Portland v. Dallas: The Search for Second Gear/Base

Promises of progress ring hollow when they go long enough without being fulfilled. That’s not complicated.

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Closer to scoring a goal than the Timbers…

And the Portland Timbers find themselves in a fairly uncomplicated position after four games and two points. Anyone can sit back and weigh what’s going well for Portland and what isn’t. Here’s a piece that does it, but I haven’t even read it yet, just to make sure I’m relying on the pickled brain cells; don’t want things like optimism and reasoned caveats to get in the way of righteous funk. What needs to happen is fundamental enough that it doesn’t need dressing up: it’s time for the Timbers to start scoring goals on one end of the field, at least deliberately or earlier, and stopping the dumb ones from going in the other end.

So, the Portland Timbers went on down to Dallas, waded past the longhorns (presumably; I have to assume that’s why those beasts featured in the broadcast intro) and took the field. Things started reasonably enough that to make a case for viewing this as the Timbers brightest start to any game in 2014. Too great a gap between the defense and midfield made for the sole worrying sign I noted early. Then again, I don’t remember a lot of major importance happening in the first 30 minutes or so…(highlights for those interested in confirming). Continue reading

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MLS Week 3: Cocktails and Cluelessness

Let the record show that cara oranges make crappy screwdrivers. Now…MLS Week 3…a little late…life, etc.

Take away the comedy gold of New England failing to score (and, fuck you, New England, I lost money on your failure), maybe Seattle swiping all three points from/in Montreal (Swiper! Knock that shit off!), and all other teams in action pretty much lived up to their respective preseason/early season reputations. Some reputations deepened a little (Columbus), some might have grown (FC Dallas), but it’s not like anyone thought Kansas City would struggle. And some reputations we’re…just…not going to talk about (TIMMBBERRRRRR!)

Games viewed:
Colorado Rapids 2-0 Portland Timbers (faithfully submitted here, but I have to acknowledge that people armed with the latest OPTA technology blew up my suggestion that Dillon Powers faded…fucking techno-bullies)
Sporting Kansas City 1-0 San Jose Earthquakes (more below)

This Week’s Edition of Review the Tape
Definitely Columbus v. Philly, a decision based more on score than results or highlights. I didn’t quite call bullshit on Columbus’ opening day result – and they dominated the game without question – I kept saying, but, but…DC! Put that in the context of Philly’s strong showing against Portland in Week 1 and you have a Columbus team that needs finding out. Still, some quick thoughts: 1) LOVE the DEVO sign; 2) yeah, Federico Higuain is good, but he’s too rarelyn noted how damned slippery the man is for a geezer (wicked change of pace); 3) yeah, yeah, yeah, Bernardo Anor, goal of the week; 4) finally, who is this “Fernandez” kid? I guess that’s why you watch a game…for which you already know the score…

Continue reading

Colorado v. Portland: Brain. And His Pal Fart.

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“What was that? What we need is emotional content.”

Which experience was the dream? The 65 or so minutes in which the Portland Timbers rather ineffectually controlled the game or the OH MY GOD WHAT JUST HAPPENED? As in the three or so minutes where Portland turned a rather polite draw into a two-goal loss. Plus the loss of the starting goalkeeper. Maybe the some pieces of someone’s mind’s still out there. Haven’t looked yet.

There was nothing to do but look away, really, after Portland coughed up that second penalty kick. The Colorado Rapids wisely took the opportunity to give another player a chance to take that second PK, and why not Dershorn Brown, who appeared to have recovered from Donovan Ricketts’ attempt to leave part of his cleat above and just to the left of his groinal area. (Yes, I know “groinal” is not a word.) That kid, Weber, think his name is Andrew did really well to save Brown’s attempt, but he bobbled the rebound. So it goes, you know? Call it a bad day at the office. If your office was a meat locker. Cold, cold, cold.

