3 Points in L.A.!

It wasn’t pretty (except for that first 8 minutes) but we have 3 points on the road for the first time since 2015(!) and start off the season with 2 wins for the first time since… USL? The downside is that Ridgewell is still out, Vytas is still questionable, and we may have lost Guzman for the next match. and meanwhile Ridgewell. Silver lining? Farfan seems up to the task, and the LA Galaxy social media team gave us a video that was supposed to be snarky, but has the unintended effect of making Timbers fans smile like Chara… MLS is not very happy about it, although you’d think they’d spend more time worrying about consistency of the refs. We’re lucky we didn’t get a man sent off ourself.

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Opening Day Tifo

I had chance to help pull up the tifo for the first time. Glorious! How, you ask? In the chaos before the opening day kickoff, I was walking back to my section and I overheard someone say they are short handed. What luck! This year I also got back in the swing of volunteering at the tifo painting sessions. Somehow I went the entire 2016 season without helping, and I missed it. If you’ve got an extra hour or two to help out, I highly recommend it.

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Hoping for the best, but its the worst.

All the predictions are saying achilles tendon injury, which could mean the end of Nat’s career, especially at his age. We’re hoping for the best, Nat.

UPDATE: Speculation was correct. Nat Borchers did intact future his achilles tendon and will be out for the rest of the season. It’s a blow to the Timbers for sure, but a bigger one for Nat. Portland feels for you Nat!

 

 

A much needed win

That was fun, entertaining football. Even more so for the W. To say I was excited to see the lineup and formation when I learned of it right before the match is an understatement. To see Adi on the bench and JackMac on point, I knew something was up. Thing is, I hadn’t heard Powell was injured, and when I saw Valentin and Klute together… well, now you had my attention.

There were lots of top notch performances that evening, so I’ll just work my way through the lineup.

Klute and Valentin. Both performed admirably with intelligent play, good crossing, and passing. Maybe this is me just looking too hard, but I’m seeing a similar style of defending in Valentin that I saw in Jorge. I’m looking it as a good omen. Also, very happy to see Valentin do well in light of Powell’s recent play. I’m sorry Powell’s injured, but something needs to get lit under him, and some competition for LB will hopefully do that.

Nat’s had a few rough games it seems, and I’d hoped our CBs would do better to keep a clean sheet for Gleeson and Kwarsey. Unfortunately, Wondo knows how to play for a foul in the box, and Nag got dragged down holding onto Wondo’s shirt. Whoops.

I’m still holding out for Taylor to break through. I have seen some good moments and some sloppy ones.

Gleeson seems a bit larger than Kwarsey, seems on point, and… more apt to punch the ball out? I haven’t seen his play much, but I’ve heard the good things and hope to see some the good thing in the next few weeks.

Take care of yourself Adam!

Not much to say about Chara this match, did his job well. Thank you.

Now Grabavoy. I tried to pay a bit more attention to him since I haven’t really seen him play a lot, and here he is starting. It’s been a few days and I still feel generally positive. I think he could have engaged a bit more, but when he did I saw him breaking up few San Jose attacks, with decent ball movement and getting it to the attack. Let’s just say I’d like to see more of what he has to offer.

Mattocks. Another fast attacker that got the start, was excited to see his play as well. Very quick, aggressive striker it seems we have here. But that knock. Ouch. Get better.

Lucas Melano. Luca. I like that. Luca earned his paycheck this match. If he can keep it up he will get goals. That nudge to Adi for his brace, some folks have called it selfless, which it was. More than that though, it was mature. He could have taken the shot, he had the defender beat but still had to move around the keeper. Adi was to his left, with an easy goal so Melano did the right thing and nudged it to his teammate.

I thought Valeri had a pretty decent game. That is til he lost his shit and got a Red Card. Come on Diego.

JackMac! Oh you! You nearly had a brace! The goal you did put away was great. I keep thinking ‘scrappy’ when I see your play. As much as I liked Maxi when he was playing for us, he didn’t fit in as well with the ‘system’ and I see JackMac’s poaching, sneaky movement in the box a better fit than Maxi’s speedy in and out.

