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

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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

Portland v. Philly Recap: 1-1. Barely.

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This is a pig, people. (I can’t speak to the thing behind it.)

First, major props to Will Johnson for calling a pig a pig in the post-game. And Caleb Porter was nuts for calling this game “tight” in the mid-game.

So, what the fuck happened to the Portland Timbers tonight? How do we start the season with a 1-1 draw, especially when our Cascadia rivals both won? (The fuckers!) Tough to say, really, because the game moved pretty quick and loose – which is to its credit. Open games are greater than tight ones. And I mean every time…

To forward an opinion as to what went wrong: Will Johnson and Diego Chara went missing when it mattered. It’s either that or the defense played too deep. Or, to Philly’s credit, they found room to operate in the (considerable) seam between the midfield and defense and, from there, wrought havoc. At least in the first half. And, to me, that gap is where Chara and Johnson ought to be. Or where Chara or Johnson ought to be, like, at all times. To choose between them, Chara improved as the game wore on, so….please don’t find my house, Mr. Johnson. I don’t fight!

Other players visibly struggled as well, chief among them Diego Valeri. Between bad luck and wearing a second left foot on the night, our normally rock-solid Diego looked a little out of sorts – see, the big whiff at the left of Philly’s 18 in the second half. Also consider why Will Johnson had to holler at him. Whatever it was, his feet betrayed him again and again. And then once more. I think Valeri’s still getting there and, after last season, enormous faith seems a reasonable default position.

I count Gaston Fernandez as another player who looked noticeably off. He played behind people, his runs weren’t nearly as productive as Urruti’s (nailed the spelling; unlike on Twitter) and he operated in a sort of “once-removed” capacity all night.

And then he scored the equalizer. This is the guy you don’t expect. And I take that as his marker that he’ll come around. And so will Valeri. It’s early doors, people. The Timbers got this…

In spite of my opinion, and Will Johnson’s (see? expert endorsement!), more Timbers than not played at the expected/desired level. As alluded to above, Urruti chased the ball like a ravening loon and his runs did more to pull Philly apart than any…other…Timber. Also, in the good column, Darlington Nagbe. Whether turning a 180 to face goal or taking on a Union player from a complete stand-still, he kept just about every Philly defender within a 10-yard radius anxious.

Other honorable mentions: Donovan Ricketts (saves!); Michael Harrington (blocks!); Jack Jewsbury (steady!), Paparatto (ditto! Way to go, other, taller new guy!).

If you’re looking for a take-away, most of the problems revolved around showing the new guys the right part of the song sheet and getting the regulars fully recovered. In other words, I have faith. It’s just a matter of getting everyone on the requisite level. And we will. Unless we don’t. Crap…the season really started, didn’t it?

As for Philadelphia (first, sorry to stick you around the bottom), they came off pretty well – and in both halves. Maurice Edu looked fairly commanding out there, McInerney all but converted me to the faith (for I have none), and the Berry/Okogu central-D tandem held pretty firm. Hackworth put in the subs I would have – we can leave open, for now, the question of whether or not that’s a good thing – but this was one point on the road in a tricky venue for them that totally could have been three. This was a good game, the rest of the East, so sit up and salute! So, the hype holds so far. And god knows why I didn’t pick them for the post-season…

OK, let’s see what the Timbers do next week. I’ll post a bunch of crap to hold the guests over in the meantime.