Portland Timbers disruption pulls St. Louis CITY SC off first

The disruptive, midfield cloud of St. Louis CITY SC blew away just long enough for Portland Timbers to edge out a win on Matchday 10.

Portland Timbers found a solution to the disruptive midfield cloud of St. Louis CITY SC. That’s the game strategy designed before St. Louis signed their first players.

But the defensive skills of the backline and in the midfield slipped in performance the week before at Colorado Rapids. Then the disruptive cloud blew away completely at home against Portland. That means the Timbers got clear enough to try 15 shots with seven on-goal.

St. Louis got off only seven shots total. So the home team could little afford to allow the visitors so many more chances.

The result shows on scouting reports that the teams played evenly against each other for most of this match. But then, Portland midfielder Evander scored a 63rd-minute penalty. The game evened up again with St. Louis midfielder Celio Pompeu scoring, assisted with a lob through the six-yard-box by Tomas Ostrak.

What kept things consistently uneven, in Portland’s favor, is that same Evander who started the scoring, along with winger Santiago Moreno, who assisted on Yimmi Chara’s winning 82nd-minute goal. That ball was a long skimmer in the box to the bottom left corner of the net. In baseball, it would have been a seeing-eye hit.

No one in the area of the St. Louis net saw the ball coming.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 04: Santiago Moreno #30 of the Portland Timbers. (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images)

Besides contributing to Portland’s scores, Evander and Moreno caused just enough disruption on the pitch to reduce the home team’s effectiveness and get the win. That disruption shows in the statistical report as a combined two dribbles, four aerials won, six tackles, and three dispossessions.

Striker Joao Klauss remained off the pitch with a leg injury. CITY supporters continue to lament his absence during the previous week’s draw with Colorado Rapids and this loss. But had St. Louis been able to best – or at least keep up – with Portland’s disruption of their game strategy, they would have at least drawn.

Except for those two key Portland players, who combined for eight of their team’s 15 shots, St. Louis faced no opponents playing so much better that they couldn’t handle them.

It was because of a synergy of Portland disruption coming from those two key players that resulted in the late chance the Timbers cashed in on. In fact, the second-half disruption was so consistent that no one on the St. Louis side saw the ball as it skimmed into the net.

Portland’s win helped pull St. Louis CITY SC back down from first in the MLS Western Conference. To get back on top, CITY must retune, then retool, their midfield disruption.