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Monthly Archives: May 2013

The good news and the bad news.

Here’s all the good news:

The road curse is broken. We can win on the road. We didn’t today, but it still felt like we did.

This is a team that will fight back. They go down a goal and they find a way to pull one back. Tonight, they did this twice. TWICE.

This new Timbers team has learned to adjust. Early injury, stupid red card, flailing-diver-Camilo-shenanigans: none of it seemed to matter. It was all taken in stride. Adjustments were made and a point was earned.

So, here we are, a third of the way through the season. One of our TA elders pointed out to me a few days ago that, should the Timbers continue on their current path, they will finish the season with only three losses. I think this is both ridiculous and, after watching tonight’s game, possible.

I watched the game today in the company of one of Portland’s most elusive bloggers. The Timbers were down by one when He Who We Call By Another Name predicted a 2-1 scoreline.

“Them? Or us?” I asked.

He was pretty confident that we’d win but I, as I was in full stormcloud mode, wasn’t so sure. Odds are we’re going to lose again eventually. We agreed we’d rather not have that loss come during a Cascadia Cup match.

And there’s the bulk of the bad news: at some point, this team is going to lose a match. And we’re all going to come undone. And I’ll probably take a short sabbatical from social media because y’all are crazy.

But, for now, I’m going to enjoy this. It’s fun, isn’t it?

Thorns tomorrow. Timbers U23s on Tuesday. If I don’t see you at one, I’ll expect to see you at the other.

Onward, Rose City.

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Posted by on May 18, 2013 in Timbers 2013

 

Finding love: who will be The One?

He’s asked me again. The same question, now for the third time.

“I know you say there will never be another Boyd, but….” He pauses and I know what he’s trying to get at.

Who’s my guy? There’s always one, right? One that stands out. One for whom I become something of a (literal and figurative) standard-bearer.

I don’t have one. I have players I like. I have players I’m disappointed aren’t playing. I don’t have The One.

And I don’t know when or if one will set himself apart and become The One.

***

I was asked last week to write player ratings for the Chivas match for a footy website and, after explaining to the editor in no uncertain terms that I know NOTHING about soccer, he insisted and I relented.

It isn’t something I’m comfortable with. I rarely read player ratings and, when I do, it’s the most cursory of readings. I know enough to talk about heart and passion and I can give a brief, surface-level opinion on individual performances of players, but I’m not confident about doing any sort of in-depth analysis. There are absolutely better people for this particular gig (as was pointed out to me by people on Twitter) but, the opportunity presented itself and, after arguing with both myself and the editor, I took it.

I don’t know if it’s something I’ll do again anytime soon. The ratings that are up on the site are heavily edited; that’s just the nature of the business. Anyone who reads my stuff with any regularity will be able to easily extract which parts are mine and which were added in post. Plenty of special effects in that particular piece. I don’t say this to complain, I’m happy to have had the experience. First press credential since the mid ’90s.

What does this have to do with me deciding, or letting my silly, emotional, fickle heart choose The One?

Well, that, in and of itself, is my version of a player rating. Ridiculous, but true.

So here, Nomad rates the players:

Donovan Ricketts
I like him. I like him more and more. And yes, I will vote for him every single time he’s up for Save of the Week. I know this is considered homerism and is uncouth, but it’s one of the few things I can do to give him any indication of how much I appreciate him.

He came to us injured last season and got dropped into the middle of a hurricane of hostility. “Upgrade” became an insult, one I myself hurled more than once. And there is no apology big enough for me to issue to good Mr. Ricketts.

He started off the season a bit stiff, slow to commit and even slower to get up when he went to ground. But he has gained confidence, he has regained presence, and he has become really interesting to watch.

Andrew Jean-Baptiste
I don’t know. He’s a big kid and he’s still learning but I just don’t know. I wasn’t able to pinpoint anything in the Chivas match that really made him stand out and I’m still remembering how he got played by Blas in Dallas. He’ll get there, but he’s got work to do.

Jack Jewsbury
Here’s an I Told You So: I was one of the ones calling for him to give up the armband last year. He wasn’t carrying the captaincy the way I would like to have seen it carried. And, as it turns out, I was right that he shouldn’t be captain.

I will naively say now that I think it weighed him down, though that’s not how I saw it at the time. With that weight lifted and with a shift in his on-pitch placement, he’s been freed to do the things he needs to do, the things he’s most comfortable doing. And it’s working. He looks younger, more energized. He looks like he’s having more fun.

(A side note here: I’m not referring to him as the “club captain.” I still don’t know what that means. As far as I’m concerned, he’s the cruise director from now on. Cruise director = fun. And he’s definitely having fun.)

Michael Harrington
I love Mikey. I love him because he’s funny on Twitter and he has crazy hair and, despite the fact that he was worn out early in the Chivas match, he just kept going.

Mikey’s usually good for one or two oopses in each match and Chivas was no different. But the thing with Mikey is that his mistakes are mostly minor, he knows when he makes them and he doesn’t hide from them. He just gets back in the game.

