On the 13th of November, 1988, I got about the worst mohawk of my life. Now, there are many of you out there who might think that there is no such thing as a good mohawk, and maybe at this point I might agree. But in those days, during which my attire tended to feature Doc Martens and a leather jacket with a big old Heresy design painted on the back, it seemed appropriate. You might also be wondering how it is that I can remember the date. Well, we’ll get to that in a minute.
Anyway, the mohawk was bad. It was, as I recall, slightly askew, the product of the kind of tonsorial imprecision that swilling Blitz by the gallon will provoke. When I woke up in the morning, I immediately thought better of it and shaved it down to the short crop of the rest of my hair. In those days, I lived in a ramshackle pad on Southeast 22nd (long since demolished), right across the street from the Fred Meyer distribution center. That Monday morning, I made my way up toward the little red schoolhouse on Woodstock Blvd., walking up Gladstone past the rat-infested shell of the old boiler factory, past Sunshine Recycling, and then around the corner at the Glad Tav on to 28th St.
In those days, people in Eastmorland were pretty inured to the presence of weirdos tromping through the neighborhood. Aside from the aforementioned school, the industrial area lying along 26th between Holgate and the golf course was the kind of place where transients could kip pretty much undisturbed. I hadn’t gone but a few blocks down 28th, though, before I noticed that something was different. As I came up to the intersection of 28th and Holgate, some guy rolled down the window of his car and shouted, “F%#@ you, skinhead!” I thought this was a little strange. Being a punk rocker in those days meant that you tended to catch a bit of abuse on the streets, but I figured that even with my aggressively short haircut the straights could tell the difference between a punk and a skin. I ignored the guy, but as I continued down the street the abuse kept coming. It seemed like every fourth car that passed someone had something to say, mostly of a rather unpleasant nature. I just chalked it up to a mean day in the Rose City.
It wasn’t until I got to school and bought a copy of the Oregonian that I figured out what was going on. The night before, Ken Mieskie and his merry moronic East Side White Pride buddies had murdered Mulugeta Seraw over on 31st and Pine. I remember thinking how unbelievably horrible it was…and how this was a really bad time for this haircut.
What, you may ask, is my point here? Only that there are times in life when a poor decision is magnified by a turn of events beyond our control.
As the early days of this season have progressed, the Timbers have seen a lot of good work compromised by failures in technique and leadership. By now, one would have hoped that the team would have worked its way into some kind of form. Although there are some signs of improvement, the good ship Timbers is still leaking, and it is in this moment that we find ourselves confronted with the sternest test so far this season. Sporting KC are the hottest thing in the league right now. They’ve yet to lose a match so far this season, and until they gave up a consolation goal to the Whitecaps on Wednesday, they hadn’t conceded on in 415 minutes. In addition to their reasonably comfortable dispatching of Vancouver midweek, they have also beaten the Galaxy and RSL in recent weeks. The Timbers can take some comfort that this one will be contested within the friendly confines of Jeld-Wen Field. From pretty much any other perspective that one could think of, this is a bad time to be coming up against Sporting.
KC’s offense has centered around the goal scoring of Kamara and Sapong in the weeks of the season so far. Both have collected just about half their respective goal totals for last season in the first seven games of the current term. Graham Zusi has come into his own in the middle of the park, and it will be incumbent on Portland’s midfielders to get physical with him and disrupt his game. Otherwise, this could be a long and painful evening. This is especially true given the grinding style the KC likes to play. There will be a lot of fouls, probably not the thing you want to hear with so many folks hovering around the injured list. On the other hand, this might be the type of match that really suits a guy like Kris Boyd. He’s played nearly three hundred matches in the SPL, one of the roughest leagues in Europe. (From the numerous SPL matches that I have seen, the league motto seems to be, “No Quarter Asked, None Given.”) Anyway, our lads had better lace their boots up tight because, one way or another, this is likely to be a pretty rough ride.
Now, having drained the cup of foreboding to its dregs, my commitment to fair and balanced blogging prompts me to take not of the excellent post put up by Andrew over at Stumptown Footy (here) which makes a number of important points. Point 1: There’s no point in panicking just yet. As Andrew quite correctly notes, the sample size, both in terms of this season and of the overall history of the team, is rather small. Another excellent point is that Kris Boyd is still really learning to work with the team. I think that, more generally, one might point out that there has been a lot of shifting going on, what with injuries and the need to find the most effective (or maybe a minimally effective) organization for the team in terms of personnel and formation.
At all events, I choose to remain optimistic. There will be time enough to feel bad about things when and if the bad things come to pass. Why waste time on it now?