It’s not quite a shame what happened, mainly because Portland never quite got around to doing a whole lot today. The Timbers possessed the ball well enough and worked it upfield competently – better than competently, at least once in the first half (’twas a smooth move that freed Jack Jewsbury on the right for a cross that resulted in not enough tragically) – but just about everything ended quietly. I haven’t reviewed the highlights yet, mainly because I’m trying to draw just my memory, keep it pure, y’know (as it can be given the decision to float my brain in a little beer). Continue reading

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This is, like, right after team lunch…

Starting Tuesday and bleeding on into Wednesday, Major League Soccer (MLS) clubs fell one by one out of the CONCACAF Champions’ League (CCL). The word “bleeding” fairly describes the scene and sensation when a pair of clubs from Mexico’s contingent jabbed in nine goals over two games against MLS’s finest. And, by common consent, the two teams in question really are MLS’s finest: both the LA Galaxy and Sporting KC are tipped for deep playoff runs.

In the middle of the cross-border knife-fight, however, the bleeding slowed a little. Anyone glancing at the match tracker, or even checking the results later in the day, would have seen the unlikeliest member of MLS’s CCL delegation, the San Jose Earthquakes, applying the direct pressure (and…done with the blood metaphor). The ‘Quakes didn’t get a tail-wind of love for their trip to Toluca for Wednesday’s second leg in the CCL, not with a largely crippled/suspended backline, and especially not carrying a 1-1 draw to the Mexican mountains. But that backline let in only one goal Wednesday night and San Jose pushed Toluca all the way to PKs. And they showed up all right, even there. Continue reading

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Note the colors the guy who didn’t fall is wearing. It matters.

If a Major League Soccer (MLS) club makes it past the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League (CCL), I will leave a flaming bag of shit on my next door neighbor’s front porch.

No, I’ll go one better: I’ll light the bag, ring the doorbell, stand there till he opens it, at which time I’ll yell, “Happy Halloween, motherfucker!”

That’s the frustration talking mith . That and the desire to come up with the first in a series of stupid bets to spice up MLS’s 2014 season. Fascinating as the league is, I know all about the league’s summer doldrums, that time when the buzz of First Kick has worn off, yet the playoffs seem like they’ll never come. When this hits moves around a bit, and it’s very dependent on how one’s team is doing, but the wind typically goes out of the sails sometime like July, maybe August. So making bets can’t hurt. Just sayin’.

Hold on…if an MLS club makes it past the current quarterfinal stage of the CCL – and this is something we’ll know by the end of the day – I will attempt a citizen’s arrest on a cop.

Wait. No. I have a wife, two kids, a dog and a cat. I can’t risk arrest. Gotta aim lower.

Here’s the thing: it’s not just what happened to the LA Galaxy in yesterday’s sorry quarterfinal against Tijuana Xolos; it’s the fact that the…same…damn thing happens every…damn…year. How anyone looked at those slim 1-0 leads (see: LA and Sporting KC), never mind a draw, no matter how well-fought (San Jose Earthquakes) and thought they would, or will, hold up on the return legs in Mexico is beyond me. They never hold up, people.

I’m not sure they ever will. And yet every year, so many dutifully ask, is this MLS’s year?

The real pisser is that this will not change until CONCACAF, or whatever semi-corrupt sporting association runs this flea circus, times the schedule so that the clubs from both sides of the better are somewhere within their season. So long as MLS hits the quarterfinals before they’re deep enough into their season to have the sea legs under them – and in the nose-bleed heights at which most of Mexico’s clubs play (and, yeah, while we’re on it; WTF, LA? Tijuana’s sea-level, right? Seriously, what?) – they will flop over this same bloody hurdle every year.

Brings into question the entire point of the stupid exercise. I mean, if CONCACAF is just going to send a Mexican club to the World Club Cup every year, let’s just skip the dog ‘n’ pony shit of having BOTH Mexican and MLS clubs beat up on clubs from Central America and the Caribbean. Let the Mexican Federation can sort out who goes on their own.

