success is often discussed in terms of sacrifice and commitment. and if you were some nut job with gapped teeth, horned glasses, and a trophy named after yourself, you would say success comes from individual commitment to a team effort. as it was, on saturday, no two players were as committed to the timbers cause as ricketts and chara. unfortunately, their commitment to winning came at a severe cost to the timbers in the future. both donovan ricketts and diego chara failed to finish the match on saturday, and will not feature against san jose and real salt lake away, and dc untied at home september 29. regardless of those meaningless road games against teams that eclipse the timbers in talent and skill, their availability is in question for the final away leg against seattle. that is worrisome.
after watching ricketts save against eddie johnson, his injury should come as no surprise. the unfortunate thing is that he suffered a separated shoulder. now, this type of injury is one that will persist to bother him and the 2 week assessed recovery period is generous at best. having suffered a similar injury, even with cortisone shots, i was hampered for a good 6 months. the bigger concern is that shoulders take repetitive beating throughout a match–if the shoulder has been separated, it will separate again. and given rickett’s well documented history of injuries, the timbers upgrade may have just been downgraded.
obviously, that means bendik will take over the goalkeeping duties from ricketts. bendik did display his shot stopping skills on saturday, but his positional play was one issue that lead to montero’s goal. evidently he took solo practice yesterday (not that it is any indication of the pressure he may be under, only that all the timbers keepers aside from him are crocked), and hopefully they instructed him on his positional awareness. he will assuredly be abused by chris wondolowski and the prolific san jose squad if he is inattentive to his surroundings.
while goalkeeping is a concern for the short and long terms, the loss of chara is of deeper concern for the next two weeks. there is no player on the timbers as consistent as chara. sure, you can almost guarantee he will be out 3 games a season for being naughty and reckless in the challenge, but what he provides during the games he does play is irreplaceable. even though he has not met the numbers of last season’s productivity, he is the motor that makes the team run. while i would like to say the games without him have been apathetic, but the recent 2-1 win against cascadia rival, vancouver, was a good showing by the side. unfortunately, san jose, real salt lake, and seattle are not vancouver. or, it would be better to say that vancouver is not one of those clubs. his commitment and drive will be sorely missed.
a reasonable replacement would be eric alexander. obviously alexander is not a player as committed in the challenge as chara, but his ingenuity might replace some of the defensive activity lost. bringing in alexander to the side will require captain jack to remain firmly planted in crab-mode. for me, that is not an issue given that is the trademark jack’s play. he is not a dynamic player and is most effective when invisible. while the timbers are not a side that defends well period, let alone defends from the front to back, perhaps the addition of a player like alexander who can keep the ball would assist where the others might fail. after all, opponents cannot score on them if they do not possess the ball.
luckily the timbers will see some stability in the back four given the return of steven smith from suspension. this will give horst further support and release songoo to do what songoo does—drive at players and avoid his defensive responsibilities.
it is a short one today, but what should you expect with a quick turnaround for the next match?
enjoy your day