Futty Danso
Damn, Futty. Why were you spending so much time on the bench?

I had to go back and watch a replay of the match to do the original ratings mostly because I spent most of this game watching Futty. After the expected backbones of our back line (now THERE’S a terrible turn of phrase) have been sidelined by injury, he has stepped in and skillfully picked up the slack.

I thought he was done. A few minutes here or there as a sub, maybe a few reserves matches, and then shuffled off somewhere or retired. But he’s doing the job that needs to be done and is bringing confidence and a bit of calm with him. I like that.

Will Johnson
I thought Will was uncharacteristically quiet in the Chivas match. He was here. He put in a full shift. He did what he does best: he took no crap from anyone.

And then something snapped. A really good chance at a goal and then a really good goal. After that first chance, I would have come away shocked if he hadn’t followed it up with at least one more. And he did, and it became a nominee for MLS Goal of the Week.

Diego Valeri
Valeri, like Harrington, looked tired, but kept moving. He’s like a dancer; he moves with grace and finesse, with the self-assured confidence of a bullfighter (yes, I know bullfighting has been outlawed in Argentina for over a century).

I dare you not to picture him in a matador’s costume. Go on. Try not to. I win.

Diego Chara
Diego Chara is Diego Chara. I don’t think he can help it. He continues to be Diego Chara regardless of what’s happening elsewhere in the world or on the pitch. And I’m fine with that.

Ryan Johnson
He’s good and he’s going to get better, but there’s a part of me that hopes he never loses a bit of a rough edge or his ability to channel the Dike Smash we’ve been missing whilst the actual Dike is out with injuries.

(For the record, my definition of “Dike Smash” is very different than the one that wound up in the post on the other site.)

Darlington Nagbe
Dear Darlington,

Please prove me wrong, one way or the other, and let’s be done with it.

I’ve said all along that I know you have the talent, but you seem to have some other sort of block that’s preventing you from accessing said talent. In addition to that, stop being a delicate flower. Try not to get pushed off the ball so much. You’re better than that.

Rodney Wallace
I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.

As previously stated here and on Twitter, I’ve talked a line of shit about RodWall, but he’s a third of the way through what will be recorded as a break-out year for him. His skills are showing where they weren’t quite as obvious before. And, looking back, I can absolutely appreciate his attitude while waiting for his turn to come.

Kalif Alhassan
I dunno. Jazz hands.

Ben Zemanski
I wasn’t sure about him, but he’s growing on me. I just wonder if he suffers from the same affliction that Eric Alexander had: the ability to start and be really good but to falter as a late-game sub when he doesn’t settle in fast enough. Let’s notch a few more wins and then give him the start, okay?

Frederic Piquionne
I loved him in Dallas. He’s a tornado. And, as much as I love to see that burst of energy as a late-game sub, I’d put him in the eleven against Vancouver.

So, there it is. Apologies if there appear to be some words missing. WordPress just tried to give me a heart attack.

***

And, after all of that, I still don’t have The One.

 
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Posted by on May 18, 2013 in Timbers 2013

 

Wishing.

Sometimes we forget.

We get caught up in the day to day drama, the Twitter squabbles, the trade rumors, the silliness, and we forget.

We forget the simple fact that, while we may have all come together to watch a few soccer games, what’s been created here is about much, much more than a game.

I’m going to steal a few words from my friend Matthew here: I spent part of my day today with 3,000 of my friends in what he endearingly likened to a cheesy ’80s sports movie. And it was amazing.

There’s a little boy in Portland named Atticus. He’s eight and was diagnosed with cancer some time back. But he’s a neat kid, a strong kid, and he’s fought back and, when Make-A-Wish offered to grant him a wish, he didn’t want something for himself. He wanted something for his soccer team.

And today, in Portland, the Portland Timbers and their Timbers Army delivered.

I’ve waxed poetic here before about my absolute love for this club and this Army, but this went above and beyond anything I’ve yet experienced with either.

In the middle of the day on a Wednesday, when most of us should have been at work, 3,000 people filled the North End of Jeld-Wen Field to see Atticus’ team, the Green Machine, take on the Timbers.

The scoreline didn’t match the effort on the field, with the Green Machine narrowly edging out the Timbers just before the final whistle. It was obvious to everyone, despite the Timbers fielding a side that included national team players and Olympians, that the Green Machine was the superior team. Heart, courage, teamwork. We could all take a few cues from Atticus and his teammates.

I’ve tried in the past to explain this community to people who see it from the outside and I’ve failed miserably. This is about more than being a sports fan, about more than keeping track of your team’s wins or losses. This is about…everything.

Again, I’m at a loss for words. So, in lieu of anything more from me, I’ll give you the links to the stuff that’s good.

Deadspin

The Timbers match recap.

Stumptown Footy’s ref report.

The only time I’ll ever link to a Cubbie story for a good reason.

A little thing our friend Wayne Garcia put together for Fox12.

And this. This will make you cry.


Thank you, Timbers. Thank you, Timbers Army.

I love you.

 
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Posted by on May 1, 2013 in Timbers 2013

 

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