RSL v. Portland: Curse That Baby-Kissing Bastard

ImageGoalkeepers are like Congressmen: you’re OK with your own, but the rest are thieves or assholes. (OK, potentially obscure title, but what do Congressmen do on the campaign trail? Kiss babies, amirite?)

This week, Nick Rimando is both a thief and an asshole. He turned in a man-of-the-match kind of night, only for the wrong team. So, yeah, thief and asshole. The Portland Timbers had at least three (3) high-quality chances on goal and the son-of-a-bitch stoned them all. Two of them after the Timbers went down 1-0 to a goal by Ned Grabavoy. I only just learned about Grabavoy’s once-medically fragile daughter and, being a father myself, I can’t imagine the stress, so, Ned, have that goal on us. And a pint. Just keep in mind that it’s the last one you get. Are we good? Good.

The four people who routinely check my Twitter feed will know that I saw a 1-0 game. I just thought that Portland would be on the right side of the final score. I can’t say why – and gods know I’m fucking awful at predicting anything more complex than the sunrise – but something told me, this is around the 15 minute mark, that the Timbers would pull out this game. They didn’t obviously, but… Continue reading

Arnold on ETR on the Timbers; Me on That

ImageSomewhere in the last year or so (actual year, not calendar) I discovered podcasting – which I now believe happens kind of automatically on arriving at middle age…probably relates to how music suddenly sounds scary somehow…anyway

I don’t listen that many podcasts; MLSsoccer.com’s March to the Match is the only one I listen to reliably (obsessively, even; and I do recommend that one, and highly. They just do things better ‘round there.) ExtraTime Radio (ETR) can lure me back every once in a while – notably, when they have a guest ready to talk Portland Timbers and everything that’s wrong with them this year.

That someone was The Oregonian’s sports reporter, Geoffrey Arnold, a guy I used to read regularly before they fucked up just about everything about Portland, Oregon’s leading major daily. The man does good work, though, so it was the paper who cocked it up, not Arnold.

Arnold’s segment on ETR didn’t last long, but he had some interesting things to say, among them: casting Caleb Porter as a “supremely confident coach, almost to the point of some arrogance” (in a highly-public forum, no less) and having close to zero confidence in the Timbers finding their first win of 2014 this weekend (TRAIT…oh, who am I kidding; I requested odds when betting on a Portland win).

But Arnold made some other, specific points. To wit, and to respond: Continue reading

Of Blaz Perez and Joining the Righteous Cult of Squad Rotation (C’mon Portland!)

ImageThis morning’s Kick-Off ran some little item ran on FC Dallas head coach resting the team’s forward, Blaz Perez. To anyone in a position to do so: see that this, or a similar memo, hits the desk of the Portland Timbers’ head coach, Caleb Porter. I mean, why not pull on some big boy pants and try a little squad rotation?

As noted in the piece on Perez, it’s about him being old. Old and tired. I kid, but it is definitely about resting a key player to, as the article puts it, make sure he, and others like him, are rested “when [Pareja] truly needs them the most.”

The idea of squad rotation – or even the simpler idea of giving players time to fully recover from injury – comes to me every time Diego Valeri creaks around the field like the Tin Man (as he did for the first couple games). Or, say, every time Darlington Nagbe dusts himself off from another “professional” kick at his ankles. Sure, you can ride either player another 20 minutes, or, when it comes to Nagbe, sick the Twin Terriers on the perps goon-style (that’d be Diego Chara and Will Johnson) to see if that can’t chase the problem away.

I credit Porter for working Valeri in over those first few games, but I’d still like to see him tread a bit more lightly through the recovery stage because it’s not like the fall isn’t going to be a fixture traffic jam – i.e. see note above about “when we truly need them most.” Bottom line, why keep a limping Nagbe on for the full 90, with Kalif Alhassan ready to roll at least half the time? If Valeri gets kicked – and, I swear, he’s catching up with Nagbe – sub him a little early, especially when the team has a lead. Um… Continue reading

Portland Timbers Player Salaries Considered, Courtesy of the MLSPU

You notice little things at first, like how some Portland Timbers’ salaries include $.04 at the tail-end of their total compensation. Some other things pop out, too, but only after one consciously alphabetizes the roster for the first time…how the hell does Steve Zakuani not come last. (Answer: Ben Zemanski.)

Also, glad to make the acquaintance of some of the players below…didn’t even know we had a guy named “Evans” on the roster. Welcome aboard, Mr. Evans!

Yes, the MLS Players’ Union released the salaries for players across the league today. You can find it here – and sliced and diced a couple of ways for your reading pleasure and astonishment. I’m going to confine myself to staring at the Timbers salaries, though I might circle back over the weekend for one of those “high-low” posts that point to league’s worst injustices and dumbest gambles in terms of player salaries. Those seem to come out shortly after this thing.

Anyway, the Timbers salaries are listed below. Just FYI, I didn’t include all the “guaranteed” salaries, which gives a couple players a little bump; I just included the ones that upped their amount significantly. Continue reading

A Polite Call for Caleb to Focus

“…[Portland head coach Caleb Porter] said he shouldn’t have to be preparing for this Saturday’s showdown with rivals Seattle Sounders…without two of his key players in [Michael] Harrington and [Darlington] Nagbe.”

Like the Limey’s say (though quite possibly about something else), it’s a fair cop. By that I mean, I don’t blame Porter for being pissy: MLS’s disciplinary committee basically admitted that the ref for last week’s game against FC Dallas screwed up on the red cards to Michael Harrington and JeVaughn Watson and Darlington Nagbe really does get the shit kicked out of him every week. So, the man bitches, MLS fines him, and we all move on.

Well, sort of. I don’t get the fining thing because officials do fuck up. I’d like to see the league save the fines for the persistent bitching, or outright character assassination, as opposed to the week-to-week frustration, but I can live in this thin-skinned world, too. And Porter can keep Harrington in his precious plans for this weekend’s biggie against the Oh-My-God-Is-That-Fucking-Ugly-Green* (*Psst…the Seattle Sounders).

There’s something in that quote, though, that never sat right with me and, really never went away. It’s nit-picky, so, please, indulge me. 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