i must admit that i know several people who display framed cross-stitched platitudes on their walls. it really is not so embarrassing to me, saying that i know them, as it is baffling. perhaps it is because i have never been one to sum up my life philosophy in a stanza of trite sayings. but as i walked down the concourse with several hundred travelling supporters, all still singing even though we had suffered a gut-punch from the moment the starting eleven was announced, i recalled a classic platitude that hangs on the wall of a judge with whom i am acquainted.
Dance as though no one is watching you,
Love as though you have never been hurt before,
Sing as though no one can hear you
if there was a stanza of words placed together that so correctly describes and defines the experience of last night, and frankly every night spent supporting the timbers, i ask you to send it to me.
it is a simple recipe to keep your fan base happy--care. or at least pretend that you care. especially when it is the most hated rival of your club. this is not an experience or a feeling or a concept that should go unacknowledged by the timbers interim ginger. he has played in a few of these matches and he has managed a few more. regardless of the fact the timbers have nothing else than the cascadia cup to play for, play for it! start your best eleven. make tactically wise substitutions when the formula is not working rather than making goodwill cameos for players who have seen less time on the ball than i have seen this season.
playing for pride of the badge and the club that pays your wages should not be a chore, it should be an honor. regardless of the threatened audition for next season, the players on that pitch should have played as if it was their last game. not because it may well have been but because it was a chance to win something, even if only bragging rights, in a season where the best award that might be earned is a vacation. instead, the players looked sluggish and as if vacation started last wednesday.
i have seen teams quit and last night was the closest i have come to feeling that the timbers quit. following the first own goal many of them stood around, looking for, but not quite finding, someone to point a finger. the slumped shoulders, the hanging heads, and the arms raised in semi-disbelief, all belied the moment when their frustration had quickly acquiesced to fact they were out-classed. how could they not? i could not help but think when the rodwall chose to tackle rosales as the ball was played forward to johanssen that we were watching some cruel game of basketball between the harlem globetrotters and the washington generals. and just as predictable as those games are, so was the resulting first goal.
and even more predictable was the defensive breakdown on the second goal. i was left wondering, if only for a few seconds until i realized who was defending, how eddie johnson could go unmarked for so long. the answer: david horst. he might well be a passionate player but passion rarely translates to intelligence. covering for futty who was yet again stretched too far by playing a high defensive line, horst followed christian tiffert and allowed eddie johnson to get behind him and goal side. how often have we seen that with horst? whether he expected the rodwall to actually run in a game in order to cover eddie johnson or he thought eddie johnson was superfluous to the play (though the lofted cross was directed to, you guessed it, eddie johnson and not to a christian tiffert running away from the ball) it really does not matter--horst over-committed and left ricketts to pick the ball out of the net.
had it not been for a good save, ricketts would have been picking it out a third time after montero froze the hapless lovel palmer and curled a shot to the upper left corner of his goal. alert, ricketts got a finger or two on the ball, enough to push just wide of the net and into the crossbar.
i know magadh has written extensively on the dimensions of the jw, but last night, in the first half in particular, the disadvantage of playing on a narrow pitch was on display. the timbers midfield was compact and unadventurous. as expected, the sounders took advantage of the timbers inability to play wide, forcing the ball to the feet of an otherwise absent captain jack. he would then either lose the ball or force the ball to rodwall who would then force the ball back to jack who would then lose the ball.
little movement occurred on the left-wing. i guess one could blame the timbers inability to take the ball forward on the long rubber bands attached to the rodwall, preventing him from going forward any further than the half line, but that would be unfair to rubber bands--they do break when under stress, the rodwall just refuses to run forward.
that is not to say the right-wing was much better. as has often been the case when he plays, palmer was caught out time and again. he was often forced to make ill-advised tackles and was incredibly lucky to walk away without a card of some color. not to his benefit, sal zizzo seemed to have lost any memory of what it was like to dribble a football, which made ineffective any of the two times facepalmer did something right. sadly, zizzo was substituted at the half for a midget who has now played a significant role in redesigning the benches at the jw and pissing off every timbers supporter who travelled north to watch him cunt us off by giving it large to a team and city that did not want him. after last night, that makes two cities.
missing an open opportunity to draw the timbers back 2-1 in the second half is not unforgivable. neither is doing it from an offside position and two feet from goal. but to then celebrate his side's loss with his ex-team is unforgivable. i get that fucito may have friends remaining on the sounders, though i wonder who could enjoy their company, but after being humiliated on the pitch he should have saved his kit exchange and his bro-hugs for the dressing room.
but all of that could have been avoided had gavin made the correct tactical decisions--decisions that so clearly elude him time and again. why it was necessary to give fucito 45 minutes in a game of this importance when he has failed to score once this season, let alone play 45 minutes toal, is still a question that troubles many. especially so when danny mwanga was on the bench and is capable of scoring when playing off bright dike. but hey, i am just a blogger.
eventually, the sounders would score a third. well, they would claim a third. the timbers actually scored two of their goals, but it is always nice to give montero more numbers. while donovan ricketts might be an upgrade in dodgy keeping, he certainly cannot hold onto a ball when forced to make a save. again, the rodwall was in the center of the action. his laziness was highlighted by his inability to get in front of montero gave the colombian a good chance on goal from a flicked on throw-in. montero poked it to ricketts, who was unable to get his gigantic hands on the ball. montero made another lunge but jack beat him to it--i have to commend jack for making certain fredy could not claim that goal.
after that it was a boat race. down 3 goals and with limited help in the offensive department, gavin did what all good interim gingers do--he pulled futty and brought on eric brunner. i know what you all are thinking, but securing a 3-0 loss was far more important than attempting to score. what that substitution suggested is that gavin had surrendered. but really, that surrender came well before the match began. it happened when gavin determined he wanted to use the most important game in the timbers season (sad as that may be) to test drive his yugo. why it was necessary to give the rodwall another run out in order to see that he is still a terrible player and is the remnants of one of the worst trades to be lodged in the mls archives is a question you should ask your owner. i cannot even begin to understand that logic, nor the logic behind starting facepalmer over kimura. however, i will have many posts to come in the off-season to wonder about such things. right now, i am left wondering what could have been had the interim ginger actually cared about fighting. i guess he does not need to when his job has been publicly guaranteed by the owner.
here is to better times.