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.

The game itself was an odd duck. Seattle started a batch of rookies in weird places – central midfield, mainly – which allowed Portland to move the ball pretty much at will through most of the first half. For god knows what reason, the Sounders afforded Central-Park sized areas for Diego Freakin' Valeri to operate in, often just 20-25 yards in front of their goal. Their central defense didn’t allow a ton of penetration, to their credit, Diego repaid the favor by looking sharp and keeping the Timbers attack varied and wide open. I also liked the look of Ben Zemanski, who helped Diego Chara clog up the middle, while contributing some nice poise and changes of tempo deeper in midfield. Chara and Zemanski played what I interpreted as a pretty effective empty bucket, which is a nice thing for Portland to tuck into their back pocket.

The game opened up in the second half:; Seattle became a lot more coherent and dangerous after they swapped out the midfield; their changes across the back four helped peg back the Timbers early in the second half, but those same changes might very well have left the openings that allowed Portland's Jack McInerney to, first, equalize, then take the lead. Seattle scored, of course, and, as noted above, first, but that had a lot to do with a switched-off lapse by Taylor Peay (who allowed Seattle’s Darwin Jones to slip past and inside).

That, for me, tells the story in broad terms. Oh, I should mention that, per later notes, Portland looked close to rock-solid defensively; looks like there's not much fall-off there – something that given presences and absences, deserves some further notes below. Anyway, catch all the goals here, if you wanna, or, for all you deeper divers, the entire damn feed.

- For anyone curious about what Jack McInerney can, can't, or will do Saturday's game should give you a pretty good idea. The first goal, in particular, shows how I've seen him make runs. Yeah, I still think he's junkie-reliant on service, but, any time he can get himself on the ball in the area, he can be a pain the ass. Even if he's just trying to bull-in to the area with the ball at his feet and two defenders in front of him, he's just sort of an agent of chaos that's generally easy to contain, but he’s a real pain in the ass when he breaks free.

- Here's one for thought: to what extent can Jermaine Taylor push Liam Ridgewell? Or Nat Borchers, for that matter? Taylor is experienced and poses good size, but I think just about everyone took note when he kept pace with/kept out Seattle's Obafemi Martins when the latter was sent through on goal. Whether he did it by pace, or by taking the correct angle (my vote), that was a promising defensive moment.

Speaking of Oba, wow, did he drop deep all over that first half. Between that and losing Valeri all over the place (again, Valeri), the midfield Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid sent out there proved pretty damn aimless and messy.

- Sticking with the defense, I thought Trevor Morley looked OK out there. When things got frantic, sometimes by way of his own slips, Morley presented decent presence of mind when cleaning them up; he also coordinated with Peay to competently cover a Seattle breakaway.

- I'm a little...troubled by Zarek Valentin. I'm staying positive, viewing his sometimes over-ambitious passes as good ideas that might come off with better execution. He also looked a little off on his timing and coordination defensively, but I’m willing to chalk that up to rust for now...that said, I'm really looking forward to having Chris Klute available to paint a meaningful contrast.

My thoughts get looser after that, maybe even more paranoid (e.g. will Lucas Melano provide the needed defensive cover from that high left position? He pressured Seattle's defenders pretty well, but I saw him trotting back at least a couple times, which allowed Seattle’s largely effective Oniel Fisher space to roar forward). But I also respect that we’re all in preseason...

...and, again, more please.

I'll pick up again after that next preseason match, which is...Thursday night. Till then, just find yourself a nice rock to sit on and...yes, that couple's gone. Hope they cleaned up, didn't leave behind Anyway, find yourself a nice rock by the stream and just...sit with this stuff a while.

No comments:

Post a Comment