right arm ok? check. left arm ok? check. eyes? check and check. heart still beating? check. ok, i can safely say that i have survived the drama of earlier this week and can now get back to writing about the timbers as a team. and perhaps their opponents for this saturday.
when upheavals and crises occur it is often easy to forget that life does go on. no, i am not taking this post to a spiritual place (though i could recommend a couple marriane williamson books for you if your soul still suffers over the sacking). i simply think we have dwelt upon the demise of spencer long enough. sure, it might be difficult for some to accept, after all, he was the first mls coach portland has known and he was a minor institution, if not severely recognizable on the streets. but, to paraphrase the great t.s. eliot, coaches come and go. and this one has gone.
in the interim, gavin has assumed his spot as coach and seems to be making some changes. dare i say i like them? next to a big-piss-off centerback, my favorite type of player is a vocal player–a player who yells, a player who directs his team towards a goal, a player who alerts his teammates of what is happening on the pitch, outside of their vision. while it is beautiful to watch a screaming goal curled around a keeper and into the upper far corner, i will take a grafter every day of the week and perhaps into the next. i think a month or so ago one of the authors of this blog mentioned that, with the exception of perkins, not one player spoke on the pitch or took responsibility to motivate his teammates. that, my friends, suggests a distinct and surprising lack of leadership. and gavin is addressing that issue. when asked yesterday about the immediate changes he has instituted with the side, gavin was quick to talk about communication:
I think that we are a very quiet group and I think that for a while everyone has spoken about leadership and it is a matter of making sure that everybody takes a little bit of responsibility, which I believe had been a work in progress. Today it is just a matter of getting everybody talking, everybody communicating, everybody showing a little bit more as well.
if it was not clear enough already, i could not agree more. while the human race has evolved rather significantly in the last 300-400 years, making advances in neuro and chemical and mechanical sciences that might shock leonardo da vinci, it still has failed to improve the burgeoning growth of telepathic communication. football is not a game that can be played without communicating. so, until our brains mutate to twice the size of carl sagan’s and stephen hawking’s combined intelligence, footballers are going to have to yell for what they want. and youngster, danny mwanga, agreed that an improvement in communication was needed:
He is encouraging us to be very vocal. I think that is very important for us.
it was also interesting to hear gavin’s comments about the younger players. while specifically discussing kalif and his improvement from injury, it was clear gavin was pointing to every young player on the side. he wants to see them assert themselves within the game. i doubt he is alone in that desire. the trick is getting them to do just that. too often i have seen darlington shrink within a game rather than seize any opportunity to showcase his talents. i have come to expect him to either run into a defender or to perform a useless back pass. either way, he has contributed very little in recent games. so, i would agree, certain younger players must impose themselves on the game and within the team.
and no time like the present, because a resurgent la galaxy will be in portland on saturday. as if that was not enough, the david beckham circus will also make an appearance. after winning the espy and a couple games off for behavioral issues following a late loss to san jose, beckham will be back in the side for the gals. while it may increase the galaxy’s power of whingeing, his return certainly increases the firepower of a team that has scored 15 goals in their last 7 matches.
it also appears their road form has improved since giving up the game in san jose. robby (spud) keane returned early from a disappointing european championship to lead the gals to an impressive 2-0 win over chicago, scoring a brace in the process. spud. as much as i dislike him for obvious associations with tottenham, keane is a weapon the gals sorely missed over the last couple months and one i fear–his movement on the left for the galaxy during the first match against the timbers was exceptionally good.
the timbers have seen the galaxy twice now and have fared poorly both times. in the most recent match, the timbers saw todd dunivant score from a set piece after that one thoughtless moment. you might remember–the moment when, rather than playing to the whistle, perkins claimed he was shoved or impeded by the midget who cannot admit he is losing his hair. yeah, that moment. regardless of a rather anemic attack and some incredibly poor play on chewy’s part, that moment sealed the game for the galaxy and continued the timbers road woes.
encouragingly, the timbers are at the jw on saturday. given the timbers recent home form, it would appear the gals could be considered underdogs. however, that would assume the timbers have a full squad, which they do not. they are still without some key components to those sides that defeated seattle and san jose. kalif is still working through an injury sustained in june, and chara is out due to his behavioral issues. songo’o is fit and trained yesterday, but i do not expect to see him start after a lay off with a knee strain. the timbers need him for another 18 matches, so sacrificing his health for one match in order to avoid the inevitable “spencer effect” claims would be rash.
as far as the team that will step foot on the pitch, i am not going to make any other predictions than this: chara will not play and perkins will be in goal. with those predictions made, what gavin will do with the rest of the personnel is a mystery.
and that is about that…enjoy your day.