MLS Snapshot: Portland Timbers 2-1 Colorado Rapids

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PORTLAND, Ore. —

One game, 100 words (or less): Poor marking on an early corner kick allowed Deshorn Brown and the visiting Rapids to claim the early lead, an edge they’d hold through halftime.

Despite Portland controlled play coming out of the locker rooms, but it took 27 minutes for that control to pay off. After Will Johnson cut through the Colorado defense with a 72nd minute pass for Jack Jewsbury, the Portland right back was able to find Maxi Urruti near-post, setting up the equalizing goal.

Five minutes later, another Argentine snatched took full points for the home team, with Diego Valeri’s 26-yard shot into Clint Irwin’s upper-left corner giving the Timbers a 2-1 win at Providence Park.

Goals:

Portland: Urruti 72′, Valeri 77′
Colorado: Brown 16′

Three moments that mattered:

16′ – Cashing in on chaos – Left unmarked by Fanendo Adi on a corner kick, Drew Moor’s header creates chaos in front of goal – a maelstrom that eventually comes good for the Rapids. Getting his foot to a ball that barely crosses the line, Deshorn Brown sends the first assistant’s flag in the air, putting the visitors in front.

source: Getty Images
Deshorn Brown’s early goal gave Colorado a lead in Portland, but an off-the-ball injury forced Pablo Mastroeni to pull him in Friday’s first half. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

72′ – A rare glimpse of Porterball – It was the type of goal implied in the name Porterball, a moniker Portland’s head coach abhors, yet when Johnson played a perfectly timed diagonal through the right of Colorado’s defense, the movement and possession the Timbers try to leverage finally paid off. Cutting a ball back from the byline to the near post, Jewsbury found Urruti, who lifted the ball over Irwin to make it 1-1.

77′ – Valeri’s payoff – During the first half, before Portland came into the game, there was one Timber who was already clicking on all cylinders. Then again, that’s a description you could apply to almost any Timbers games this season. On Friday, Valeri took his chance to step into the spotlight, making his All-Star case with a 26-yard bomb that delivered two extra points.

Lineups:

Portland: Donovan Ricketts; Jack Jewsbury, Danny O’Rourke, Liam Ridgewell, Michael Harrington; Diego Chara, Will Johnson; Darlington Nagbe (Rodney Wallace 90′), Diego Valeri, Steve Zakuani (Gastón Fernández 61′); Fanendo Adi (Maxi Urruti 61′)
Colorado: Clint Irwin; Chris Klute, Marvell Wynne, Drew Moor, Thomas Piermayr; Dillon Serna, José Mari, Jared Watts, Dillon Powers; Dillon Serna (Kamani Hill 83′), Marlon Harrison (Gabriel Torres 65′), Carlos Alvarez; Deshorn Brown (Danny Mwanga 24′)

Three lessons going forward:

1. Portland takes itself off life support – There would have been huge symbolic meaning if Colorado came into Providence Park, converted an early corner, and held out for full points. Between the poor marking and an inability to break through an opponent’s block, the night would have checked off all the “These Are Your 2014 Timbers” tropes.

source: AP
Diego Valeri’s fourth goal of the season was Friday’s game winning, moving the Timbers up one place in the Western Conference. (Source: AP.)

Instead, Valeri’s goal allowed Portland to claim a vital win, and while there are still 14 games left in their season, another competitive race in the middle of the West makes intra-conference points all the more valuable.

2. Losing Deshorn Brown hurt – Even before his goal, Brown was causing problems for the Timbers’ defense. Whether it was running across Danny O’Rourke for an early chance or pulling Liam Ridgewell wide, the Colorado striker was his normal, attention-drawing self.

When he had to leave the game half-way through the first half, the Rapids turned to Danny Mwanga (not Gabriel Torres, who’s still unable to win more time from Pablo Mastroeni). The former top pick had a decent night, but he’s no Deshorn Brown.

Without the Jamaican’s threat up top (and without the suspended Vicente Sánchez), Colorado lost their way, putting only one shot on target in the second half. If Brown’s out of a prolonged period of time, Pablo Mastroeni will have to re-think how his team operates going forward.

