Well, not quite sure what to say about that one. Atlanta and Portland finished at 1-1 in the first leg of their semifinal series tonight at the RE/MAX. A Classic Warren Ukah Goal™ put the Silverbacks up right before halftime, but Bryan Jordan canceled that out five minutes after the restart. Atlanta now has to do something that no team has done in 2007, win in Portland.
- Great individual performances out of Rodrigo Rios and Scott Buete tonight. Rios was as active as he's been all season, and was the primary source of the Atlanta offense for the first sixty minutes. Buete made up for the absence of the injured Tony McManus with his bulldog-like play in the center of the field.
- The Timbers controlled the first twenty minutes or so, things were looking pretty ugly.
- However, Atlanta began to find space out wide (mainly with Rios on the left) and started to take advantage.
- Millwood is credited with an assist on Ukah's goal, but I couldn't tell what was going on from where we were. A scrum in the box, and the ball trickled across the line. Weirdness.
- Portland leveled it with a long ball that got over Jarun's head. Jordan was able to avoid the onrushing McIntosh and score on his own.
- The last thirty minutes finally saw Atlanta feeding Macoumba Kandji on the right side of midfield. He created a ton of chances with his speed and tricks, but couldn't get the go-ahead goal that was so desperately needed. He nearly scored on a two footed lunge after a great ball from Rivillo.
- Tons of shirt pulling from the Portland defenders on Kandji and Millwood, the speed was definitely causing them problems.
- Josh Wicks was very strong for the Timbers tonight, making ten saves overall.
- Atlanta hit the crossbar on a chance late in the game on a corner. Millwood lunged at a ball in the six yard box, but couldn't keep the shot down. Lancaster also had a header cleared off the line.
- The Silverbacks played with great urgency in the last twenty minutes, I wish they could've found a way to do that earlier.
- Rivillo changed the game when he came on, a playmaker in the middle was desperately needed. That's no knock on Liendo, who filled in quite well for McManus, the team just needed more of an offensive presence in the midfield at that stage of the game.
- I would've loved to have seen more of Antoniuk as well, he never really got a chance to get going. He wasn't the league's leading scorer for nothing, you know.
- The linesman on our side blatantly missed two cheap shots by Porland players directly in front of him. Rios took a late shoulder to the jaw in the first half, Antoniuk took a forearm to the head in the second. Overall, the refereeing was very uneven.
It's going to be up to the speed of the Silverbacks to cause Portland's well organized defense to crack. The longer the game stays scoreless, the harder it will be for Atlanta. I think the Silverbacks will be best served by going for the game early. Even still, that might not be enough. I'm sure the Timbers will have a huge crowd that will make for an intimidating atmosphere.
Let's hear your thoughts in the comments.