Thursday, February 25, 2016

Portland v. Vancouver: A Timely Experiment (that should end right now).

Not pictured: Blas Perez running in to kick these kids.
Well, that was fun, yeah? Seeing a collection of (metaphorical) toddlers run out against a bunch of (metaphorical) first-teamers. (OK, yes, low blow. Vancouver Whitecaps fans, you have my apologies. And yet...)

Immediately after I told the guy sitting next to me something to the effect that the Portland Timbers were doing pretty well in terms of keeping Vancouver's first team off the scoreboard? Of course they scored. Of course...a better fan would have gone piss immediately after to insure that the Timbers would have scored in his absence. I guess I'm not that fan, but, then again, scoring wasn't really on the cards for the Portland Timbers tonight, was it?

In case it's not clear by now, the Portland Timbers trotted out a clear B-Team tonight, to play against....yep, that's pretty much the Vancouver Whitecaps starting eleven. Well, give or take on Vancouver's starting eleven, but, still, they had more of their A-team in the game than Portland did, and by a country mile. Any Timbers fans losing his/her mind over this....well, first of all, he/she shouldn't. Not even the guy on the MAX who wondered out loud to his girlfriend how a team that won MLS Cup only a few months ago could lose at home in their preseason. He seemed especially disappointed that this happened right after beating Minnesota United so comprehensively just a few nights ago? It's not that shocking, is it? (And, to his credit, the same guy acknowledged shortly thereafter that Portland started virtually none of their, uh, starters, so...again, he was surprised, why?).

Speaking for myself, I didn't know what to expect when I showed up tonight – and that's mostly down to willful ignorance of Portland's staring eleven on any given match day. With that in mind, any and all can paint me all colors of giddy about what I watched out there tonight – e.g., our depth against (most of) an MLS club that many people expect to do pretty well in 2016. For this lukewarm mess of a team to lose just 2-0 to a club that scored once with a new striker (left wide-open on the back post) and again with one of last year's starters? Well, I wouldn't say I learned a ton about what to expect from the Timbers as a team this year. What I did learn, however, was a thing or two about Portland's depth, plus a likely sub here, maybe a starter there. And that's what the rest of this will be about. Ready, steady...go!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

On Portland's Win Over Minnesota: Dominance and Vulnerability

Second guy from right? Me. Totally me.
At the end of the first half of Portland Timbers v. Minnesota United, I tweeted something pretty close to, "we're not gonna learn much from this one." No combination of actions, events or words captured that better than the Timbers third goal (of four) – e.g. the one that saw a minimum of five Timbers work the ball inside from the (eternally wide-open) right side of the field, from whence, Portland shoved the key in the lock: Diego Valeri fed Darlington Nagbe who slipped past three defenders to open the lock, score the goal, and, pow! The rest was a pretty dull game. One in which I found the most excitement from celebrating how expertly Ned Grabavoy drew a foul on the top of the area (ball in, ball out, in, out, run toward goal, then...fall; Classic Theatre!).

Said third goal, Portland's, came in the second half, after three prior occasions, all inside the first half, when Portland waltzed the ball to 10-to-6 yards from Minnesota's goal before firing chances with better (more) or worse (less) odds for success. So, no, Timbers fans didn't learn what to expect when their team lines up against Major League Soccer's elite, but they do know just how much the continuity in the Timbers' lineup helps them. Just helps them. I was going to stick a metaphor in there (or a simile; still turned around on all that (don't get me wrong, valuable) high school shit), but it's wise to keep things simple sometimes, to just note that the Timbers ongoing understanding of a manageable set of some highly-effective roles makes them a very strong and dangerous team. If you asked me to assess Minnesota United based on tonight alone, I'd tell you they're a collection of doomed men who, given a year to explain it, couldn't tell you what they’re doing out there.

Anyway, the point is, the Timbers hit best-in-North-America form and shape only a few months ago. While there have been departures, and important ones, enough of the key pieces remain in place to create one a glorious goddamn puzzle. We're talking the Picasso, Blue Period of jigsaw puzzles. Every player not only has a role, he knows it. This is form making sweet, sweet love to function. Hold on...maybe this is closer to painting the Sistine Chapel...

Friday, February 12, 2016

Portland Timbers' Tussle with RSL, Cool As You Like

Screenshot of video: McInerney being restrained. Maybe.
I’m sitting here looking at the notes I took while watching last night’s game and I’m thinking, jesus, did a monkey write this? And was it blind? (Answers: no, and no; and, yes, my handwriting is worse than a blind monkey's). But, seriously, folks...

I wouldn’t say that the Portland Timbers “put away” Real Salt Lake last night, but they handled them all right and, generally, or at least to my occasionally wandering eye and oft-snacking body (hey, had to fast for a blood-draw the day before), looked the better team. That held, in balance, until the subs came on. And after the game got a little weird. Let’s touch on that first, the “weird game” thing...

I hinted at this on twitter when the announcement was made: my antenna pricked up when Yura Movsisyan returned to RSL. I have plans to elaborate on this on another space and by way of another medium (tease), but I rated Movsisyan fairly highly when he was with RSL back in the late dicketies (or aughts or 2000s; choose your phrasing). As such, I watched Portland v. RSL with that on my mind.

I had also decided to make an effort to track Jack McInerney through his first start (or half-start) for the Timbers, but not just him: I was also keeping an eye on Dairon Asprilla and Andy Thoma.

And then the ref cocked it all up by…informally, I guess(?), ejecting both Movsisyan and McInerney. God, refs are such dicks.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Portland v. Seattle: On a Quiet Fight Before the Dawn

Sort of a new aspiration for tone and feel...ah....
So I lied. Posting here again. I think there's enough Portland Timbers content on PTFCollective already that adding another stick would be just another stick on the big, beautiful bonfire, thereby abetting overkill. Call this a little eddy in the larger stream of content...visit when you want to sit a while with your thoughts on the Timbers. Shh...listen to the water, let it flow around you. Ignore the couple aggressively dry-humping a little ways upstream and just...shh...think they're almost I'm right here. It's not like I'm not talking...

Speaking of dry humping, the Major League Soccer preseason rolled on last night, with the Timbers squaring off in the early evening yesterday against their less-fashionable, less-adored northern neighbors, the Seattle Sounders. The result followed the pattern from last season – e.g., Seattle struck first, but the Timbers won when it mattered...even blew the occasional fuse (There are those who say that Portland fans will never let Sounders fans forget that Portland won MLS Cup before they did; I'll be the guy forever rubbing in the epic, embarrassing meltdown in the U.S. Open Cup, July 2015).

This being everyone's preseason, I have only short notes on this one, no grand narrative, etc.