3. Liam Ridgewell: So far, so good – It spoke to the depths Portland has sunk: A defender being praised for merely doing his job. That Ridgewell, after one week’s training, was able to do that could be a huge boost to the Timbers. Portland’s spent a whole season searching for someone who can do the basics in the middle

Asked about his performance post-match, head coach Caleb Porter alluded to a late match block on Dillon Powers, with Ridgewell standing his ground at the top of the box before meeting the ball. Porter explained it wasn’t glamorous but emphasized the importance of the little things. He may not have stood out, but Ridgewell was getting those little things done.

Though he’s a Designated Player, Portland only needs “decent” from its new center back for its defense to improve. Nights with 62 percent possession can do the rest.

What this leaves them:

  • With the win, the Timbers leap over Chivas USA to claim seventh in the West, leaving them two points behind fifth place.
  • Had the 1-0 held up, Colorado would have temporarily moved second. Instead they remain tied for third with the Galaxy, one point behind Real Salt Lake.

Report: RBNY midfielder Felipe, NYCFC’s Harrison could play for USMNT

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The U.S. Men’s National Team has seen a rise in duel-nationals representing the Stars and Stripes in recent years, and that trend could continue with two of MLS’ most promising midfielders interested in enhancing their international careers.

[ MORE: PST names Best XI for the 2017 MLS season ]

According to MSG Network’s Kristian Dyer, New York Red Bulls midfielder Felipe Martins is in the midst of a finalizing his American citizenship, while New York City FC attacker Jack Harrison has spoken with U.S. Soccer about potentially representing the U.S..

Martins already has his green card — which opened up an international slot for the Red Bulls this season –but obtaining citizenship in the near future would make him eligible for selection for the USMNT ahead of the 2022 World Cup qualifying cycle.

The 27-year-old had also previously applied for permanent residency in Canada back in 2013 while Martins was with the Montreal Impact, however, his aspirations to represent the nation never transpired.

Meanwhile, Harrison recently represented the England Under-21s in October, but he too could be on track for U.S. citizenship over the next few years if he remains in MLS.

[ MORE: Justin Meram talks Crew’s good form, facing Atlanta and more ]

In Dyer’s report, he notes the rising interest in Harrison from English clubs, though, and a potential move back to the United Kingdom would hurt the former Manchester United academy member’s chances of joining the USMNT.

Harrison is only in his sophomore season with NYCFC, but the young Englishman has garnered plenty of attention after scoring 14 goals and adding 13 assists thus far for the Bronx side.

Pro Soccer Talk’s 2017 MLS awards: Who earned the hardware?

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Decision Day tipped the scales for several players and clubs as Major League Soccer transitions towards the MLS Cup Playoffs.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

Now, it’s time to take a look back at the best players/coaches from the 2017 season, including the league’s Most Valuable Player.

Below, PST hands out its awards for the 2017 MLS regular season and gives some insight into the selections.

MLS MVP

Matt Reed Joe Prince-Wright Nick Mendola Andy Edwards Kyle Bonn Dan Karrell
1st place David Villa  Sebastian Giovinco Sebastian Giovinco Diego Valeri Diego Valeri  Sebastian Giovinco
2nd Diego Valeri  Miguel Almiron Diego Valeri David Villa David Villa Nemanja Nikolic
3rd Nemanja Nikolic  Diego Valeri Nemanja Nikolic Nemanja Nikolic Nemanja Nikolic  David Villa

PST thoughts — Reed: “This may be one of the most difficult MVP races to assess in recent seasons simply because of the way that things shaped up towards the end. Nikolic was brilliant, and deservedly won the Golden Boot, but Valeri and Villa each carried their teams to first-round byes with strong efforts throughout the course of 2017. I think Sunday’s effort against the Crew showed just how important Villa is to NYCFC, though, as he nearly picked up his second hat-trick of the season. Without his goals, NYCFC drops to fifth place.”


