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Week 6 How They Scored: Chivas USA, Portland Timbers pass well, defend not-so-well

The clubs trade goals in their first encounter of 2014.

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Goal 1: Darlington Nagbe finds Will Johnson in open space (7th Minute, 0-1 Timbers)

Kalif Alhassan brings up the ball on the right and Maximiliano Urruti calls for a switch to the left -- it looks as if he's got a clear path to the far post. Alhassan's ball goes well past Urruti, but Eric Avila misjudges the ball's trajectory and it ends up deflecting off his side. The ball takes a fortunate bounce right into Urruti's control, who in turn lays it back to Nagbe. (Note: Eriq Zavaleta thinks about pressuring Nagbe but stays back. Progress!) Urruti's now in an offside position.

So let's stop and check that back line.

boca gone

Andrew Jean-Baptiste's keeping Diego Valeri offside, but Urruti's sneaking past Zavaleta towards the far post. If Alhassan's pass is on target, Urruti has a good chance at scoring. Avila's trailing and Carlos Bocanegra is…well…not there. There's now nothing but open space in Bocanegra's CB spot. Might as well roll out a red carpet.

Agustin Pelletieri, who's essentially taking over Bocanegra's spot, joins Carlos Alvarez to double Darlington Nagbe and plug him up, but Will Johnson makes a terrific trailing run and Nagbe hooks him up with an equally terrific lead pass into open space. AJB tries a last ditch effort to make the tackle, but it's too late. Goal Timbers.

Who's to blame? The double by Alvarez and Pelle on Nagbe opened up Johnson for the goal, but that doesn't happen if Boca's there. It turns out Boca was off the field for the CUSA corner as well, which was only moments earlier. I then discovered the reasoning. Minutes earlier Bocanegra slipped 2 times in 15 seconds, both times in dangerous areas. He decided a change of footwear was necessary and at the post-goal kickoff, he's no longer wearing those black cleats. No fault to any of the Goats on the field, just a case of bad timing by for an equipment change and a questionable decision by the ref to wait. Credit to Nagbe, Johnson, and the rest of the Timbers' attack for taking advantage.

Goal 2: Cubo taps in a Barrera Cross for the Equalizer (79th Minute, 1-1 Tie)

With Chivas playing with a high back line, AJB starts the attack by feeding it to Leandro Barrera and proceeds to advance forward to join him. A quick give and go results in AJB leading Barrera with a nice chip pass that just clears Portland RB Alvas Powell's head. It might seem insignificant, but Diego Chara actually gets his feet tangled with Barrera and falls to the ground, allowing AJB the time to make that pass. After fighting Powell off, and collecting the ball with a nice heel kick, Barrera sends over a blind cross into the box and Cubo, who's unmarked in a Gambian sandwich, finishes with a fundamentally sound in-step tap in. There's no trickery here from Cubo, he wasn't trying to shift Michael Harrington or Pa Modou Kah's positioning. It was just a direct run into the box for goal.

Who's to praise? AJB did a fantastic job of staying with the play and joining Barrera on the attack. Considering the high line, it was a risky, but it paid off. Barrera also does a great job of shielding Powell from the ball to get his cross off. Cubo needs to write Kah and Harrington a thank you card for that one.

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