Well, I’m back and I’ve survived a week of exile in a station buried a quarter mile underneath the polar ice cap. I guess I’ve learned my lesson about cavorting with members of organized crime. But when you’re offered a truckload of free cannolis. In any event, I’ve had a chance to watch that match again (and again). How depressing.
1. Donovan Ricketts: You couldn’t really blame him for the first two goals, and he made some pretty dynamite saves in the second half. I have to say that the third goal was a real botch. I didn’t really see him do anything that Troy Perkins could have done just as well. 4
12. David Horst: This match will probably not make many contributions to Horst’s highlight reel for the season. It seemed like Red Bull attackers were finding space to work in the Timbers box practically every time down the pitch. He and Mosquera really didn’t seem to be on the same page for much of the game. This was a match in which central defense was going to be crucial if we were to have any chance of getting a result. 3
33. Hanyer Mosquera: Played marginally better than Horst. His positioning was better than that of his partner, but that kind of dysfunction in central defense really takes two people to orchestrate. There were a number of times when, as mentioned above, he and Horst really didn’t seem to have a very good understanding of how they were supposed to provide mutual support. Against a team featuring Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill (not to mention the league’s leading goal scorer), that was a recipe for a poor result. 4
14. Steven Smith: Another Mr. Hyde match for Smith. He persistently gave too much space on the wing and cross after cross came in from the right side. He was really at sea on the third goal, which was really maddening, since it came at the kind of time of a match where you would think that players would put a premium on focus. Grim. 3
15. Kosuke Kimura: Far and away the star of the backline. He gave his usual energetic performance and didn’t get caught out of position as is his wont. He was having a pretty good game until he got nutted by Tim Cahill. As an aside, I have a lot of respect for Cahill as a player, but he has an irritating tendency to engage in cheap stuff like that. Since his actions were abetted by the entire officiating crew, he got no negative reinforcement for doing so. Anyway, Kimura did well until they stretchered him off. 6
13. Jack Jewsbury: There are times when Jewsbury works with Chará effectively as a kind of defensive spine that breaks up opposition attacks. Sunday night was not one of those times. Jewsbury was aimless and confused when he wasn’t simply invisible. Part of the problem in terms general defensive malaise afflicting the team. 4
21. Diego Chará: Played quite well I thought. He picked up a booking when Kenny Cooper made a play for this year’s Greg Louganis Award. Should have done better when he ended up one on one with the Gaudette, but then again that’s not really what we’re paying him for, and it’s not like we didn’t create enough chances for other people. 5
6. Darlinton Nagbe: I’ve been pretty critical of Nagbe over the course of the season. There were a lot of games where he didn’t really look the part. Lately he’s really started to get it together as an attacking central midfielder. For me, this problem was that, while he was very quick, he hadn’t really mastered the technical skills necessary to be effective at this level. Well, he’s really made progress. When he scored after 32 minutes (a really beautifully taken goal by the way), it seemed as if we were well on our way to a result. It was not to be, but Nagbe’s contribution to the positive showing that we made offensively was considerable. 7
8. Frank Songo’o: He continues to play well, running at defenders and generally adding to the overall level of attacking aggression. However, Songo’o has a bit of a dilemma. He’s clearly been urged by the coaching staff to get forward. He has not received similar stimulus to get back. Steven Smith has his problems in defense, but his situation would be helped if Songo’o would give him a bit of cover. This Songo’o seems singularly disinclined to do. If this team is going to improve, it’s going to be a matter of everyone giving maximum effort, and that means playing both ways. 5
7. Sal Zizzo: I love Sal Zizzo. He runs. He seems to have a positive attitude every minute he’s on the pitch. On Sunday, he was the straw that stirred the drink, setting up two goals and creating a lot of other chances as well. At times, Zizzo has struggled to find a role. Now he seems to have found one. 7.5
19. Bright Dike: Another strong showing from Dike. Opened the scoring quite nicely in the eighth minute and looked dangerous for the whole time he was out there. He seems to be getting time now on a sort of faut de meiux sort of basis and he’s making the most of it. 6
30 Lovel Palmer: Came on after Tim Cahill knocked Kimura out of the game with an elbow to the face. He didn’t really impress, and for many of the same reasons that cost him his place in the side in the first place. 4
22. Rodney Wallace: Came on for Songo’o and was kind of a letdown. It was not a coincidence that we stopped making chances late in the match. 3
2. Mike Fucito: By the time he came on the die had really been cast and it really seemed like our offense had stalled. Fucito worked hard, as his typically does, but didn’t create much of substance. 4
Well, that whole thing left a reallybad taste in my mouth, and I’m sure it did in many of yours as well. I saw that quote at the end of sunshine post yesterday to the effect that Gavin Wilkinson was going nowhere. On the strength of that performance, neither are the Timbers.