Drilling down on: at Montreal 2, Portland Timbers 0

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Man of the Match: Saturday’s first match of the MLS weekend was light on big performances, but Impact center back Shavar Thomas stepped forcefully into critical challenges and generally helped reduce Timbers striker Kris Boyd’s impact. His work was critical early in a game that was scoreless through 75 minutes.

Packaged for take-away:  

  • For Major League Soccer’s preservation, there can’t be many of these. The first match of nine on Saturday was, in official parlance, a “stinker.”  You get these every now and then, even in leagues more mature than MLS. A lot of things come together to make one dip into the “gotta get some coffee zone.”
  • First, that field is atrocious. It’s a bad artificial turf laid over a concrete floor. (Very old school that way.) So the players have trouble corralling passes, which makes for a disheveled match. Portland Timbers coach John Spencer called the turf “horrendous.”
  • Second, there’s not a lot of creativity between either team.  In fact, there’s not a whole lot of good going on with either team right now. Expansion Montreal will remain a work in progress for some time, and Portland just isn’t much to shout about on the road. Never has been.
  • Throw in a couple of replacement fullbacks (who are less inclined to scoot forward) and a couple of others manning less familiar roles (something else that encourages a conservative pose) and you get a match like this.
  • Either way, Montreal will be happy with its second win of 2012 and its first clean sheet.
  • The game did open up, at least, over the last 15 minutes.
  • And yet even then, the sides combined for just five corner kicks, a pretty good indication of this one.
  • We already addressed the game’s controversial penalty kick here. (Video of the sequence is there, too.)