ten days have passed since i last watched a football match. well, that is a white fib. let me back up. it has been ten days since i have watched a football match that is not a rerun. during that time i have fretted, panted, sweat enough sweat to fill several buckets for my survivalist neighbor, and all that due to the fear i have for the health and safety of several players of the two clubs i support. thank god the international break is over and we can get back to football.
we now have a little thing called the cascadia cup. i am suffering from anxiety as i anticipate saturday and the hope that portland can bring back the cup to its rightful home. as magadh indicated yesterday, our fishy friend has been operating a mass bombardment of a scale currently seen in syria. not to diminish the horror of civil war, but this guy is relentless in his quest to degrade and demean our born devotion to the timbers. as if testing our decade long friendship is not sufficient, his attacks have now included shecky and our other pal, the angry ant. to suggest the build up to saturday has seen patience nearly thrown out the window would suggest there was any left when it came to this abuse. at any rate, it is his delusion, not ours.
getting on to matters football. as we look to saturday, several questions loom regarding the squad that will be fielded by the interim ginger. the most concerning issue is that of left back. against colorado, steven smith was shown a yellow for his petulance and that means the timbers must rely on players who were previously proven incapable of filling in that the spot. thankfully the timbers sent mike chabala to ruin another side’s chances of making the playoffs. however, that plan left the timbers reliant on left back options that re-aggravate my bleeding ulcer. the rodwall the most likely to assume the duties, which leaves me with little confidence of the timbers defending any attack started on our leftside. as good as songoo is going forward, his efforts in support of the defense are better described as absent than capable. compound that deficiency with the brainless wanderings of our lovable mr. effort, david horst, and the rodwall is faced with an indomitable task of preventing freddy montero from getting anywhere near goal.
gavin could give cam vickers an opportunity in the mix. but given the abuse landycakes put him and brunner through i cannot see that happening.
then there is the question of kris boyd. i know mags referenced that question as better left unanswered, and i agree to great extent, but the question still remains: will he play? he does add a different dimension to the timbers attack, unfortunately that dimension is just one dimension. his game is not dynamic and requires greater effort and ability from the squad than exists within their limited skill set. while some players grow within the club, the only thing that has grown about boyd is his sizeable gut, which certainly explains his lethargic play. this is not a point gone unnoticed by the interim ginger:
You make one or two key signings up front and suddenly, he starts to see that maybe the writing is on the wall and maybe he’s not going to get a chance. Then the head goes. If the head goes, the body goes. He wasn’t making runs. He wasn’t finishing chances and wasn’t imposing himself on the game.
as tactless as the interim ginger is, he does have a point. boyd has not been the saviour as expected back in the early hours of this year when merritt called him the finisher they had wanted all along. boyd can finish. however, he has not had the type of service necessary for him to be successful. spencer was insistent on playing the ball to head tactics that really did not suit boyd’s game, and gavin has determined a progression into limited-possession possession tactics is the way forward for this squad. if the timbers are indeed going to play possession football, then boyd does not fit that style of play either. he has limited skill on the ball–from the times i have seen him at his best, he was always an opportunistic poacher-type.
the real rub about the boyd question is that gavin feels dike has provides those runs and finished chances. frnakly, i am not sold on dike as an mls quality starter. i think he is a passable plan b, but lacks the ball skill and the intelligence to deserve a starting position on the timbers. but i do not get paid the big bucks to fail to win on the road for over an entire season, nor do i get paid the big bucks to develop an anemic offense that has scored 19 less goals than have been scored against them. the timbers offense is ranked third from the bottom and looks likely to remain there. so, forgive me when i doubt the abilities of a 25-year-old who has done little at this level but break legs.
evidently it is his willingness to run during a game that has so enamored gavin with dike.
We need somebody to chase down bad balls. We need somebody to put pressure on defenders and turn a bad ball into a good ball. We need somebody to challenge for things in the air. Bright does those things.
i cannot argue with that assessment. the timbers do need players who devote themselves to the game and playing for the team, and their new system of play requires the individuals to be blessed with both athleticism, ball skills, and footballing intelligence. dike certainly satisfies the required athleticism.
at any rate, for all the hype he received following the home game against colorado, he does have his commitment issues. dike may have put in a shift against colorado at home, but he was a passenger against the rapids away and against vancouver at home. during the game in colorado, dike appeared lost. i knowthat if could not find him on the pitch it was likely difficult for any one of his teammates to find him as well. regardless of my opinion of his abilities, i do not pick the side, gavin does. given his statements from yesterday, expect dike to get the nod as gavin drives that bus over his million dollar man.
hey, have a great day.