just a quick post this morning because the reason for all this heat has arrived in town--it is match day. fc dallas makes their way into the jw this afternoon, and, with the way things have been going for the timbers, i expect they will leave with a win.
the timbers have been on a five game tear. that is to say, over the last five games i have torn out what is left of my barnet in anguish over what this team calls playing football. they have shipped 15 goals to the opposition, been shut out 4 times, and suffered a loss nearly as humiliating as the loses to either cal fc or hollywood united.
five goal shutouts happen to teams. losing happens to teams. and often teams rebound from those loses. but losing the way the timbers did to fc dallas might convince even the dalai llama that worrying may be the only significantly effective response to what will come today.
in the last match, gavin, or mcauley, or whoever, scrapped the wholly ineffective 4-2-3-1 formation played during the road trip that saw the timbers hand 6 goals to chivas and fc dallas. it was evident the timbers were to unfamiliar with the formation to have any effect other than the one they got. they did not have the personnel to play the overlaps and the midfielders were either lazy or could not be bothered to assist with defensive duties. it did not help that zach lloyd had the best match of his career, nor did it help that jackson provided the timbers a short clinic on the importance of an attacking midfielder.
however, putting dallas's offensive dominance in a small corner, away from this argument, the bigger issue of that match was the complete lack of composure within the back four. chabala was a disaster. futty and mosquera lacked anything that resembled an understanding of each other's movements. and had the majority of goals not been scored through a cruel amount of abuse levelled at chabala by zach lloyd and jackson, kimura would have found as suspect at marking as chewy. with the 100 degree weather oppressing the life out of the rose city, even if we see the ginger scot in place of chabala, it leaves little doubt that dallas will be running their offense through lloyd again.
as bad as the last five games have been, some hope for the future was unearthed in the home loss to chivas. someone with a footballing brain determined that 4-2-3-1 was, like milk on a hot day, a bad idea. the timbers returned to 4-3-3 and with some surprise the back four appeared to work as a unit for the first time this season. i was astonished to see they kept a tight line, pushed forward when the midfielders had ventured into chivas's half of the pitch, and they employed an offside trap. their efforts almost suggested someone had been drilling them on how to play together.
further up the field, richards and songo'o both played extraordinarily well. richards plays with the tenacity of a frustrated child flailing his arms in an attempt to attack his older brother who laughs mockingly at him as he holds the little fella at an arm's distance--he simply will not give up. combine that with his obvious talent on the ball, his vertical game, and his growing football intelligence, and it seems the timbers have a player they wish they had in darlington nagbe. that is not a knock on nagbe, he simply has not developed into a game changer, which is, in my opinion, due to being played out of position or his inability to do anything with his left foot.
franck songo'o had a masterful first half against chivas. he controlled the pace of play and found the creative form he teased with during pre-season. he unlocked a number of threatening runs and attacks on goal. unfortunately, dan kennedy and kris boyd were reluctant to convert franck's efforts into a goal. looking forward to the dallas match, with the confidence from the chivas match still affecting his brain, franck began to exaggerate when describing the mood of the team going into this afternoon's match:
We want to beat them; they had a great game against us. We want to show them we are better than them.
i am well chuffed to read franck and the lads want to beat fc dallas--they should. but to suggest they are better than dallas overlooks the recent run of form. there is an old saying that a team is only as good as their last game. certainly the timbers were a different side last sunday, but they still lost because of a mistake. and mistakes and bad play have been the overriding theme for this season. while the new "assistant, not candidate for manager" believes the talent of the side is unquestionable, i think he overlooks the fact that same talent suffered the indignity of shipping 15 goals in the last 5 games.
perhaps another thing overlooked is that fc dallas put 5 past the timbers without their temperamental talismans, brek shea and blas perez. perez is listed as questionable for today's match, but i have a suspicion shea will be playing. one positive to be taken from a negative is absence of jackson. the misfortune of concussions hits all sides, and fc dallas is no exception. i expect the timbers will surely benefit from the absence of the nutted midfielder, who scored one and set up two against in the 5-nil romp.
all right, it is an early one today and should also be a scorcher. i hope i am wrong, but the trend of late does suggest we can expect some heartbreak in the heat. but you never know, i am taking a noob to the match and whenever i do we seem to do well. fingers crossed and keep hydrated.