I think I’ve calmed down enough to write the player ratings post, although I suppose only time will tell. There is a lot of blame to go around. I feel like I’ve uttered that phrase quite often this season. In this particular case, the team’s poor play was an element of a synergistic relationship with some absolutely bizarre personnel decisions. Oh well. I just need to write this and get it over with, if only as a part of the process of purging the whole thing from my memory.
1. Donovan Ricketts: Ricketts was like the keeper who shows up with all of his gear at one of those weekend pickup games and then gets really annoyed when a pack of strangers don’t bother the play much defense in front of him. The defending was criminal, and there is a sense in which Ricketts can’t be blamed for the fact that he was thrown into one of the most intense matches of the year with a defensive line in front of him that he’d never really played with before. Still, it wasn’t as if he did a fantastic job of marshalling them either. 4
12. David Horst: Horst was like the Little Dutch Boy with his finger in the dike. He was the only one out there among the defenders who really looked like he belonged. It was, in a lot of respects, typical David Horst: maximum effort, strong physical presence, effective tackling. From where I was sitting, it didn’t look as if there was much more that he could have done, given the material with which he had to work. Horst is my Man of the Match, if only in a faut de meiux sort of way. 6
22. Rodney Wallace: Wallace is only really effective (when he is effective at all) playing in an attacking capacity on the left side. He’s better in midfield, and why he was preferred to Smith in this case is anybody’s guess. Was the thinking that we needed someone with a more purely defensive orientation? I can’t imagine how it couldn’t have been clear that Smith, whatever his shortcomings, would have been the better choice. Perhaps he was crocked and I just didn’t know about it (I’m not as aggressive about scanning the injury reports as old sunshine). In any event, it was a case of putting the wrong guy in the wrong situation, and one didn’t have to be Karnack the Magnificent to predict the result. 3
30. Lovel Palmer: Take what I just said about Wallace and cube it. This was the tactical equivalent of Pickett’s Charge. One can scarcely have looked at it beforehand without beings struck by what a bad idea it was. Once again, maybe there was an injury situation of which I was unaware, but the shortcomings that Palmer so often evinced early in the season were once again in evidence. He simply refuses to close down effectively, and as such when deployed as a fullback he has the same effect on our team as kryptonite does on Superman . 2
98. Futty Danso: Palmer was like a black hole, exerting powerful gravitational forces on Danso and, in a disturbingly large number of cases, leaving him alone in space. Danso is a serviceable center half, but he is simply not mobile enough to accomplish the task that Palmer’s confusion set for him. I really felt for him when the own goal went in, especially because it really looked like it knocked the bottom out of a tub that was already leaking pretty severely. 4
7. Sal Zizzo: Zizzo has many positive qualities, but effectiveness in defense is not really one of them. Thus, it was hardly surprising that he couldn’t really get into the match. If he’d stayed in a part of the pitch where he could have been effective he’d never have seen the ball. As it was, he was sucked back into the grim vortex of our “defense” time and again and that pretty much neutered him. He was subbed off at half time, which I suppose was for the best, although the problems that he was having were not really of his own making. 4
8. Frank Songo’o: One of the few decent performances on the night. Songo’o has been pretty consistent over the second half of the season and this match was another example of that. The fact that he couldn’t really get much done had as much to do with the disorder behind him as with the quality in front of him. 5
13. Jack Jewsbury: If anything, this match was an illustration of why we need an upgrade in the middle of the park. Take pretty much every aspect of the game that Jewsbury played and write “not quite good enough” next to it. 3
21. Diego Chará: Did what he could. He kicked people and tried to stem the flow going forward, but the area of the pitch that he inhabited was really just the launch pad for balls going forward to people getting around and behind our defense. This was a typical, energetic Chará performance in terms of energy and aggression, but he was trying to bail water from a boat that was leaking it by the gallon and there was just not that much he could do. 5
6. Darlington Nagbe: I’m tempted to just put in a link to some of my earlier posts about the failure of the Timbers to advance the ball effectively. Nagbe ran up blind alleys all night, which was just as well since he was needed to shore up the defense for so much of the evening. He didn’t really bring much to the game, but that was more a result of the horrendous tactical approach of the team in general rather than any failing on his part. 4
19. Bright Dike: Dike worked hard with the chances that he got. I was happy with his performance in the sense that, as usual, it was quite clear that it was 100% of what he had to give. He was the only Timber who looked much like scoring and he was clearly a handful for Seattle’s defense. With more support behind him he might have been more effective, but the overall organization of the match prevented this. 5
5. Eric Brunner: Sent on to put Danso out of his (and our) misery, Brunner did what he could, but the horses were out of the barn by that point. 5
2. Mike Fucito: They sent him on at half time for the ineffective Zizzo. He was similarly ineffective, and for exactly the same reasons. 4
17. Eric Alexander: He is almost never effective when coming on as a late game substitute. To his credit, he brought a lot of energy to a side that was really lagging, but there really wasn’t much that he could do in twelve minutes, especially given the overall structure of the match. 5
I don’t usually give a rating to the coaching staff, but with all due respect to the people running the show, this time around I feel obligated to say that they deserve a zero. Others may disagree, but to me this looked like a catastrophic failure of judgment. Perhaps there were injuries or other factors of which I am unaware, but I simply cannot fathom how they could have put out that team with any hope of the result being anything other than it was. Make no mistake. This was a grim result, and not just for the potential consequences in terms of the Cascadia Cup. Capitulation to our most hated rivals in this way is a body blow to the supporters who have so loyally backed the club throughout this grim season. The people in the stands deserve better.