having safely returned after a covert operation to find the fountain of self-sustaining career options in the depths of merritt paulson's plush leather mancave, i am now back at my dining room table, typing away on the trusty hp. but with the encouragement of the boys from 5 minutes to kickoff, who appeared more like two drunk prisoners of war than hosts of a wonderful podcast, i was able to pull through and find the rope that lead me to the safety of the awaiting black hawk. frankly, i am more comfortable with the tippy tappy of the computer keys than two headcans and a microphone, especially with merritt yelling downstairs to keep the noise down. but i have survived, unharmed, and i am rearing to write a post.
unfortunately, i have now returned home to review the unpleasant but foreseen consequences of cutting our losses with spencer mid-season. as the saying goes--be careful what you wish for. we have gavin. and the timbers now look to a man who has never played top-flight football, and who has never coached top-flight football, to salvage a clearly doomed season.
the few winning seasons he had while in charge of the timbers in the usl (each of which seemed to be followed by a player exodus) do not suggest that his leadership qualities may translate well to the mls. for those of us who have been around before the timbers made the jump into the mls, the results of the last two matches were unnecessary to illustrate a point already clear to us--whether in the front office or on the side of the pitch, gavin is not the man to push this team forward. do not misunderstand me, the timbers were heading in the same direction with spencer. however, under spencer they at least had some direction and structure. under gavin they now play a footballing equivalent to the laissez faire theory of government and economics--their ability to express themselves is limited only by the rules of football, and football does not allow finger paint. ostensibly the manager's expectations of the players are unknown and with a group of players such as that accumulated by gavin, nothing could be worse.
gavin now has the timbers stuck in the 4-2-3-1 formation. the purpose of the 4-2-3-1 formation, adding strength to the defense and providing the wingbacks freedom to push forward and assist the attack, is lost when your team is slow and not really talented. not taking into consideration the skill packages of the current squad, gavin's ill-conceived switch to the 4-2-3-1 formation has made the timbers incapable of defending and doing much of anything else then passing the ball.
on wednesday, passing the ball is something chivas did better than the timbers. they gave the timbers a lesson on how to employ the same formation effectively, and how to sit behind the ball once they had a lead. what made the chivas rendition of the 4-2-3-1 more efficient than the timbers version was the contributions of nick labrocca, ben zemanski, and paolo cardozo to the goats defensive efforts. cardozo had 7x more defensive tackles or clearances than his counterpart, darlington nagbe. which really does not suggest the quality of the chivas defensive work, especially so, when, sitting here at the table writing, i have contributed more to the timbers defensive efforts than darlington nagbe. perhaps a better example of the weakened position in which the formation placed the timbers is the performance of jack jewsbury. during the entire 90+ minutes of the match, jewsbury made a combined total of 4 defensive clearances and tackles. whether he is lazy, talentless, or a combination of both, his inactivity was censurable. fortunately for captain jack, with the exclusion of diego chara, the entire timbers starting eleven were guilty of such inactivity.
i found this troubling, not because it should be troubling, because it should be, but because it shows a grave inability to understand how to break a team like chivas down. the boys at 5 minutes to kick off and i were discussing other manager's opinions on how to beat chivas, and the conclusion was simple--keep them off the ball and harass them so they do not pass you off the field. the timbers did not do this.
perhaps the timbers could blame their inactivity on the heat and humidity of los angeles. but the gametime heat and humidity in la was comparable to the heat and humidity of portland. however, the 73 degree weather on wednesday is nothing in comparison to the heat and humidity of dallas. and dallas, texas, is where the timbers take their doomed season tonight. governor rick perry once thought the secession of texas from the union was a good idea and, to be honest, having driven through that state west to east and north and south, that idea is something i support. still the timbers play there tonight and because they have not seceded i should do some form of review.
fc dallas is a side that has suffered a number of absences due to injury, suspension, usmnt duties, and petulance. so, tonight fc dallas find themselves in a familiar position. blas perez will still be in panama, sadly dealing with his father's passing. regardless of the nail he put into the timbers road coffin last march, that is an awful reason to be forced out of the squad. our thoughts are with him--douche.
in addition to the big forward who scores everywhere he goes, fc dallas are also without fabian castillo. castillo has scored two goals and provided two assists for an fc dallas side that has an offense as anemic as the timbers.
the big issue for fc dallas is the petulant perma-douche, brek shea. having already missed 3 games for launching a ball at a ref (not that any of us here at the axe would do any different given the opportunity), he has now had a spat with schellas hyndman after being pulled early in the fc dallas match against san jose (here are some quotes from schellas from dallas about the incident). i get being upset, and i would expect him to be, but his petulance and tantrums are now so uncontrolled and unpredictable that schellas has inquired how he can help the lad with bad hair. frankly, shea reminds me of the kid who got everything he wanted when he was terribly young and is now being told "no." he cannot handle being told "no." so, if he does play, which is still up in the air, my suggestion for the timbers is when after every time they take the ball off him tell him "no, you can't have this." guaranteed red card after the third or fourth time.
but what about fc dallas play and tactics? well, fc dallas is as bad as the timbers, equalling every possible stat the timbers have, excluding goals scored. they have scored 20, where the timbers have scored 19. that means two things: first, they are an awful squad and worth avoiding if at all possible, and two, i do avoid watching them because it is possible except for today. frankly, if i did not love the timbers as much as i do, i would not watch them either. so, that is my circumvential way of stating i have no clue how the fc dallas are going to line up against the timbers, because aside from today and 2 weeks from now, i will do everything possible to prevent myself from watching them. not even their cheerleaders are interesting enough to grab 5 seconds of my attention.
it is game day and that should mean something! so, let us hope the timbers can show they are better than what they have been.
have a great day!