|The only thing missing is a beer.|
Sending me to watch a soccer game live is like dropping an infant into a room full of mirrors, crinkly stuffed animals and buttons that make noises when pushed. I get very, very distracted. By everything (I haven’t quietly "made" at a live game; so far so good). When I'm not staring at everything but the game, I'm talking to the person I came with. Damn close to non-stop, too. Because I like my friends.
So, anyone looking for in-depth, closely observed match analysis probably ought to check elsewhere (the stuff in there on Gaston Fernandez is interesting in a "hey-a-friend-of-a-friend-who-you-will-never-meet-did-this-interesting-thing" kind of way). Happily, the couple articles and the box score I checked this morning matched my fuzzy impressions of the game (which degraded to downright wooly by the 85th minute), down even to wondering if everyone played that little bit better because they’re all afraid that Will Johnson will holler at them...
Yet I think that’s the key: the Portland Timbers, as a whole, just played a better game last night. And, shit, buried the lead again, the Timbers beat a thrown-together DC United side 1-0. They didn't appear to do anything drastically different, either. Dairon Asprilla had a beast of a run, bulling and stumbling through and over three DC players (that one got the crowd all whooped-up) and he looked great on both sides of the ball, and I guess that’s a good short-hand for what went right out there. The Timbers, as a whole, shelved the occasional hesitant listlessness that has weighed so heavily on the season and instead played with good, solid aggression. Basically, they chose not to suck. Perhaps out of fear of Will Johnson.
And...that's where the analysis dries up. After that, I agree with some general observations made in other people's analyses/articles – e.g. I’d rather see Maximiliano Urruti out there than Fanendo Adi, uh, let’s not carried away with one win, um, this wasn’t DC’s best, first team, etc. Oh, to part ways a little with one comment, I would like to see Asprilla start over Rodney Wallace. No shade on Wallace, really, but I think Asprilla has a couple more tricks in his bag. And we need tricks, people.
There was one upside to being at the stadium: I was surrounded by people sharing all manners of opinions on the state of the team. There was some value in that – well, except for the guy who kept shouting "red card!" every time a Timber was fouled – because, the only thing that separates eavesdropping from interviewing is the absence of a formal Q&A process (pfft...details). So, I’m going to go ahead and call this original reporting. Just adding value, people...
So, what is the state of mind of (a tiny, almost meaninglessly small sample of) Timbers' Nation?
First, people seem fairly comfortable with Adam Kwarasey, certainly more comfortable than I am; even the professionals agree (link later). Personally, I find him maddeningly passive; just last night, he waited for a cross to land in his mid-section, a decision that bore a strong resemblance to one that allowed the Los Angeles Galaxy to score a while back. Still, maybe I'm missing something...I'm just going to voice my doubts, so I can mutter, "I told you so" if things don’t work out.
In a bit of a surprise (at least for me), not one person in the seats around me liked Alvas Powell – one guy so much that he would probably fault Powell for the way he stands or drinks water. Admittedly, Powell's limitations showed last night – e.g. that ability to get forward, but only so far and only so well- but I still credit Powell with having as good a 2015 as any Timber. Regardless, I was under the impression that most people liked ol’ Alvas.
Finally, no one likes Fernandez. In fact, the little group around me had just wrapped up a 20-second bitch-fest when Fernandez pinged over the assist on Rutti-Tutti-FreshUrruti's goal.
Uh...think that’s it. Good win, happy to get it, 16 points from 13 games somehow reads a lot better than 13 points from 12, etc. But, yes, let’s all keep our heads until the Timbers manage to find a couple more partners for that "W."
Oh, and Darlington Nagbe played last night, right?