August 15th, 2012 by Kelly McLain
While the Portland Timbers’ first conceded goal during Wednesday’s 2-2 draw with Toronto could be at least partially explained away with the general confusion inherent in flicked-on headers and rebounds from the goalkeeper (combined with some poor marking and ball-watching), Toronto FC’s second goal was virtually inexcusable in every way.
1) First up is the notable absence of Rodney Wallace and Sal Zizzo. Sure, Portland is playing in their new-ish 4-3-3 (or whatever you want to label it), but the outside forwards/mids still have defensive responsibilities. While this play started for Toronto reasonably quickly, it was far from a quick counter-attack and Wallace in particular can last been seen casually walking at the midway line.
2) Jewsbury has tabs on his man, but Mosquera is in no-man’s land; he should either just drop in and mark up or go double with Kimura. But what is even more unsettling is that neither, in this moment of calm before Kimura gets beaten, are looking around to make sure everything is sorted and opposing players are marked up. They are essentially ball-watching and not helping to organize their teammates around them. Of course the ball-watching sins of these two is nothing compared to…
3) …Horst, Smith and Ricketts. Watch the highlight of this play and you’ll see the most ridiculous of travesties. There are two Timber defenders in the box and three Toronto attackers. AND NO ONE (including Ricketts) SAYS ANYTHING! Nobody looks around, nobody points, nobody talks. Nobody does anything.
From start to finish it’s a pretty ridiculous goal for a professional team at the MLS level to give up. It’s even more disappointing when you consider that Portland scored two road goals for the first time… wait for it… ever. Ever. And it got wasted by ridiculously poor defending.
In the end, it is a road point and the performance does seem to be continuing some of the good offensive play we’ve seen of late, but given the first half performance and then the subpar defending in the second half, it’s hard not to feel like the Timbers let all three points slip away.