It was an energetic, and spirited game that saw 4, count them 4 goals. That is as many as the 'Caps have scored in a month this season. The 'Caps were pressing Portland's defense immediately to win the ball back and were aggressive from the beginning of the game to almost the end. Instead of the impotent and lackluster offense of previous games so bereft of ideas going forward, the 'Caps moved up the field with short passes and sprung the forwards with searching balls. Where was this effort when the 'Caps were in the playoff race and so desperately needed the points. Sure Portland was banged up coming into the game, but so often the jump and energy displayed by the 'Caps Sunday afternoon was unforgivably absent.
Here is the final report card of the season for an MLS match. A part of me wants to dock points for finally showing up when it no longer mattered, but I will respect the spirit of the report card and judge the players on their efforts on the day.
As always, a C grade means a player did no more than what was expected from him.
Giles Barnes, A+
Where did this come from and where was it when we needed it (ok, I promise I will not bring this up again)? Barnes played his best game as a 'Cap scoring two goals. One, a blast into the upper corner and another off a well placed shot around the keeper and inside the post. When he wasn't scoring he was threatening with his runs or deke-ing along the touchline to send balls into the box. He was a force with the ball and a constant threat. Barnes could have had a hat trick if he had not skied a brilliant shot on goal in the opening minutes of the match.
Nicolas Mezquida, A
I thought NIco played a strong game, as well. He was tenacious pressing the Portland defense and goal as they tried to get out of their own end. Mezquida scored a goal himself and was integral in moving the ball up the middle. I love how he demands the ball in every situation.
Kendall Waston and Tim Parker, B+
Waston had a yellow card and a dubious encounter along the touch line where it has been said he punched a player in the chest that drew the ire of the Timbers' bench. Together, the two centre backs patrolled the defensive box well and kept Portland's chances to a minimum even if they were involved in the foul resulting in the penalty kick. This reads like a rough night for the pair, particularly Waston, but they got the job done.
Matias Laba, A-
Laba made timely and beautiful ball winning tackles that only he can, and in the first half he made miserable passes to the opposition side like only he can. As the match progressed Laba cleaned up his passing game and bossed the central defensive zone like we all know he can. I will be happy to see Laba return next season. The preseason birth of his daughter was a distraction and he returned to the Laba we know and trust in the latter half of the schedule.
Pedro Morales, B+
We have to include Pedro in the final report card since we don't know if we will see him here again. He has been much maligned in the report card this year and for good reason. But I have to say, he had a decent game this, possibly, last time out. He scored off a lovely dipping shot from twenty five yards out, made the odd Moralesque searching pass to spring a forward and ran hard in defense, even if he doesn't always accomplish much when he gets there. It wasn't the Morales masterwork of seasons past, or even the strong play from the opening of this season, but it was a decent effort that had an impact. Without his goal the 'Caps could have never achieved their improbable steal of the Cascadia Cup.
Maybe, he should lose a grade for taking off his shirt after the goal.
It's the final game of the season and likely the final time we will see a number of the players in this lineup. The players made themselves look a little better than they truly were this season. What are your thoughts?