plus ça change! or for those of you who speak american: the more things change, the more they stay the same. but today, i consider the acceptance of my inherent tendency for dour behavior, awarded to me by my french heritage, not as disillusionment with the side but an understanding that things just are what they are. the timbers are not the galaxy–they do not have three exceptionally talented world-class designated players they can rely on to change the course of a game. what the timbers are is a side experiencing the pains of a sophomore campaign. and we should expect only results consistent with that definition.
last night, the timbers controlled possession, completed more passes with greater accuracy, and had more chances on goal than the galaxy. oh, and they scored 3 goals. yet they lacked a bit of luck necessary to make that perceived dominance on paper a reality on the pitch.
i did not expect gavin to work miracles this week. nor do i expect him to work miracles the remainder of the season. he is the general manager and the interim coach, working to create some stability in a side that knows only inconsistency. but from the moment i reviewed the starting eleven, i knew things had not changed. spencer’s boys were still guaranteed starting positions and wonky formations were employed. which is to say that if you keep doing things the same way, do not expect the results to be any different from before.
the match started out rather well. within 3 minutes the timbers had the lead off an early goal from kris boyd. our attack on the right had been fortified with the return of kalif alhassan. and quickly we were reminded of the difference his play on the right makes. kalif found the ball at his feet following an outswinging corner kick by steven smith. he did what ever boy dreams of doing–he kicked the ball into beckham’s grille. the ball took a wicked ricochete, eventually ending up with jewsbury. jewsbury rightly put the ball back to kalif, who stood beckham up and delivered the finest cross i have seen a timber deliver this season. he zipped a curled ball around beckham to boyd who turned on the ball to pot it past a flailing josh saunders. 1-0 the timbers.
the timbers then controlled possession for the next 15 minutes. they strung together some nice passes, but were wholly ineffective at penetrating the stolid galaxy defense. unfortunately, with all that possession the timbers concentration began to lapse. easy turnovers were made in a midfield geared more for defensive play than holding play. regardless of what the 80% pass completion stats suggest, many of their passes were easily intercepted by the galaxy.
we have seen time and time again, putting #facepalmer in the starting eleven only handicaps the side. if he is not running around like a headless chicken, he stands in awe, watching the opposing side’s designated players. he is a liability. and for 45 minutes last night he crippled the timbers midfield and defense.
i am an advocate for closing down players in the midfield, especially when they are on the ball and are known to have a great outside shot. i am an advocate for putting a solid tackle on a fella, or a shoulder to knock off the ball. i am also an advocate of playing some form, any form, of defense that disrupts the opposition’s flow and possession. so when landycakes flicked the ball back to hector jimenez and continued his run forward, i was perplexed to see #facepalmer follow him when the ball was still in possession of the galaxy midfield corps. he failed to chase a ball passed within 10 feet of his position. instead, he disregarded his duties as a defensive midfielder, which is to break up play, pointed to eric alexander, who was positioned 20 feet off david beckham, to close down the ball. without question, alexander should have instinctively moved towards beckham, but it was palmer’s failure to do what is expected of his position that lead to beckham’s jaw-dropping goal in the 20 minute.
david beckham impersonates david beckham better than any other person i know. probably better than any person he knows. beckham knows beckham and he strains to show the world that he is beckham, because, well, he is beckham. if the goal he scored against the timbers during the first game in la was not a lesson in the necessity to close him down, his goal last night certainly was. perhaps the reasons for closing him down were best defined in the arrogant stance he took after scoring that goal. if only to avoid that happening in the jw, close him down.
but wow. wow. that goal was beautiful. in fact it was so beautiful it was deadly. it eviscerated the timbers. after standing for a minute in a mixture of disbelief, admiration and amazement, i turned to my seat neighbor and said these words: the timbers will lose 4-1. if you do not believe me, he can tell you–he reads this blog. and sure enough, the timbers proceeded to give the game away.
five minutes after his first strike, david beckham again impersonated david beckham. in a build up to a free kick, landycakes took a tumble that should win him an academy award. i know as americans we should support american players. landycakes is an exception to that unwritten rule. he is a diver. a cheat. and an arrogant prick. as magadh wished gonorrhea on his neighbors, i would wish something similar on the hair club for men posterboy. his tumble was in response to a slight nudge by kosuke kimura. typical defending. but landycakes fell to the ground, crumpled up, and pretended to be hurt until the free kick was awarded. job done.
if there was something the timbers could do to prevent the first goal, there was nothing they could have done to prevent the second. it was a masterclass free kick curled around a suspect wall of bodies into the lower righthand corner of the goal. perkins made an attempt to grab it, but that ball was in the net the moment beckham kicked it.
