Marriage is really about sharing. In most respects that is a wonderful thing. In this case, however, what Mrs. Mags has shared with me is a case of really nasty crud. She probably acquired this from one of the students where we teach. One thing that I have learned in my time in education is that young people are like little petri dishes. It’s not just that they carry around all sorts of diseases. They brew them up with their semi-developed immune systems into psychotic-robo-killing machine versions and then pass them on to their elders. Which is not to say that I blame them. No. I blame my wife.
With this as a preamble, readers of this blog will, no doubt, be expecting some sort of extended, bizarre rant. Well, you may not be disappointed. My original theory for this column was People Who Will Be Sent To The Gulag System When The Magadh Regime Achieves Power. I have a plan for this, but I don’t have time to go into all of the details. Suffice to say that three groups in particular should consider themselves warned: Sounders fans, devotees of the works of Ayn Rand, and the people who make those stupid plastic clamshell packages. I mean seriously, why should it take me half an hour to actually access the new network cable that I bought?
Now down to business. I suppose it’s worth mentioning that our reserve team was eviscerated by the L.A. Galaxy’s reserves. You’re probably thinking that this is one of those things that should be securely ensconced in the “Who Cares” file, and maybe you’d be right. I didn’t see the match, and I don’t really know what happened, but in the great tradition of American punditry I’m going to draw conclusions about it anyway. The first thing to note was that this was a Galaxy reserve side that featured Landon Donovan, who is currently working his way back from injury, as well as Edson Buddle and a few other players who have seen time in L.A.’s top squad. Donovan had a goal and an assist, thus extending his very unpleasant tendency of putting the boot into us.
On our side, the squad was as follows:
Joe Bendik (Jake Gleeson 46’); Ryan Kawulok, Futty Danso, Eric Brunner, Ian Hogg (Cam Vickers 71’); Eric Alexander, Kalif Alhassan, Pablo Di Fiori (Sebastián Rincón 61’), Danny Mwanga, Kris Boyd (Charles Renken 66’), Mike Fucito (Brent Richards, 46’).
What immediately catches the eye is that this lineup contains an awful lot of people who have played extensive minutes with the senior squad. There was a time when Brunner and Danso were starting regularly at center half. Eric Alexander has been in and out of the squad. Alhassan has had a lot of injuries and now struggles to find playing time. Danny Mwanga seems to have been purchased to keep the substitutes bench from floating away. The less said about Kris Boyd at this point, the better.
One match (even one in which one receives a real tonking) is too small a sample size to draw conclusions with any degree of rigor. However, getting hammered like that with a squad featuring so many former (and in some cases current) first team players gives the impression that the team is lacks depth and is carrying too much dead wood. Our current position is the cellar would already have made the first point clear. What is worrisome to this correspondent is that with one or two exceptions (most prominently Brent Richards), it doesn’t look like there is really a wealth of quality that can be brought into the squad from below. Maybe this will look a bit different once Caleb Porter has had a chance to put his stamp on the team, but at this particular moment the personnel on hand do not really fill one with confidence.
Perhaps I’m in a bit of an apocalyptic mood because we are only a few days away from another tilt with our lime green clad rivals to the north. If you were privy to my and sunshine’s email inboxes (and you may thank your lucky stars that you are not) you would see that the trash talk from the folks up north is already in full swing. Our good friend from up that way is fond of making the point that, should they beat us on Saturday, it will then be mathematically impossible for us to finish above them in the league table. I think we all know that Saturday’s match will have nothing of consequence to say about that. The good ship Finishing Above the Sounders sailed a couple of months ago and she will not be coming back into port until next season (at the earliest).
We do still have something to play for of course. There is the small matter of the Cascadia Cup. It doesn’t matter all that much in the larger scheme of things, but to deny it to Seattle would be at least a sliver of light in a long, dark season. Perhaps just as important is the goal of making them shut up, if only for a couple of weeks. Having lived in Seattle for the best part of a decade, I have a lot of friends from up that way. Many of them are Sounders season ticket holders. Having them lord the superiority of their team over me (and over Timbers fans generally) really rankles. This season has been short on really glorious moments, but beating Seattle was certainly one. I think you can look at this team and say that they owe us a debt. People keep coming out to the JW and supporting the side with admirable loyalty. It is altogether fitting and proper that they should do this. Thus far, the team has, with a few notable exceptions, all too often failed to live up to the hopes and expectations of the fans. The time has passed when, on the basis of an entire season, this condition could be reversed. But it can be mitigated. We have two more matches against Seattle remaining this season. They cannot erase the failures of the term. But doing the business against the Sounders would, I think, make us all feel a lot better about it.