Manager of the Year

Reed JPW Mendola Edwards Bonn Karell
1st place Tata Martino  Greg Vanney Tata Martino Tata Martino Caleb Porter  Greg Vanney
2nd Greg Vanney  Carl Robinson Chris Leitch Greg Vanney  Greg Vanney Veljko Paunovic
3rd Chris Leitch  Wilmer Cabrera Greg Vanney Patrick Vieira Patrick Vieira  Caleb Porter

PST thoughts — Edwards: “It’s crazy to not put the coach of the all-time points record holders first here, but what Tata did this year — quickly melding together 20 guys over the course of seven months and turning them into legitimate contenders — is a slightly tougher task. TFC rolled over 10 of 11 players from last year’s MLS Cup side (adding only Victor Vazquez, the unquestioned missing piece), which significantly lowers the degree of difficulty of the task as hand.”


Rookie of the Year

Reed JPW Mendola Edwards Bonn Karell
1st place Julian Gressel  Julian Gressel Julian Gressel Julian Gressel Julian Gressel  Julian Gressel
2nd Abu Danladi  Abu Danladi Jack Elliott Jackson Yueill Abu Danladi  Ian Harkes
3rd Jack Elliott  Ian Harkes Jonathan Lewis Alex Crognale Jack Elliott  Abu Danladi

PST thoughts — JPW: “A rising star for Atlanta, his ability to create goals in a dynamic attack has not been overlooked. Just edges the award ahead of Danladi, Harkes and Jack Elliott.


Newcomer of the Year

Reed JPW Mendola Edwards Bonn Karell
1st place Nemanja Nikolic  Nemanja Nikolic Nemanja Nikolic Josef Martinez Miguel Almiron  Nemanja Nikolic
2nd Miguel Almiron  Josef Martinez Romain Alessandrini Nemanja Nikolic Nemanja Nikolic  Miguel Almiron
3rd Victor Vasquez Bastian Schweinsteiger Miguel Almiron Romain Alessandrini Victor Vasquez  Victor Vasquez

PST thoughts — Mendola: “Was this the best year of imports in MLS history? It’s hard to say otherwise, with Romain Alessandrini, Miguel Almiron, Josef Martinez, even half-season talents like Vako Qazaishvili and Paul Arriola. Well, wow. Nikolic’s 24 goals give him the distinction of leading three different leagues in scoring across four seasons.”

Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium will host 2018 MLS All-Star Game

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Atlanta United has done just about everything right in its first season in MLS, and the club is already being rewarded.

[ MORE: Justin Meram talks Crew’s good form, facing Atlanta and more ]

On Monday, Major League Soccer announced that Atlanta will host the 2018 MLS All-Star Game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

The new venue has already been a part of MLS history when Atlanta hosted over 71,000 supporters on Sunday in the club’s regular season finale against Toronto FC.

“We’re proud to bring our 2018 All-Star Game to Atlanta, a city and Club that have taken Major League Soccer by storm,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in a league statement. “Atlanta United’s success is one of the most compelling and impressive expansion team launches in the history of pro sports, and a testament to Arthur Blank’s vision and leadership, and the tremendous team that he has built both on and off the field.

“Atlanta and its supporters have earned the opportunity to host MLS All-Star week and showcase their passion for the beautiful game.”

The expansion side has taken MLS by storm in its first season in the league, with its supporters purchasing more than 36,000 season tickets and the club averaging roughly 48,200 fans per home match.

[ MORE: PST names its Best XI for the 2017 MLS season ]

To this point, the date and opponent for next year’s All-Star Game are yet to be determined.

Cristiano Ronaldo captures Best Male Player at FIFA awards

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The yearly debate as to whom the best player in the world is won’t be settled in the minds of fans across the globe, but on Monday, FIFA gave its two cents.

Real Madrid attacker Cristiano Ronaldo took home Best Male Player honors at the FIFA Best awards, beating out Lionel Messi and Neymar for the title.

[ MORE: Mbappe wins Golden Boy award, beats out Pulisic, others ]

Meanwhile, all three superstars were named in the FIFA Best XI for the year, alongside the likes of Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon and Andres Iniesta.

Here’s a look at some of the other winners from Monday’s FIFA awards.

Best Male Player: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)

FIFA World XI: Gianluigi Buffon; Dani Alves, Sergio Ramos, Leonardo Bonucci, Marcelo; Luka Modric, Toni Kroos, Andres Iniesta; Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar.

FIFA Men’s Coach of 2017: Zinedine Zidane (Real Madrid)

Puskas Award for Best Goal: Olivier Giroud (Arsenal)

Best Female Player: Lieke Martens (Netherlands)