of them away.
|With Fanendo Adi injured, Darren Mattock entered. And did very well.|
Everyone could breathe easier with the win and I felt that Portland did well to manage the situation and create goals when they needed them. It wasn't a perfect match - the Timbers had too many defensive errors and allowed players into space at points, plus Miller's lack of foot speed will be an issue if he's asked to play left back - but the Timbers rallied around theit teammates to put forth a complete team effort. While Valeri continued to be a good source of goals, the team also had scores from 2 of their defenders while 4 other players tallied assists on those goals. Gleeson, to his credit, made some good saves at times and seemed more in command of his line at points, but he did have a few cringe worth moments that didn't hurt his side either. Portland now finds themselves in a four way tie for second in the West at 34 points with Houston, FC Dallas and Seattle - Portland is listed below the other 3 sides due to goal differential - just 3 points behind Sporting KC, 2 points ahead of San Jose and 3 points above Vancouver. The August 12 match against Toronto FC gives the Timbers a chance to gain points without losing ground in the West, and they have 3 more matches upcoming against the East (both New York sides and Orlando remain on the schedule). Portland also has 10 matches left on the 2017 schedule - 5 home and road left - to either secure a postseason berth or figure out their 2018 strategy.