The interesting thing is that this Timbers team, on paper, is better than the one that was so good two years ago. Individually, the defense has upgraded at all four starting positions. But the results have suffered.
What happened? Did teams figure out Porterball? That’s probably not it – the Timbers have changed their own style more over the last year than anything else. Portland has become completely unable to string together wins.
Maybe Porter figures things out and this team has a good second half. That’s what happened last year. But what’s clear is that Porter’s brand has suffered, and the Timbers are no longer among the league’s best teams.
8. Bradley Show
Michael Bradley scored the goal of the week with a powerful, determined solo run at New England. It got TFC a point in a game they probably should have lost, and provided a morale boost before the Reds return to BMO Field to face Portland.
For TFC to be great, Bradley has to be great. He, not Giovinco, is their most important player. Problem is, Bradley isn’t having a particularly good season. Greg Vanney hasn’t figured out Bradley’s best position, or the right players to put around and next to him, and it’s hurt – the Houston game, in which Bradley gave away a penalty, being the prime example.
The talent is certainly there. So is the desire. Bradley still hits more “wow” passes than almost every traditional No. 10 in the league. But it’s hard to shake the feeling that he still hasn’t quite found his feet in Toronto. If he can be at his best consistently, Toronto makes the playoffs. If not, it could be another rough summer.
9. Have NYCFC Hit Rock Bottom?
Down 2-0 at halftime and playing 10 versus 11 at home against the Chicago Fire, it was about as bad as it’s going to get for NYCFC. The following fight-back to earn a 2-2 draw was spirited, and provides a little hope for the future.
It’s vital for New York City that David Villa stays involved and keeps his head up through tough times – and Villa has always been noted as a consummate professional – and his assist on the second goal was a gem.
Next up? Jason Kreis returns to the Rio Tinto. NYCFC will get better. It’s a matter of time.
10. A Stadium for LAFC