Houston v. Portland: A Nothing Game in a Nothing Season

When even the in-house TV shills admit a game isn’t all that thrilling, you know you’re enduring something less than the finest in entertainment. That’s the kind of season it’s been for Portland, though. Just one game this season gave Timbers fans the sweet opportunity to dare to dream – the Seattle moment/debacle. Eight games into the season now and “mundane” best describes the attack and, “nervous,” the defense.

So, how bad was today? Portland scored – yay! – but only half-intentionally – sigh…. It’s what happened at other end, and keeps happening, that really freaks me out. 1-1. Another draw. Who the fuck are we, Chicago?

The Big Thing
Call this an attempt to finally define what troubles Portland’s defense in 2014: Pa Modou Kah is a terrible, terrible ball-watcher. This is a term I didn’t really consider till last season, instead filing most mistakes made by defenders under “fucking up.” I watch for it now and I see it a lot from Kah. He’s the worst of a generally reactive defense, of a back four a step too slow about attacking the ball and clearing it decisively. It’s not all Kah – see the moment when (I think) Will Bruin all but barreled over Mamadou “Futty” Danso on a cross from Corey Ashe, or when three Portland defenders gaped at a sprawled Donovan Ricketts after a save on a Brad Davis attempt. But Dynamo attackers breezed right past Kah at least three times today, the worst slip coming when Bruin bolted past him for a point-blank shot on a follow-up. Kah jogged back on that one. Intense as he is, he can’t be faulted for a loss of concentration. It’s more that he’s so mono-focused on what’s in front of him that he misses what’s behind him. Continue reading

Portland v. Chivas: I Have Seen a Movie Very Much Like It, However

Sometimes this is how you watch a game.

Say you’re at an indoor amusement gallery in a suburban shopping mall – we’re talking bum-fuck, even for the suburbs – and you’re trying to get 10 people into a laser tag arena at 10 o’clock on a Saturday. The place is loud, full of blinking lights and reeks of sweat. You don’t even want to look at the carpet. The second you walk in, though, you see they have the Timbers game on a big screen TV at the back of the room. Which is nice. You squint across the room – you need new glasses; have I mentioned that? – and see it’s 1-0 to Portland. Which is nicer.

Then again, the first thing you see is Portland failing to clear their lines on a set-piece. This is about the 65th minute, maybe closer to the 70th. It’s familiar, but definitely not reassuring. Still, the score keeps the bet you made alive (Portland needs to win) and that gets you wondering if the other bet you made (that Darlington Nagbe would score) came off. A replay reveals that Nagbe didn’t get Portland’s goal; Will Johnson did. Nagbe set it up, though, which is nice, but you know you’re already down a couple bucks. Continue reading