This isn’t a call to disadvantage the Mexican clubs either. I don’t know. Maybe there’s a way to block out time on the edges of summer – say June or September – when all the clubs involved can do the whole thing at once, World Cup tournament style. Sounds hairy, but the current incarnation doesn’t really hold water.

Anyway, back to the bet. Tell you what: if an MLS club survives this current round, I promise to pick up my dog’s shit bare-handed on his morning walk and post a photo on this site. I am that confident*, people.

(* And, with this bet now made, finding some small part of me hoping that the MLS clubs lose. Because, ew.)

(NOTE: Links will go up later. I just wanted to place my marker in time.)

The Latest, and Least Complete, MLS Week 2 Recap You’re Going to Read in Week 2

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I’m not coming back, Earnest. Not ever…

Here’s what I know about ExtraTime Radio: they anoint kings and banish scoundrels too readily. And I’m not totally sure I miss Nick Firschau. I did like him quite a bit, but it takes a total star of a straight-man to come out of the background and Firschau was good, but not that good. We’re talkin’ Bert good, like from Bert and Ernie. (Cannot take credit for that one; totally phoned a friend.)

So, very late this week, but, as this is a place of understanding, let’s all agree to let it pass. Ohmmm….

I’m here to take a look back at Week 2 of Major League Soccer’s Best Season Ever (which is what they will all be going forward…till they fail). I really, really want to get these posted every Monday and will do better in the future, but life. Y’know? And these things will have shape…which should be pretty self-apparent.

Games I Watched This Week(end):
Portland Timbers v. Chicago Fire (already faithfully reported, March 17, 2014, Erin Go Fuck Yerself!)
New York Red Bull v. Colorado Rapids

Game The World Has Inspired Me to Watch
Pursuant to remarks noted above re: ExtraTime Radio, Seattle Sounders v. Toronto FC. Such was their admiration for Michael Bradley’s performance that whatever one calls the male equivalent of the vapors went around the podcast studio like an ebola outbreak. I want to see whether that was really down to Bradley’s wiles or Seattle being in something like disarray (because, that back pass on Goal 2, really?). Continue reading

Timbers Draw the Fire: On Those Days When You Can’t Fling Enough Crap

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Just waitin’ till the 2nd half…when the poop will fly!

Another day, another draw for the Portland Timbers. Another goal by fuckin’ new guy, Gaston Fernandez, this one just as weird as last week’s.

The remarkable thing: Fernandez scuffed at least two good looks prior to. One of those came on an at-long-last feed by Diego Valeri.

Last year’s flash Argentine (that’s Valeri) has looked stiff over the first two games; the same affliction struck Darlington Nagbe this weekend, which is a shame because I thought he looked pretty sharp in Week 1. Valeri, meanwhile, finally “found joy” (as local commentator Ross Smith…who somehow calls games for the Portland Timbers while playing for Ebbsfleet United eternally) late in Sunday’s game when he found space on the right side of midfield. That’s where that at-long-last feed came from. And Maxie Urruti came achingly close to tucking the same ball into goal at the opposite post. Any ball that gives two bites of the apple is pretty good.

So, what happened Sunday in that 1-1 draw against the Chicago Fire?

Well, for one, it seemed like Chicago had 20 guys on the field during the second half, everyone of them bigger than the nearest Timber. Portland almost seemed afraid to tussle with the giants, so they booted too many passes over the top, with Norberto Paparatto being the worst culprit (and whose pass selection generally irked me). Chicago gobbled them up again and again and Quincy Amarikwa kept buzzing around the box until – there he is again – Paparatto knocked him down in the area. Love the enthusiasm, ‘Berto, but curb the Argie-bargie…say, has anyone checked the etymology on that little slip of slang? (Turns out it’s not a reference to British ire at Argentines.) Continue reading