seven minutes later a controversial penalty was awarded to the galaxy. stephens took a pass from todd dunivant and pushed the ball into the center of the box. kimura ran back to cover and collided with the gals midfielder. he did make contact and it was in the box, but stephens no longer had control of the ball. when contact was made, the ball was a good 7 feet away from stephens. kimura’s collision did not prevent stephens from a goal scoring opportunity–he did not have control of the ball. i guess we will have to ask the ref on that one. landycakes converted from the spot and the timbers were down 3-1.
one minute on and the galaxy made it 4-1. with possession and moving the ball on the leftside touchline, smith turned the ball over at midfield. a quick transition saw landycakes on the ball. horst attempted to intercept donovan, but was pushed to the ground by the midget. shockingly, no foul was called. perhaps it was because david horst is enormous and landycakes is, well, landycakes, but donovan bowled over horst in the same way kimura did that lead to the galaxy’s second goal. regardless, donovan slid in a superb cross to robby keane, who tapped in to put the galaxy up 4-1. as if i needed more reason to hate that ex-spud, keane, his goal celebration sealed my opinion of his as a douchebag. nothing gets my ire up like a cartwheel-summersault-spring-up-with-guns-ablazing celebration, and that it was performed by that ex-spud who shot his guns towards 112 made it even more unbearable.
if you were not at the match and you are reading this, you might think the play is now in minute 68. but you would be wrong–only 29 minutes had passed. yes, it was long.
but wait, there is more! somehow, somewhere, the timbers dug into a reserve of heart that we supporters failed to realize existed. 5 minutes following the escapade of douchebaggery, kimura pulled back a goal. boyd drilled a free kick from 20 yards out. it was low and fast, and admittedly difficult to handle. saunders bobbled and an on-rushing kimura latched onto the deflected ball to put the timbers back in the match. 4-2 into the half.
gavin did address his mistake at half time, replacing the ineffective palmer with brent richards. i like richards. i think he is an absolute talent that will be great for the timbers in the future. but for all his energy and drive, his youth was exploited last night. on the 64 minute, beckham placed a nice pass down the touchline to sean franklin who had moved inside and behind richards. richards made a poor stab at the pass, but it was for nought. franklin took the ball in stride and copied donovan’s cross to keane in the first half. 5-2 and keane had the audacity to perform that celebration a second time. did i mention i hope he loses a limb? just making that clear.
six minutes later another free kick is set up for boyd to take. his free kicks may not be the things of beauty and grace we might associate with beckham, pirlo, or henry, but last night they got the job done. with jewsbury standing over the ball, it was teed up for boyd to drill hard and low into the left corner of the net. saunders looked upset about the goal but there really was nothing he could do to prevent it from happening. 5-3 with 20 minutes remaining. too bad the timbers failed to capitalize on the switch of momentum. the only remarkable event to occur following that goal was alexander’s well placed professional foul on landycakes. well done eric!
there were several frustrating aspects of this match. first, the defense was a collective non-entity. i may give kimura a pass due to his commitment to the cause, but horst and mosquera were terrible. clearly they are not on the same page and unable to communicate with each other. on the left, smith was caught out too many times. most notable was the moment that lead to keane’s hateful first goal.
next, nagbe. enough said? yeah, he was yet again poor. which made the 90 minute substitution for zizzo so galling. that was a substitution that should have occurred 30 minutes earlier, but did not. the timbers were down 5-3 at 70 minutes, yet gavin kept darlington in the match. the only time a substitution at 90 minutes should be made is when the side is in the lead and wants to waste time.
overlooking those frustrations, i walked away from the jw with some pride in the team. down 4-1 in 28 minutes they had every reason to be dejected and look at their boots for the remainder of the match. instead, they picked themselves up and fought. kimura was instrumental with bringing the side back into the game. regardless of his emotional badge pounding moment, he attacked the gals when they were on the ball, he supported his teammates when necessary, and he was vocal. until kimura’s arrival, i had not seen one defensive player direct the offside trap. but there kimura was, motioning with his arms and his positioning, telling horst and mosquera where to be in relation to each other. that got me. i might have a man crush on our new acquisition.
in any event, this loss was not as difficult to stomach as the real salt lake debacle. the timbers tried despite the efforts of the officials to hand a game to the ambassadors of the mls. and that is all we as supporters can ask of them. sure, the more things change the less they change, but here i think our perspectives have.
enjoy your sunday. i am off to exploit the generosity of adidas…