The Philadelphia Union created enough chances in Portland, as they put eight shots on target and another off the post. Andre Blake was his usual self with a series of terrific saves, but the defense continued their inconsistency and gave just enough chances to the Timbers. The ratings will highlight a few choices to be decided by the fans. Do they value solid goalkeeping over the goalscorer? And do fans dislike red cards more than they dislike defensive breakdowns that lead to goals? On to the fan ratings combined with the weekly rating from PSP, Whoscored and Philly Voice:
The fans put Andre Blake and team leading goal scorer Chris Pontius in a deadlock. Adam Cann of PSP gave the nod to Blake and Kevin Kinkead at Philly Voice rated the pair the same as well. The computer at Whoscored preferred Tranquillo Barnetta, who put in a solid performance with five key passes and an impressive 80% pass completion rate from an attacking position. More on Barnetta's performance in a moment.
On the negative side of things Josh Yaro was given the overall least valuable player award but the fans highlighted Keegan Rosenberry and his two miscues and paltry 58% pass completion rate for least rated player. This is the first time the fans voted Rosenberry as least valuable player. Last week the defense was the best rated unit but this time the blame was firmly on the back line for breaking down on the two goals by Portland.
Barnetta's passing tells a story
Yes, 80% completions from the attacking central midfielder is a solid number but take a look at Barnetta's passing chart from the game:
Barnetta has a lot of completed passes in the attacking half but they stop at the last quarter of the field. This indicates that Portland allowed the Philadelphia midfield sufficient space as the Union entered the half but were tight when the Union were closing in on goal. Notice the more direct passes from Barnetta are almost all incomplete, suggesting Portland had good control of the area just outside of the box. In a way Barnetta's passing is fools' gold because Portland gave up those passes knowing they could control the space where it mattered most. Barnetta did well to take advantage, but was unable to unlock the defense effectively.
It's worth pointing out that this kind of control along the back line is something the Union were executing early in the season, but somewhere along the way the discipline disappeared. The Union's disjointed defense, having allowed ten goals in their last six matches, has now been joined by a struggling offense that has only seven goals in those same six. These numbers aren't terrible, but they are concerning for a team that you'd hope would be peaking as they make their playoff run. They have four games left to fix get things turned around and make a splash in the MLS Cup playoffs.