This was the question posed to me via Twitter tonight.
A simple, one-word question. “Still?”
The question comes after an exchange about whether the Timbers story post-match would be about what happened on the pitch rather than off.
The Timbers didn’t win. They played an hour of 90-minute match and then just unravelled. There’s your story.
As I’ve said repeatedly, I’m no sports analyst. I can’t tell you tactically what went wrong, though I’m learning more with every match I watch. I can offer opinions, though they may be considered naive and misguided by the uber-soccer folks.
There’s no lack of writers and analysts arguing the finer points of strategy and conditioning elsewhere on the internet. I’d be happy to point them out to you. That’s not what I do.
I could rant. I could tell you who I’d like to see traded, where I think the responsibility and blame should be placed. Doesn’t matter. Until the Timbers offer me a position as GM or coach or whatever, it just doesn’t matter.
It is what it is.
Here’s what I can tell you: I still believe.
I believe that we have the right combination of players to be successful. I believe we can – and will – win the Cascadia Cup. I believe we can still secure a playoff berth.
The tiniest part of me, a little mouse-like voice in the back of my head, believes we can lift the MLS Cup.
And I will continue to believe all of those things until such time as they may become mathematically ruled out. May. Such time as they may be ruled out.
We’re halfway through the season and we’re pretty much exactly where we were at this point last year. The difference? We want more. We expect more. We’re not getting more. We’re getting precisely what we had before.
I’m not entirely sure that’s the worst thing in the world.
I love this team. Each and every last one of them. Even the ones I don’t particularly like. If I’m being perfectly honest, I love this team more than I love some of my own family. It’s completely ridiculous. Having said that, I’ll add that I want more for them.
When I say I believe we can lift the MLS Cup, I don’t say it just because I, as a supporter, want it for bragging rights or to lord it over some other distasteful supporters group. No. I want it for my boys.
I want that moment when the Cup is handed from player to player on the pitch immediately following their hard-fought win. I want that sort of joy for them, for them to know that they’ve accomplished this grand thing. I want to see that star above the crest. I want the celebration and the parade and some sort of presentation at Pioneer Courthouse Square where we will all stand in the cold rain on a December day, thousands of us in our Ponderosa greens and our Rose City reds, all cheering our boys.
I want that like you wouldn’t believe.
But if I have to wait a bit for it, I’ll still believe.
So, the answer to the question “Still?”