Captain Jack! Quite pleased to see you get some minutes and some solid play under your feet after the let down of the Dallas match. Keep it up!

Adi. Good Lord. Caleb released the Ragnarok when he subbed in Adi. I was watching in North Portland and could feel the hammer drop. This guy, his field movement, ball control, and passing all seem to have improved. Not to mention he’s still getting goals… braces even. Did he get an upgrade when playing for the Nigerian national team? Stabbing in the last goal at the death in the 9th minute of an 8 minute stoppage. How do you like that San Jose? It seemed at the end we were doing everything we could to get a draw and Adi gives us the brace for a 3-1 scoreline.

Am I allowed to literally can’t even?

Mistakes

Well, that was difficult to watch. If you haven’t seen these yet, watching them back to back is difficult as well.

Mistakes. That’s a rough birthday present.

On the positive side (I’m trying here). We got to see some of our attacking depth at work. Thanks Mattocks, we know how you love to score goals here, keep it up. Barmby almost got a header in. Alas, JackMac only came close… again.

Biggest take away is that Klute looks like he’s got himself a starting spot.

Some belated RSL thoughts

Hey, so it’s a bye week, and here are some delayed thoughts on last week’s match to tide you over until next week.

Oh RSL… what happened? I used to like you guys, and now you’re just playing like loser thugs. Two reds… come on.

Anyway, that coherent crystalline analysis that you, dear reader, have become so accustomed to in my literary meanderings has become muddled with the passage time.

I’m sure you’ll make do.

I’d like to start with Jermaine Taylor who showed up to play. His performance was noted by not only me, but by Adi as well as he passed a log slab to his teammate to loft at the end of the match. Definitely enjoyed his improved play and glad to see our depth starting to show.

As others have mentioned in various blogs relating to soccer, the Timbers, MLS, et al… Alas Powell showed up to play. Our right back let loose some rockets at the net only to see them enter orbit and never been seen again. Once he got that foot under control he seemed to get some crosses down and his hustle and speed (good lord that speed) was noticeable as he moved up and down the right flank.

Still hopeful for our attacking wingers. Come on boys.

Thought Valeri and Nagbe were decent that eve though my memory is a bit soft. Thank goodness Darlington is OK, but that was not fun to watch him try to hurry off the pitch. No sir, I did not care for that.

Chara was a bit thuggish, definitely getting under Amarikwa’s skin. 50/50 here, I like that he enforces the mid so well, just a bit too much that night.

Borchers got beat, it happens. I’ll chalk that up to an unfortunate alignment of the stars, only to happen once every other millennium.

I don’t think Valentin is ready for prime time quite yet, good at depth. Would still really, and very much so, along with you, the TA, and my kitchen sink like to see Klute in the line up.

And Liam!

RCTID!

That first loss.

So a little late this week, but it was hard to muster up the commentary after a hard fought loss.

This match reminded me of our struggles early last season. We’re there, we’re a good team, we can put the ball on target. We just got to get it past the keeper, and between the goal posts. I know, it seems like a daunting task at times, but it can be done.

IF.

The Timbers are playing well together, and it seemed a bit off against the Quakes. OK, so yeah, Amarikwa’s goal was a stunner and Wondo’s strike… well he does play on the USMNT from time to time.

All right, so let’s break down the Timbers here.

I saw Adi playing hold up, but it seems our mids had trouble getting the ball to him. Valeri and Nagbe had a few good touches, but lacked in comparison to our previous match against the Crew.

Melano and Asprilla. These guys, they’re great. I love the speed and attack they bring. If it hadn’t been for their multiple ‘almost’ attempts I’d be hard pressed to critique. That said… let’s get a little more finesse on shots, and ball movement in general.

Chara. Well he came up to help the attack and did his best to keep Amarikwa in check. Seems like he had the most solid game out of our 11.

Obviously there are still some concerns about the back line, particularly that left side. Definitely want to get that locked down. And let’s get Liam fit as well (good grief).

Quite pleased with Jack McInernery’s strike. A lovely poach, glad to see him put it in the back of the net early in the season.

