i have it on good authority that late yesterday evening george clooney entered discussions with his attorneys regarding options for legal recourse against the timbers. evidently he was so disgusted by the timbers display against chivas he thought it would be poor publicity to be associated with them, even if that association is a remote allusion to one of his less popular movies. it seems that comedy is respected only in movie theaters, not football pitches. and for a professional football team to flippantly employ paranormal tactics developed in iraq through the efforts of men who stared goats to death, the line was drawn when the timbers attempted to do just that.
the timbers were down in the land of chivas with a chance to capture three points from a team regarded as one of the worst home teams in the mls. i imagine any team would be poor at home if they pulled an attendance of 13k, 5000+ of which were little kids paid to chant “chivas, chivas, chivas” until they got bored. at least they had permanent tifo.
the timbers made two changes in the starting eleven. diego chara and futty danso were drafted back into their prefered roles, replacing the hapless lovel palmer and naive david horst. chivas made 5 changes to their starting eleven, but the biggest change was forced by injury–minda suffered a separated shoulder earlier this week, weakening the goats midfield.
do not let the statistics suggest to you that this match was a game of equals. it was not. while the timbers had an 86% pass completion rate and maintained 50.4% of the possession, creating 14 shots on goal, which are nearly the same numbers the goats put up, those numbers are a statistical mirror, an optical illusion, that bear little resemblance to what actually happened. what the statistics do not suggest is the quality of possession. nor do they suggest how uneven the game actually was.
the timbers were faced with the dual tasks of breaking down one of the stingiest defenses in the league, while also controlling the movement and pace of the goats right-wing attack (which was their left-wing attack the last time they met the timbers). the timbers failed at both endeavours.
with the exception of one nice display of butt-dumping skill, the first half was slow, plodding, and boring. to that effect, the second half was a repeat of the first half, but with the teams moving in different directions. but we should talk about the first before the second, right? right.
the game began as games normally begin with the ball being kicked from the little dot in the middle of the big, green grass-rectangle called a pitch. and within 3 minutes the timbers had taken a shot. not a bad one, either. well, that is to say, not bad if you were one of the little kids who sat behind the goal, imitating pink floyd the wall. smith put in a long cross that was intercepted by john valencia, who chested the ball down and into the path of eric alexander. alexander pushed the ball to kalif, who took the ball in stride and struck a right footed shot from 20 yards out. the ball flew over the goal and never troubled chivas keeper, dan kennedy. that really would be the story for the timbers all night…wait, afternoon.
quickly the run of play turned in favor of chivas. within 6 minutes, the goats had announced their plan of attack: supported by paolo cardozo and nick labrocca, who both distributed passes from the middle of the pitch, they pushed ryan smith down the right wing with over-laping runs by james riley and ben zemanski. smith would then dart into the middle of the pitch and fire several left-footed shots. the first of which came at 4:30 in the match. james riley picked the ball from valencia. he then quickly distributed to smith who pushed a ball into the corner for zemanski. zemanski made a good effort to prevent the ball from going out before returning the ball to cardozo who set up a quick shot for smith at teh top of the “d”, which forced perkins to make a good lung and grab.
chivas then had a nice period of extended possession, passing the ball effortlessly amongst themselves. and during that possession, the timbers chased and chased and chased. finally, in the 16 minute, the timbers got back possession. granted, they got the ball back when they picked it out of the net. but brightside, right?
on a complete breakdown of defense, the baloney sandwich side-footed what would eventually be the winner and the only goal of the game. nick labrocca started the play with a dead-eye-dick outlet pass to ryan smith who was deep in the timbers final third. our smith, not the goats smith, closed down the goats smith. but with a move reminiscent of zizou had zizou been an arsenal reject playing in the mls, ryan smith, the goats smith, flicked the ball over our smith’s head, who then fell on his bum, as the goats smith burned past him and futty to lace a stinging cross across the face of goal. perkins made an attempt to save, but forced the ball into the path of baloney sandwich. and that was that. kimura made an attempt to close down balonas, but it was futile effort at best because that ball was going into that net. my theory is the entire play was lost in the confusion of smiths–there was a whole lot of smith going on.
in the 19 minute kimura and boyd nearly connected to pull back the goal. kimura crossed over ante jazic. jazic fell for the trickery, and left open space for kosuke to whip in a nice cross for an onrushing boyd. boyd jump with a crooked leg lifted in an attempt to deflect the pass. he missed. and dan kennedy collected easily.
no mater how hard the timbers stared at the chivas players, the only time the goats fell over was in a collision between troy perkins, hanyer mosquera, and alejandro moreno. moreno chased a ball that was lofted into the box by the goats smith. unfortunately for him, he connected with either perkins or hanyer mosquera’s elbow or head or something really hard. i like to think perkins had employed his powerful, paranormal death stare, but the likelihood of that is similar to that of me winning powerball and buying everyone drinks. when i win, i am moving to an apple orchard in brittany. so no drinks.
and that was about all i remember of the match. that is not to say i did not watch the match, i did–twice. but the efforts of the timbers were bland and heartless and my involvement reflected their involvement. i was bored into a trance that found me thinking of french fries and tartar sauce in a way only a man under the strong influence of manchurian candidate-like brain-washing would think of french fries and tartar sauce–he looks to them for direction. and like the timbers, i found none.
do not be suckered into believing that because the timbers only allowed one goal, they are beginning to play well. that is not the case. the defense was yet again an exercise of ill-communication and misunderstanding, while the offense, excluding a couple chances, lacked any real threat. in the rare moments the timbers actually threatened the goats, it was done through the wing play. even then, the typical movement of the offensive push turned to the center of the pitch, which was met with several defenders who were all adept at their system–the same system the timbers have employed for 2 matches. it is fair to say the timbers lacked direction. and that is what gavin brings?
at this point, i am terrified that if i rehash the timbers technical failings in any depth i might be forced to kiss gavin–i have these terrible headaches and the words tartar sauce scream within my brain.
i hope i made the post entertaining, because that match was not.
have a great day.
fyi: for those not in the know, tonight i will be sitting down with the boys at 5 minutes to kick off to talk about the timbers.