MLS, Week 8 in review: Timbers get a win, while TFC and LA have questions

Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

The Timbers won! There isn't as much celebration in LA, where Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan need help, and what is Toronto doing with Michael Bradley?

Before the season, the Portland Timbers, Toronto FC and LA Galaxy were all favorites to win MLS Cup, to some degree. Now it's May and there are massive questions about all three.

Portland finally get a win

Amazingly, it took until May for the Timbers to collect their first win of the season, but they finally got it. A 94th-minute goal by Max Urruti did it and sent them past D.C. United, 3-2, but the reaction at Providence Park was more one of relief than happiness. The Timbers may have won, but they hardly shined.

It took until stoppage time for Portland to find a winner, which isn't as big of a problem as it may sound against a D.C. team that was unbeaten in their last five, but this is a team that lost just once at home last season. This is a team that allowed two goals at home just once in the last seven months of last season.

And maybe that is the problem: we are still comparing this Timbers team to last season's.

Much has been made of Portland's struggling defense, and for good reason, but they aren't overwhelming teams in the midfield and keeping a consistent pressure on teams -- with or without the ball -- like they did a year ago. They lack the confidence of a year ago too. If not for the crest on the shirt, you wouldn't recognize that this is the team you watched a year ago, and maybe it's not.

Two months into the season, Portland has one win and it wasn't even their best match of the season. It wasn't a dominating performance either, or even one of an elite team. Maybe the comparisons to last year have to stop.

Who can help the stars in Los Angeles?

A year ago, Robbie Keane was arguably the best player in MLS. He and Landon Donovan teamed to make the best one-two punch in the league, but they haven't found the same form this season.

That's not all on Keane, who has been fantastic for stretches this season, but he missed his second penalty of the season on Saturday against the Rapids and was completely ineffective, just like he was in the season opener when he also missed from the spot. What Keane's struggles in two matches really highlight is how little help he has had to this point.

Even if Keane was LA's No. 1 last season, Donovan was their 1B, but the American hasn't looked anything like a star this season. He doesn't have a goal this season and has just two assists, while also going MIA for long stretches of matches. At 32 years old and with him clearly lacking the great pace he once had, it's fair to wonder if Donovan will ever be the great, dominant player who can be a threat for 90 minutes again.

That's not to say Donovan isn't good, or even that Keane is at fault for not being flawless every match, but it's becoming increasingly clear that the two can't carry the attack by themselves anymore. Whether it's the development of Gyasi Zardes, more help from Juninho, Samuel and Marcelo Sarvas, or a new signing -- maybe selling Omar Gonzalez in the summer and signing a new Designated Player -- Bruce Arena's side needs to give Keane and Donovan a helping hand.

New England's midfield bests Toronto's

A team with Michael Bradley should win the midfield battle in MLS. He is the best midfielder in the league by a wide margin, and maybe the best player in the league period. So how did the Revolution midfield not just outplay the TFC middle men, but parlay that into a win at BMO Field?

Credit goes to New England, and Lee Nguyen in particular, who was excellent in keeping the tempo of the match. The Revolution were always playing at their pace and with calm through the middle, allowing them to continually test the Reds' backline, but they had some help.

Toronto were always passive in the midfield and either it was because of poor play from Bradley and Kyle Bekker or a massive mistake by Ryan Nelsen. Considering this isn't the first time TFC have had this problem, odds are that it is the latter.

The Reds allowed the Revolution to dictate the match, often dropping deep to defend and not looking to transition, or even ask questions of the New England midfield and backline. Everything was deliberate or cautious, which is a ridiculous approach for a team with the league's best midfielder. It's even crazier with a backline that can be exploited, as the Revolution did to Doneil Henry, allowing his mistakes to turn into two goals.

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