Tim Parker: A
The 13th overall selection in the 2015 SuperDraft has exceeded all expectations to this point of the campaign and followed up an excellent outing against Sporting KC with more of the same at Providence Park. He was assertive in his every action and did a superb job keeping Fanendo Adi quiet in the absence of Kendall Waston. Waston's participation at the Gold Cup affected head coach Carl Robinson's game plan to some extent in that the tactic of absorbing Portland's pressure and emphasizing the counter-attack game wasn't really an option. Parker, along with his partner at the back down in Lower Cascadia, kept a decent line to that end and looked remarkably composed despite the pressure of the occasion and atmosphere. There were certain occasions wherein the centre-backs were caught off guard somewhat - the opener an example of that after Laba was dispossessed inside his own half - however the American defenders did more than was asked of them to secure yet another vital result on the road. His consistency begs the question of where he lies in the central defensive depth chart now - second only to the Towering Tico has to be considered a real possibility now as he's helped turn a preseason concern into a midseason strength.
Christian Dean: A
Patience is a valuable yet oftentimes rare asset in soccer, and Christian Dean’s display against the Timbers is testament to the benefits that having such professionalism can yield. Dean hasn’t been afforded as many chances to impress with the first team as he would have hoped after becoming the third pick of the 2014 SuperDraft, yet hasn’t complained publicly nor looked for a move away in search of more regular minutes at MLS level. He was rewarded for that with the opportunity to start in a Cascadia Cup match with massive implications and an especially slim margin for error. Thanks to the understanding developed in USL with Timmy Parker, starting the East Palo Alto native became a rather obvious choice considering the test the hostile environment would provide. The WFC2-bred pairing passed that examination of sorts with flying colours, with Dean exhibiting the leadership and technical qualities that the club were so enthused about before drafting him from the California Golden Bears in Pac-12. A particular highlight from the 22-year-old’s breakthrough game would be his immaculately timed challenge on Adi in the second half to both deny the Nigerian frontman and rejuvenate his colleagues around him.
Mati Laba: B
Even the most mighty of superheroes harbour weaknesses of some form. Superman is crippled by exposure to Kryptonite, his powers rendered useless after coming in contact with the radioactive material, and Matias Laba is affected in much the same way whenever he meets the Timbers. Until last night, that is, where the Argentine defensive midfielder defied the odds in typically heroic fashion with a terrific performance that featured a spectacular 57th minute equalizer. Mati is one of the most cerebral players in Major League Soccer, clinically punishing his opposition whenever he senses blood in the water. Doing so to great effect against a Portland outfit with conviction in short supply, Laba disrupted rhythm throughout the night and nobody from either side made more interceptions (6) or tackles (5) as he did per WhoScored. His first MLS goal as a Whitecap was nothing short of extraordinary and was fitting to come in a fixture he so often finds difficult to exert control on. Undoubtedly some blame for the opener should be attributed to Laba for losing the ball to Diego Chara in a precarious and ultimately costly area of the field, however he certainly earned sweet redemption after unleashing that wonder-strike on Adam Kwarasey’s net.
Mauro Rosales: B
Amid a frenzy of moves spanning all areas of the roster, the re-signing of Mauro Rosales in the offseason has yet to receive the praise it warrants. He’s stepped up while Pedro Morales has spent time on the sidelines, enjoying some of his best form in North America at 34 years of age, and once again compensated for the creativity lost without the Chilean Maestro on the pitch against Caleb Porter’s men. Rosales inspires confidence with the ball at his feet and linked up well with Kekuta Manneh, Octavio Rivero and Nico Mezquida in and around the eighteen-yard box. Although the Caps couldn’t convert on any break, the benefits of having a player with Mauro’s intelligence in transition were blatantly obvious as he made an abundance of exquisite passes to spread the Timbers back-line. Rosales made a beautifully weighted pass in behind Liam Ridgewell to set Manneh through in the first half, only for the Gambian to see his effort denied on the line by Nat Borchers, and proved to everyone that he’s very much capable of dictating games of this magnitude at this stage of his career. His tireless work-rate from the first minute until Russell Teibert replaced him in the 84th was lovely to watch as a supporter and is indicative of the diminutive Argentine’s unrivalled hunger to claim points for his side.
Have some grades of your own that you’re eager to hand out? Let us know your thoughts in the most vibrant MLS comments section on SB Nation!