Edgar Guerrero's fortunes on the second night of eMLS Series One qualifying took a turn for the better at night's end, with a win over Los Angeles FC giving the Portland Timbers's FIFA player his second win of the qualifying round. But thanks in part to aggressive tactics while chasing second-half goals, Guerrero's first three matches produced different results, with a 2-5-1 record through eight of 14 rounds leaving "RCTID Thiago" work to do ahead of next week's final qualifying rounds.
What it all means
Guerrero still sits roughly where he was after night one: 20th place in the standings, but a manage distance from eighth place and the final knockout-round spot. Last night, that distance was four points. Tonight, it's six.
In terms of analysis, a lot of the context around Guerrero's results come down to tactics and strength of schedule.
Each of Wednesday night's matches was competitive heading into their second halves, but at some point, players have to chase games. Guerrero, usually after changing into the "Ultra Aggressive" attacking mode, was on the wrong end of counterattacks against the Colorado Rapids, Inter Miami and DC United. He went into his night's last match looking for a breakthrough. Against LAFC, he never trailed. As a result, he never had to chase goals.
With his win over LAFC's RemiMartinn, Guerrero may have finished the tougher of his two qualifying weeks. At night's onset, three of Thiago's four Wednesday opponents were still undefeated, and each of those three were ranked within the standings' early top 10. That strength echoed Guerrero's Tuesday slate, which featured three players who finished among the night's top nine.
Only eight games into the qualifying round, it's difficult to too much weight on schedule strength. A look at the top of the current standings (below) shows a lot strong players who've yet to faceoff with Thiago, But if the players who have hit Guerrero's schedule continue their good form, Portland's second week of Series One qualifying will prove easier than their first.
How it happened
(All recaps were written in real-time.)
Portland 0, Colorado (Gonzo) 4 — How night one ended, night two began, with Guerrero on the wrong end of a lopsided result. Thanks to a hat trick from Colorado's Cristiano Ronaldo and an early second-half goal from the Brazilian Ronaldo (icon), Portland fell 4-0 to open Wednesday night's action, with Guerrero's early second-half switch to an aggressive approach leading to Colorado's success on the counter.
Portland 1, Inter Miami (IMCF_Pabs) 6 — Another score which, thanks to second-half tactics, looks more lopsided than the gameplay, but such is life in eMLS; such is life after a 6-1 loss.
Despite going into halftime tied 1-1 thanks to an early converted corner ...
... Guerrero was forced to switch his approach shortly after intermission, with a 3-1 lead for Inter Milan leading to a change in personnel, formation, and aggression.
Unfortunately, it also led to Miami piling on the goals, with a series of scores from Inter's version of Cristiano Ronaldo prolonging Portland's search for form.
Portland 1, DC United (KingCJ0) 4 — What looked like a difficult schedule at the end of night one's action was coming to fruition on night two, with the Timbers' loss to D.C. United reinforcing Guerrero's course.
Down 2-0 at halftime, Portland eventually went down four to DC in the second half before a cross and a layoff ...
... gave the Timbers a late, consolation score. While goals in consecutive games showed progress in attack, Portland's defending, particularly while chasing goals in second halves, continued seeding the scores.
Portland 3, Los Angeles FC (RemiMartinn) 2 — In what could prove the most important result of Portland's qualifying round, Guerrero reserved his momentum against one of his night's most difficult opponents, taking a 3-1 lead ahead of RemiMartinn's first loss of the season.
Portland opened the scoring near the end of a first half where neither team could establish a rhythm, eventually finding Neymar streaking forward from attacking midfield to make it 1-0:
Guerrero's best passing sequence of the night led to a 63rd-minute goal for Carlos Vela ...
... before a quick response from LAFC made it 2-1. Within minutes, Pelé – who started with Guerrero's Ronaldo at the top of a diamond-midfield formation – scored the winning goal ...
... racing onto a lofted ball in the six-yard box to secure Thiago's second win of qualifying.
Six days' break until next week's sessions give Guerrero time to absorb tonight's lessons. In the past, those lessons were learned quickly — hence, historically, Guerrero's improvement between seasons' Series One and Series Two. Thanks to the way this year's qualifying is laid out, Thiago has a chance to make those adjustments sooner.
|#||Player||Club||PTS||GP||W - D - L||GF - GA||GD|
|1||Didychrislito||NYC||21||8||7 - 0 - 1||27 - 9||18|
|2||KingCJ0||DC||21||8||7 - 0 - 1||26 - 12||14|
|3||xbLeU||ATX||19||8||6 - 1 - 1||19 - 10||9|
|4||Adamou||RBNY||17||7||5 - 2 - 0||19 - 7||12|
|5||IMCF_Pabs||MIA||17||8||5 - 2 - 1||29 - 12||17|
|6||cisseSZN||PHI||16||8||5 - 1 - 2||29 - 13||16|
|7||GODFATHER||LA||14||8||4 - 2 - 2||18 - 8||10|
|8||ALEKZANDUR||SKC||13||7||4 - 1 - 2||16 - 11||5|
|9||Skill Shack||VAN||13||7||4 - 1 - 2||15 - 16||-1|
|10||AlanAvi||DAL||13||8||3 - 4 - 1||21 - 13||8|
|11||RemiMartinn||LAFC||13||8||3 - 4 - 1||19 - 11||8|
|12||DOOLSTA||NSH||12||8||4 - 0 - 4||14 - 18||-4|
|13||PhilB94||TOR||11||7||3 - 2 - 2||11 - 7||4|
|14||Gonzo||COL||11||8||3 - 2 - 3||12 - 14||-2|
|15||Kid M3mito||CHI||10||8||3 - 1 - 4||18 - 14||4|
|16||mehdibob3||MTL||10||8||3 - 1 - 4||18 - 21||-3|
|17||ADRIAN||SEA||9||7||2 - 3 - 2||14 - 13||1|
|18||HASIB||STL||9||8||2 - 3 - 3||17 - 20||-3|
|19||Fiddle||CIN||8||7||2 - 2 - 3||14 - 10||4|
|20||RCTID Thiago||POR||7||8||2 - 1 - 5||9 - 24||-15|
|21||BENR||SJ||6||8||2 - 0 - 6||17 - 39||-22|
|22||Maloney||ORL||6||7||1 - 3 - 3||12 - 14||-2|
|23||tokyorift||MIN||6||7||1 - 3 - 3||10 - 14||-4|
|24||JKO||NE||5||8||1 - 2 - 5||13 - 18||-5|
|25||JordyReyes||HOU||4||8||1 - 1 - 6||17 - 21||-4|
|26||ENZO||ATL||0||8||0 - 0 - 8||2 - 31||-29|
|27||Crew96Skamzz||CLB||0||8||0 - 0 - 8||5 - 41||-36|
MORE eMLS 2021 news
- NIGHT ONE | Dramatic goals, tight matches ring in RCTID Thiago's season
- WHAT TO KNOW | The basics of eMLS's 2021 season (mlssoccer.com)
- SCHEDULE | The whens, wheres of whos for Series One qualifying (mlssoccer.com)
- RE-SIGNED | Guerrero back for year four in Green and Gold
- FORMAT | MLS unveils the need-to-knows about eMLS 2021