i am currently suffering from the gravest of headaches which is likely brought on by dehydration and has nothing to do with celebration of last night’s one nil win. luckily i wrote down most of my thoughts last night, because this could take a while if i had not. and before you accuse me of self-inflicted pain, i must advise you the strongest thing i consumed last night was a hefty glass of milk. while the pain certainly is reminiscent of a hangover, it would only be a hangover of joy having watched the timbers play excellent defense and win back to back games.
even though the tactics have improved they still require some of the flaws to be ironed out. putting the pencil of revisionist history down, the timbers evolved possession play really did not give colorado much trouble. while the movement of the ball kept the rapids off-balance at times, the rapids still possessed the ball longer and more effectively than the timbers. the new tactics are a work in progress and it will likely take time to remove the antiquated tactics of spennyball from the players game time psyche, but 42% of the possession is not possession football. if anything, the rapids played possession football.
what the timbers did do right was continually switch directions. this was effective, it prevented colorado time to set themselves for the attack and eventually opened space. the timbers used the aggressive running of sal zizzo and his willingness to drive to byline was definitely on display last night. at first thought i was concerned the timbers had returned to spennyball given the number of times he made runs to the corner and dunked in lame crosses, but the intended effect of the runs was to open the middle and spread the clog of colorado’s 4-2-3-1 formation. eventually it worked. but much of the stolid and belabored play of the game is attributable to colorado’s formation–they came to portland for a draw.
the action of the first half was limited, but when it came it came furious and through defensive lapses on both sides. in the 17 minute, colorado found themselves on the edge of the timbers 18 yard box. tony cascio had the ball on the right, his movement having been limited he slid the ball over to martin rivero who took advantage of captain forever’s naive positioning after a nifty one-two to launch a stinging shot on goal. ricketts was up to the challenge and parried the ball forward to hanyer mosquera, who headed from danger far enough to give himself time to set for the next onslaught. larentowicz then drilled a 20 yarder that was also blocked well. threat over and the action would die down for a bit.
i am not certain which is more offensive, the neanderthals in stoke booing aaron ramsey because their favorite neanderthal snapped his leg in half or the fake pain mullen displayed when he crumpled into a heep after tackling songo’o in the 38th minute last night. what is it with leg snappers? are they not simply the most cowardly set of douchebags ever? at least dan smith had the decency to be run out of football and find a job working at tesco. mullen, well, he still cheats and fakes injuries to attempt to sucker refs into awarding cards. if karma does exist, and by that comment i am not questioning the ways of the universe, but if it does exist, then really bad things should happen to brian mullen. if the histrionics and writhing about in fake pain was not offensive enough, the fact he was running down songoo within 30 seconds of his murder certainly was.
5 minutes after mullen’s leg was removed without anesthesia, the timbers began to finally put pressure on the rapids defense. kimura found himself in possession of the ball and determined to make a mazy, somewhat unhinged run against his old side. he pushed past midfield and switched the ball out to sall zizzo on the right side. zizzo squared the ball. as he was doing so, songoo slid behind drew moor, who had slid into central defense from his position on the right. zizzo curled a lofty cross out to an unmarked songo’o who sliced the ball from its trajectory into drew moor with hopes of megging him for a spectacular goal. the ball took a nasty deflection and had it not been for the excellent reflexes of pickens that shot would have been a goal.
nevermind. any heartache felt over that foiled opportunity was soon alleviated by and replaced with elation following the timbers subsequent counterattack. it all began when hanyer mosquera picked conner casey’s pocket on the edge of the timbers 18 yard box. he found chara for an outlet, who then slipped the ball to nagbe. nagbe switched to zizzo who was open on the right-wing. he burst behind tyson wahl to get to byline and makes a significant amount of space between himself and the defense which allows him to place a brilliant ball across the edge of the 6 yard box. while that cross was something special, it was not as special as dike’s run to finish the cross off. whether he lulled marvell wynn to sleep or played jedi mind tricks with him, a seemingly complacent dike ran along with wynn until wynn was caught ball watching. at that moment, dike cut behind wynn which gave him an unimpeded track to goal. he ran onto zizzo’s cross and that was all the timbers would need. that goal may have taken you 30 seconds or more to read, but it took the timbers 13 seconds to finish. in my opinion, the best goal the timbers have scored all season–not the prettiest, but the best. 1-0
they very nearly made it 2-0 before stoppage was called. on another counterattack, this time started by horst who made one of his trademark, bombing runs downfield after picking conner casey’s pocket. why not? seemed to be the thing to do last night. casey’s generosity is unimpeachable. horst left the ball for songoo to collect just within the rapids final third. making a slide rule pass that only a la masia man could make, songoo found nagbe charging towards goal. nagbe flicks the ball with his heel and then looked to side foot into net. unfortunately, the ball slid just wide of the right post. marvell wynn again assisted with some horrendous man marking.
while earlier i denounced the limited time of possession seen by the timbers, that was the result of colorado’s second half attack. to say the second half brought waking nightmares to myself and my seat neighbors would diminish the fear we suffered while watching the timbers beat back the rapids time and again. as much as i hold the defense accountable for the ailments suffered by the timbers this season, they really deserve credit for last night. the rapids had more shots on goal, more blocked shots, and more corners awarded. i am not certain how many goals the timbers have conceded on set pieces (their failure to place a back on the far post has always been an irritant for me), but last night the 7 against were handled with aplomb. football is a team sport, but hanyer mosquera and donovan ricketts were exceptionally good at handling the dangers.
often the glory of a win goes to the flash players, the goal scorers, the assist demons, but the timbers would not have survived last night had hanyer mosquera not played as well as he did. while he gets my nod for man of the match, his game last night would not have been possible if his partner in the back had not been as disciplined as he was. horst has been a bit of a goat for goals conceded, and rightfully so because he has been dire at times, but last night he held his line, was not caught out of position, and covered mosquera when hanyer made his customary plays on ball. clearly the communication between the two centerbacks was improved which made last night possible.
enjoy that win today and the wonderful weather.