I am really out of it this morning. Probably everyone in my neighborhood is, as we were all kept up until about 2:00 by the pack of morons around the corner sorting out the wretchedness of their collective lives in the street. Why do people feel the need to do this? Does it not occur to them that the vicissitudes of their personal lives should be sorted out in their own living rooms? Apparently not. Perhaps the most irritating thing about the whole affair was that the police, who I’m sure got multiple calls about the whole thing, did very little to manage the problem. As a matter of fact, what they did so closely approximates doing nothing that one might be forgiven for failing to notice the difference. They pulled up to the corner by our house about five minutes after the first round of shenanigans had cooled down, but then just sat in their car with the lights off and the motor running. Then they left. Then the whole thing started up again, and of course they were nowhere to be seen.
Having spent a couple of hours lying awake in the smalls hours, wishing that a pack of strangers would be afflicted with severe cases of gonorrhea, I am afraid that my critical faculties (to say nothing of my writing skills generally) will be somewhat blunted for this morning’s post. In truth, many of you may not notice the difference, but don’t say you weren’t warned.
Tonight’s match with the L.A. Gals will be the first of the new Gavin Wilkinson MLS Coaching Regime. We’ve seen the Gals twice so far this season, both times at the HDC, and neither one went our way. The first time around, it was a story of our defensive frailties in the last phase of matches costing us, as late goals undid the good work of Boyd’s first half opener. Then, on the 17th of June, we actually played reasonably well against them but failed to score and were undone by Donovan’s cynical pick play on Perkins.
Now they’ve got to come up to the JW and we’ll see how it goes. As a general proposition, you would think that the lads would be well up for this one. With a “new” coach in place, everyone in a Timbers shirt has to feel like the rest of the season is a long form job interview. In this bit of interview footage with David Horst it appears that the tenor of the workouts has been a little bit more relaxed than they were under Spencer, but also that communication between the defenders is being stressed. That’s a good thing. In recent matches, it seems like it’s been all too easy to discombobulate Portland’s defense, especially through the use of pick plays (which FSL used extensively on set pieces to quite good effect).
In the interview piece that follows (if you let it play beyond Horst’s comments) one hears Gavin talking about the need for leadership on the field and how the guys on the team are basically “a quiet group.” Obviously, this is something that really needs to be addressed. The character of a side is very much illustrated by how they cope with adversity. If you look at this team over the course of the first half of this season, they really haven’t coped well. It’s hard to find an instance where the guys rallied together when things started going badly.
This match will be especially challenging because we will be lacking the services of Diego Chará in midfield due to suspension. Frankly, I’m kind of relieved at the way things played out in SLC. In the later stages of that match, he really seemed like had gotten desperate and frustrated. He came in late a number of times and could easily have been sent off for violent conduct. The fact that his dismissal came for a relatively innocuous offense was probably the best result for all concerned, at least on that night. Now it leaves the team with a bit of a quandary in central midfield. I expect that the Nagbe experiment will continue in terms of the attacking midfield role, if only because there really is no one else to slot into that position. The choices for the holding position are well known. I suppose I’d favor Palmer over Jack, just because the former is a bit more mobile, but given the fact that Jack is the captain, I expect to see him there.
I think I have a bit more human sympathy for Jack than sunshine does. As a caveat, I think I have more human sympathy for most people than sunshine does, but that’s a separate issue. To return to the matter at hand, Jack works hard and he clearly takes it personally. Unfortunately, he lacks the mobility and spatial awareness of a top class midfielder, and the speed and enterprise of a successful fullback. The theory with him recently seems to have been that he has to be on the pitch because he’s the captain. Sad to say, I’m afraid that we now have better options than him at every spot on the pitch, especially since the arrival of Kimura.
Speaking of people and places, I’m wondering if there might not be a place in a rejigged formation for Hanyer Mosquera. He hasn’t been getting a lot of playing time since Futty has been reinserted into the side. My feeling at this point is that Futty and Horst are about the best center half pair the team has. It would, however, be nice to get Mosquera on. Perhaps they might experiment with putting him in the as the holding midfielder. This would probably present some unaccustomed spatial challenges for him, but his athleticism might just get him through it.
In other team news, Gavin says that Songo’o’s sore knee has been coming around and that he trained yesterday. That’s good news as, with one thing and another, he’s pretty much the best thing that this team has going in wide areas.
Well, I’m just nattering now. I need to go back to bed. Here’s hoping my neighbors are in jail now.