Can’t say I saw much from Grabavoy, but I can’t really chalk up anything negative or positive at this point.

So looking forward, we’ve got Darren Mattocks and Jack Barmby (3 Jacks!) coming aboard. It will be interesting to see how this plays out with some depth on offense and new attacking options.

I think things are going to gel, it’s early in the season and I’ll take the 2-1 loss on the road at this point. Onward!

Well. That was exciting.

How about that for a season opener?

The crew brought their game, but the Timbers held strong. I have to say my strongest complaint is still the sting from missing Jorge in LB. To Taylor’s credit we got the W, but my jury it still out for him. I’d have really liked to have seen Klute in this match. Let’s hope he gets sorted soon.

Onto our RB, Mr. Powell… he started showing some flashes of brilliance in the 2nd half to match his speed. Here’s to hoping that those preseason matches shook all those cobwebs loose.

Very glad to see Liam back working with Nat. They gave us a number of blocks. Thanks gents. And on that note, just for grins… I almost wished we could have moved Liam to LB, but with Big Pappa gone and no CB depth /shrug

Chara. King of the midfield. Picking pockets and roaming like a boss. What else can I say?

Now onto our attacking squad. Let’s start with Valeri and Nagbe. Ball movement anyone? I think these two can get the ball wherever they want. Nagbe on the dribble just smokin’, Valeri serving it up wherever he likes, for example, a free kick for goal. Nice.

Asprilla and Melano. I’ve got high hopes for these two this year, great attacking speed. Melano had a few nice breaks that almost could have come together. Sort of reminded me of his trials when he joined the Timbers last season, but I’m noticing a bit more confidence in his play and I hope that he’s settled and the goals will come. Asprilla had a few chances as well, I would have like to have seen him convert on at least one of those. Let’s get another goalazo Dairon! Despite their offensive prowess, we’re going to have see these two up their defending a tad as well as the season continues. I’m confident they’ll step up.

Adi, played well this eve, though that yellow was bit much. That said, his hold up play is on the point, and I’ve got to say his passing game and field awareness appear to have improved. With Nagbe and Valeri behind him, and Asprilla and Melano on the wings, I think we’ve got a solid first string offense this year.

Captain Jack came on late in the game for Valeri, liked that, good call Porter. It does remind me, however, of our lack of depth. But I guess we’re still building on that. From the preseason games, I don’t think Jack Mac and Grabavoy have the communication down… something to work on I suppose. And it appears Neco Brett and Valentin were on the bench as well. Time will tell with these new additions to the squad. And let’s not forget BenZ and Gleeson providing us some true first team depth on the pine.

Anyway, here’s to a good start to a new season!

PTFC!

Oh, Canada

There’s an argument going on over at Cascadia Trifecta about whether or not the the Timbers Army rendition of the Canadian national anthem is a serious affront to Canadians and example of typical Ugly American behavior. Most feel like it’s good natured and funny. But hey, your grandpa might still be pissed off at Jimi Hendrix.

The joke’s on us I guess. The Whitecaps pretty much ran the show last night. Granted, we fielded our second team. There was one highlight though; New Whitecap Blas PĂ©rez briefly acknowledged fans heckling him near midfield. I’m not sure why he stooped so low, but he did look a little confused at the time. There were two bright spots, actually. The TA was in much better form last night.

Some Quick thoughts on the Simple Invitational with Minnesota

That first red card… meh. The second was quite deserved.

Asprilla is looking for another goalazo, of which I have no complaints.

Would have liked to have seen Klute in the LB spot, but good to see Valentin’s play. Definitely going to be interesting to see how that plays out.

Nice seeing Valeri and Nagbe working up front, and Melano seems a bit more settled.

I didn’t really notice anything from our new CB, Taylor, but I’m chalking that up as a positive.

Would have preferred a larger line change at the half given the red cards. It’s a common complaint of Porter that he doesn’t sub early enough, and in this match in particular it would have been nice to see those 75min subs come in earlier and check out their work rate. Especially Jack Mac’s.

All in all I enjoyed the hustle. Just stop fouling the Maestro.