There’s that old saying about soccer being a cruel game. The traditional meaning of the saying may not be apropos for what went down on Saturday evening between the Portland Timbers and Chivas USA, but there was indeed cruelty. It was inflicted upon the eyes of those who watched the game. From a first half performance that could charitably be called absymal to a stadium that housed the fewest fans for any MLS regular season game in more than six years to an opposing team that could charitably called absymal, it was an ugly and frustrating affair that has brought us all a step closer to the reality that the Timbers are in a serious scrap just to make the playoffs. It is a scrap that wouldn’t be as serious at this point if the team could have somewhere along the way gotten over the hump to turn road draws against lesser opponents into victories. Continue reading
1. Not quite as expected
If we played Toronto every week, there might not be any forests left in the Pacific Northwest.
If you were a neutral fan who didn’t watch the game, a 4-0 scoreline would not be a surprise. The Portland Timbers haven’t lost at home since March. Toronto FC has been in a season-long free fall that has lasted for as long as the club has been in existence. A four-goal drubbing would fit the narrative, especially the chapter about Toronto being abysmal. If you watched the match, however, you would know it was a different story. It was a Timbers side that limped into the match, weighed down by injuries and questions against a Toronto team that was game to get a result for much of the evening. It was a game that heading into the final 10 minutes looked like it could have just as easily ended in a draw with the Timbers looking tired and Toronto lurking around the goal. And then those final 10 minutes were played and order was restored to the universe. The floodgates opened, Toronto channeled a franchise-worth of futility, and the only question that remained for the Timbers was whether the chainsaw would cut all the wood cookies in time for the post-match honors. Continue reading
1. A Battle worthy of a Derby
In the grand scheme of things, it was just one of 34 games this season. There were the same rules in play and the same points at stake as, say, an early season match against New England. With all of the hype and the animosity and attention, however, it wasn’t an ordinary game to the supporters nor was it an ordinary game to the players and clubs involved. Need proof? How many times this season have you seen a Portland Timbers goalkeeper in the opposition’s box trying to score a goal at the end of a game? Never. This was a Cascadia Cup derby that both sides wanted badly and it was one played at a skill level and intensity that was worthy of the 1,500 traveling supporters and the 60 thousand something who turned out for Seattle. It was a contest that tastes bitter in defeat but was also one in which you cannot question the effort of the losing side that was playing without its captain and without its workhorse in the center of the pitch. It was a contest that could just as easily resulted in three points instead of the disappointing zero if first half opportunities had been converted. The loss might feel heavy but there is still a lot at stake this season for a team that has shown it is willing and capable of playing for the badge. Continue reading
1. RSL defeat Portland 3-3
Here are your three points.
Everything was seemingly coming up roses. Real Salt Lake was missing three of its key players. The Portland Timbers were playing at their home stadium which they have made a fortress this season. A depleted RSL was playing a man down. The Timbers were buoyed by a late goal that put an exclamation mark on a comeback in a game that was as crazy as any that have been played in recent memory. The top of the table was looking so sweet ahead of a derby match this weekend. And then…you know what happened. You can talk about the cruelty of soccer, but this was a cruel let down from a team that has rarely let us down this season. This was a case of a team that has been opportunistic throughout 2013 failing to take advantage of an opportunity that was served gift wrapped and served on a Supporters Shield platter. This was a self-inflicted loss disguised as a draw. Continue reading
1. Live by the tie, die by the tie
After leaving the stadium on Saturday night I walked past a gentleman who was three sheets to the wind and standing outside one of the lesser establishments on Burnside. He asked me who won the Timbers game. I said it was a tie. He then asked, “What does that mean?” To which I replied, “You haven’t watched many Timbers games this season, have you?” For the 11th time in 22 games, the Timbers came away with a draw. Unlike the draw that they gained against the same Cascadia Cup rival a couple months ago north of the border, this one did not leave the faithful dancing in the aisles and talking about the team’s amazing resolve. This one felt different. In a game that was a rugby match interspersed with the occasional moments of soccer, there was a victory at home that was there for the taking and it was an injury- and suspension-depleted opponent that responded when it faced adversity. It was not a game that leads one in search of a panic button to hit, but it does raise some questions about the trajectory the Portland Timbers have taken over the past month. Continue reading
1. Familiar foes, different ways to go
Meeting for the third time this season on Saturday evening, the differences between the way the Portland Timbers and San Jose Earthquakes approach the game of soccer couldn’t have been clearer. The Timbers follow the death by a thousand cuts approach, slicing their opponents apart through quick passes. The Earthquakes go for the kill by wildly swinging a big axe in the form of long crosses that they hope will eventually land a fatal blow. The Quakes’ style won the night on Saturday on a home pitch that seems well suited for the big blow style of soccer. It was a disappointing result for a Timbers side that saw three of its top competitors in the Western Conference lose on the same day. And while you can point to some of the successes generated by San Jose’s game plan, it is also easy to attribute the Timbers third loss of the season to wounds that were self-inflicted. Continue reading
Timbers fan Wayne Garcia pulling double duty on tv.
You know the deal by now. Point on the road and three points at home. Yawn. So predictable and so successful. In 8 of their 11 matches away from Jeld-Wen Field this season, the Portland Timbers have come away with a draw. On Saturday, playing in 90-something heat on the other side of the continent, it was a draw against Philadelphia in a match that felt like it should have resulted in more for the Timbers, but in fairness was probably the proper result. It was a game where the Timbers largely imposed their possession game on the home side, but where the home side also showed that in the game of soccer there are many approaches that can lead to the same result. Oh, and we got to watch a little bit of Cops. Who says a scoreless soccer game is boring?