Saturday, January 31, 2015

Portland Timbers: First Team 1, Second Team 1, Sporting KC 0

I see an....NLS Cup in your future!

What did I learn from tonight's super-early preseason clash between the Portland Timbers and Sporting Kansas City? For starters, I learned that “Fochive” is pronounced “Fo-sheev-ay.” Also, Peay is “pay.” Who knew, right?

Overall, though, I’m encouraged. 2-0 to Portland, and all that. Then again, if someone told me I’m beautiful, I would agree that, yes, I am beautiful. And do go on. (As in, people hear what they want to hear, and see what agrees with their hopes and dreams.) But, no, the wiser course is to slow down, to cool the collective jets, drop the nuts into some ice water and generally view these first 90 minutes of a sweet, ideally strike-free 2015 with the most powerfully clear-eyed prescription known to man.

In all honesty, I don’t have much for notes. The video feed hardly helped, what with the way it looked like Madden circa 2002. Still, I saw well enough to believe that Portland played a pretty solid, energetic game for this year’s first preseason outing. Splitting entire teams between 45-minute halves certainly helps with the energy, but that was smarter, cohesion-wise, than Sporting’s Tale of Three Halves. Which, like, defies physics. Or just science.

Good omens abound, though, when you think about it. The Timbers defended with proactive soccer on the way to keeping the sheets clean. And, holy shit, Portland got a penalty kick? If that’s not Mama Albighetti smiling on the Timbers’ 2015, I don’t know what is!

Anyway, the few notes I have, starting with Portland:

 Portland Notes
1) The first team defense looked amazing enough to foster delusion. Seriously, I’m so sold on the central trio of Ben Zemanski sitting in front of Norberto Paparatto and Nat Borchers that I’m seized by visions of clean sheets in late September, when the club is driving for Glory. Admittedly, I missed 10 minutes of the second half, but I didn’t see KC make much of a dent outside that errand-based blackout. While I’m by no means saying Liam Ridgewell won’t come back to start besides Borchers, I’m comfortable with Zemanski on top of two solid centerbacks of any name and combination when the club hopes to kill off games.

1a) Overall, Paparatto looked good. Borchers looked better. Just really ahead of everything. Here’s to praying to multiple gods, if that's what it takes, that that continues.

2) And, btw, swap in Ridgewell for Paparatto and I can’t help but think that the Timbers fielded the club’s starting eleven during the first half, pending Diego Valeri's and Will Johnson's return. More on this later…

3) Zemanski’s game is shockingly simple. So, so simple. Too simple?

4) I wouldn’t mind seeing Jack Jewsbury return to a central midfield role. Nice pass on the near goal in the second half through Jeanderson, into Urruti, etc. I think we’re deep enough at right back to think differently about what Jack can do, even if it limits his minutes…hmm…

Sporting Kansas City Notes
1) The Paolo Nagamura and Benny Feilhaber central midfield is pretty damn stacked. That’s a serious yin-yang there, people.

1a) I’d trade some crazy shit to land Feilhaber.

2) A 16-year-old kid took the field for KC tonight. He’s not even first team as it turns out, but his name is Felipe Hernandez. Now, physically/aesthetically, the kid looked every inch the pro. Problem was, he never put a ball in front of a player, at least not that I saw. It was like he always passed the ball to where his target stood when he made the pass. He’ll be fun to watch, that one, assuming he figures out how to lead players. I did, however, like the Feilhaber-esque way he’s able to keep the ball in front of him and at his feet while looking for the pass.

3) I didn’t catch that he was out there till he came off, but I do want to see more of Krisztian Nemeth, the Hungarian guy.

Anyway, nice win. I missed the goddamn free kick by Michael Nanchoff. Tell me it was a thing of beauty, something pretty enough to pair with the Sugar Plum Fairy in Swan Lake…

All for now.

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