I must admit to being a little depressed after having read Shecky’s column yesterday. I stay off of Twitter generally. In the first place, I just don’t enjoy it, and in the second, I think it promotes a kind of pseudo-communication that is pernicious to human culture. Another reason that I avoid it, and I assume that this is actually one of the attractions for people that like it, is that it provides an opportunity for people to do extremely foolish things in public. And public is exactly what it is. Saying something stupid on Twitter is, in many ways, comparable to running up to people in the street and annoying them. One benefit, I suppose, is that the immediate prospect of being boxed on the ears is excluded by the fact that one is not in physical proximity to others. On the other hand, thanks to the internet there are a lot more people out their able to witness your foolishness.
During one nationally televised match this season, one of the commentators noted that Merritt Paulson had, at one point, imposed a Twitter ban on himself. I humbly suggest that it is now time to close that account for good. The spectacle of the team’s owner in a public dispute with supporters on the interweb is unseemly, to put it mildly. I’m still trying to wrap my head around what would prompt someone to do this. As an organization, the Timbers have media people whose sole purpose in their working life is to structure the ways that the team relates to the supporting public. The wisdom of organizing things in this way has been illustrated so many times in the history of public life that deviations from this approach simply beggar belief. It’s kind of like deciding to try heroin. You’ve heard the stories. You’ve seen episodes of Law and Order. Maybe you’ve even read a few rock biographies. Everyone knows it’s a bad idea; the examples that prove it are legion. Why would you think that your case would be any different?
The most aggravating thing about it is that, given what a poor season we are having, one would think that people associated with the team would be alive to the idea that things that make the situation worse should be avoided. The supporters have a right to offer criticism. That is just how it is. You might think that the criticism is unjustified. In that case, the proper solution is to ignore it. This is public relations theory 101. I understand that the people running the show must be frustrated. They have to understand that we are too. The relationship between a club and its supporters is, at least in certain respects, like a marriage. It’s something that we all (or at least very many) are passionate about. Those of you who are married will know that there will be arguments, especially in hard times. A certain amount of diplomacy within the household is crucial to keeping things together for the long haul.
Ok, end of screed. Except to say: please MP, stay off of Twitter.
On a less depressing note, tonight we have another chapter in the chase for the Cascadia Cup as the Whitecaps visit the friendly confines. Supporters will recall their visit in May: a 1-1 draw during which a familiar plot line played itself out. Kris Boyd put us in front midway through the second half, but we were unable to hold the lead, conceding a late goal to the pacey Darren Mattocks about 90 seconds after he came on the pitch. At the time, it was a tremendously frustrating result. The team seemed to be on the verge of turning a corner, having just beaten the Fire after two consecutive scoreless draws. In the wake of that match our inconsistent form continued: loss to the Gals, victory against the Sounders (of glorious memory), spanked by Colorado, victory against the Quakes. Then, of course, the bottom dropped out of the tub.
Vancouver has actually had a pretty solid season in their sophomore year in the MLS. They’ve done a better job of talent scouting than we have and they’ve won twice as many games so far. Perhaps the most impressive statistic about the Caps is that they have managed to keep 9 clean sheets so far this season. Although they haven’t scored a huge number of goals, they tends to be very solid at the back. They are a very solid mid-table team, with the very solid Jay Demerit in midfield and led in scoring the Mattocks. Their overall level of competitiveness is illustrated by the fact that they are only six points behind second place FSL.
The Timbers side that will take the field against them is quite different than that from earlier this season. A new keeper, two new fullbacks, and an attack that seems to shift in terms of personnel and approach from week to week. Having watched last week’s match a few times, I definitely think that there is some reason for optimism. Bright Dike seems to improve every time that he is run out. Perhaps more importantly, Darlinton Nagbe seems finally to be growing into the role of attacking central midfielder. One always knew that he had the tools, but it’s only recently that he’s really managed to employ them to best effect. I think that this has a lot to do with the higher back line and the partnership that this has allowed him to form with Chará. It’s important for a guy like Nagbe, who simply is not the most physically imposing fellow ever to play the game, to have an enforcer nearby to help him with winning ball and to give the team a tougher spine in the middle of the park. With a tighter formation, this seems to be a role that Chará is now able to play.
The question that I have is this: will we see Kris Boyd? It looked to me as if the Timbers offense was a lot more dynamic against New York. Partly this had to do with the fact that Zizzo and Dike move a lot better and are less dependent on getting the right kind of service. Moreover, the fact that Boyd is the franchise player means that there is a certain pressure when he is on the pitch to run the offense through him to the exclusion of other options. The recent personnel moves in the team suggest that changes are in the offing. Tonight’s lineup card might give us some clues about the directions that it will take.
The Caps are coming off two straight losses. We are currently tied with them for the lead in the Cascadia Cup. This is one of the few real goals that we can still pursue this season. Come on you greens!