I’ve been running around all morning on a mission of the utmost secrecy. Obviously, I can’t tell you where I am, but my team and I have been coping with a range of problems including lost gear, poor communications, and a storm of biblical proportions. At times it has felt as if the stars in the courses were resisting us, but now the job is done and I can settle down to talking my way through the midweek doldrums.
We have four matches left until the beginning of our winter of discontent. At the weekend, we have the opportunity to do D.C. a bad turn in their battle with the Energy Drinks for third spot in the Eastern Conference. Should we care about this? Yes. Misery loves company and, if it is the case that D.C. will not be feeling nearly the kind of misery that we do, it would still be nice to give them a poke in the eye for the sake of pure cussedness. Oh yeah, I suppose that there’s the matter of professionalism, playing hard to the end, etc., etc., but causing grief to others is a better motivation in my book.
Then, of course, there is our final tilt of the season with Dayglo-Green Sodo Army. What I said about wanting to cause someone else a bit of grief goes in spades for this match. Not only could be decide the Cascadia Cup then and there, we could cause that bunch a bit of embarrassment. We have two more chances to get a road win this season and I don’t think I’m going out on a limb to say that getting one up there would be especially sweet.
Like a lot of Timbers supporters, I have a fair number of friends and acquaintances among the Sounders fan base. I am always amazed at how thoroughly convinced they are of a superiority that goes beyond the immediate matter of seasonal record and extends to the level of higher civilization. Clearly, they have had a lot of success since they made the jump, and certainly the can boast of the involvement of eminent personages such as Drew Carey, but the sample size is hardly big enough to draw any serious conclusions. Still they natter on. At the end of our last match with them I was reminded of that scene in Raging Bull when Jake LaMotta stumbles over to Sugar Ray Robinson and says, “You never got me down, Ray.” Let’s not make more of that than is appropriate. The Timbers are a struggle professional football club, while Jake LaMotta was a psychopath who beat the stuffing out of pretty much everyone he could get his hands on. The point really is that, for all talk about superiority, they’ve yet to get over on us this season. It would be well worth continuing that run.
And then we finish the season against the Caps. If we can at least manage a draw with the Sounders then a win at Vancouver would put us over the top. The long and short of it is, we need to get a win on the road. Sooner would be better than later, but it has to happen now. In a season that has seen some real low points, not coming away with the Cup would be a particularly bitter pill to swallow.
It looks as if we won’t have the services of Kris Boyd for the rest of the season. At this point, I think that it’s about the best turn in the story that we could have hoped for. Boyd has been in wretched form for the bulk of the season, and having him sitting on the bench must have rubbed salt in the wound. This is a time when we need to be assessing the viability of other options up front, and working on making our attack more dynamic that it was when the theory was to hump the ball up in Boyd’s direction and hope for the best. With all due respect to everyone involved, I think that one must draw the conclusion that that approach was a catastrophic failure. It was, however, one that had to be fully explored. Given the dough that had been spent on Boyd, it was necessary to discover what, if any, return it was possible to generate on that investment. If the answer turned out to be “not much,” it was still obligatory that, having gone down the road, we were exactly sure where it went.
Frequent readers of this blog will probably remember that I have on numerous occasions defended Boyd. My position now is not really any different than it was. It’s just that now we have a good deal more evidence than we did before about exactly what he brings to the table. There is an extent to which one could (and I think should) say that his lack of production is not his fault. This is a team that simply doesn’t have the personnel to play the style that would make him effective. When they did find a style that worked, it quickly became evident that it was not one that suited Boyd’s talents. On the other hand, it has to be acknowledged that he flubbed an unacceptably high proportion of the chances with which he was actually presented. In any case, the fact that he will in all likelihood be crocked for the rest of the season makes the question of playing him or not moot.
I have to post this now. I’ve heard reports of a hulking figure in the area with what appeared be a Barrett M82 and I’m getting worried that sunshine has come to exact vengeance for my dilatory posting practices. Before I go, I would like to put the following question to all and sundry: if you were the general manager, what three positions would be on the top of your list for immediate improvement? I have some thoughts on this which I’ll get to in my next post, but I’d be interested to hear what people think are the most pressing needs in terms of improving the squad.
Ok, I’m going to post this before the bullets start flying…