Saturday, January 28, 2017

Portland Timbers 0-2 New York Red Bulls: Picking Through a (Meaningless) Mess

Timbers = All the people. And the pig. No winners.
Because there’s not a lot to say about the Portland Timbers 2-0 preseason loss to the New York Red Bulls, this won’t take long. In fact, I have only one real question to ask:

Yeah, yeah, this is preseason, but why did Portland look that much more like the team in preseason mode?

To speculate, it could have something to do with the strength/organizational integration of the Red Bulls’ academy; it’s also worth wondering whether Red Bulls II's 2016 (rather impressive looking) USL title lent them that telling little extra bit of coherence. The lesson from the former suggests that, maybe the Timbers organization ought to get crackin’ on its own academy. As for the later, yeah, Red Bulls II not only won last year’s USL title, they picked up 29 points more than Timbers 2 during the season.

As pointed out during the stream, New York could have won by 3-0, or even 4-0. Second stanza ‘keeper Kendall McIntosh probably played the biggest role in preventing that outcome. Overall, though, I found the incoherence mildly concerning at most, with a series of bad decisions, particularly at the back, nipping at its heels. More fundamentally, though, this is precisely why teams play preseason games – i.e., to, in in the spirit of Stumptown Footy’s title, to shake off the rust.

There were some bright spots: Diego Chara played a nice pass into Diego Valeri (who’s touch looked a little off; again, preseason); Alvas Powell almost set up Darren Mattocks, and with the kind of pass/cross that feels he’s better suited to make (more grass-cutter than lofted cross); and new kid, Marco Farfan, put in a great surging run from left back that speaks well to where the kid’s head is at (e.g., a good place).

There’s one other player I want to point out, a kid who’s hard to miss when he’s on the field: Dylan Damraoui. He stood out, as much as any Timber last night, as having the cleanest approach to the game, or, to borrow a cliché, Damraoui seemed to know what he was about out there. It’s the first time I’d seen the kid play, so I’m not saying start him or anything; but I am saying his play would have stood out last night, even without the explosion of hair atop his head.

Maybe growing up in Belgium helps?

All on this one. And, to sort of layout a plan (and take seriously the potential for burnout*), I’ll probably merely note preseason results in passing until, oh…let’s go with the last two preseason games. There’s too much chaos, at this point, to make much sense out of what’s going on.

All for now.

(* For what it’s worth, I genuinely believe my interest slips toward the end of every season. I’m taking (mental) steps to change that, but I can’t promise that’ll change anything.)


  1. Yep, NYRB in this scrimmage looked a level above the three sets of players we sent out. I gather it's due in part to the USL winning NYRB group carrying over to this winter. But some of it seemed to be NYRB players who, on the individual level, just looked better than our T2'ers and unsigned hopefuls. Going by a game sample size of one, the RB's will start the season much further along than the Timbers.

    I too, fixiated first on Damraoui's Sly Stone afro, but quickly noted that for last night, he was a creative, energetic and unintimidated footballer. Stood out in a sea of off-kilter Timbers.

  2. Out of curiosity, had you seen Damraoui play before last night?

    1. "It’s the first time I’d seen the kid play..."

    2. That was directed at Nedwell...(I wrote the post). Nedwell's leavin' me hangin'...

  3. Jeff- Sorry, I go away from the blogosphere for hours/days at a time. Sign of the unconnected age I grew up in.
    No, I hadn't seen Damraoui before this. My eye is always caught by players who don't play with fear or hesitation in trial situations like this game.