sunshine sent me a text today (which will be last night be the time this post actually sees the light of day) telling me to check out Gavin’s comments from his post practice meeting with the press. From the way it sounded, Gavin had claimed that he was a 6000 year old vampire and that he had been running the club as a vehicle for the promotion of a zombie apocalypse. Sadly, those things are completely out of question. I say sadly, because at least that would mean that there was some kind of underlying agenda that would explain the way things have been going. Sure, the idea that bringing Donovan Ricketts to Portland was meant to complete an Enochian summoning ritual sounds implausible on its face. But frankly it doesn’t sound nearly as kooky to me as the proposition that he was in any way an improvement over Troy Perkins.
sunshine was lamenting the fact that I would get first crack at Gav’s comments. To be totally honest, I can’t really tell what he was so exercised about. I’ve read through what Gavin had to say and it mostly seems like the kind of boiler plate that managers dish out after midweek training sessions.
High points (if such a term applies in this case): Mosquera is back in full training. Apparently he could actually have played against Seattle, but they were reticent about putting him on as they didn’t want him just to get crocked again and have to come off. I think I see the logic there. A bit later on, Gav also mentions (in an indirect sort of way) that Steven Smith has some kind of long term niggle and that this was the reason that he was held out of the Seattle match. Having no really substantive information on this topic, I can only assume that holding him out of the match was the right call. One might justifiably ask the question: if he wasn’t really fit why have him on the bench? Sadly, the most likely candidate as an answer to this question is: because we didn’t have anyone else to put there. This is one of those things that fans of the team must find quite alarming. The only thing more troubling the than the (at best) in consistent play that we have seen at fullback this year is the fact that Smith and Kimura are the best thing that we’ve got going there by a long way. As the debacle in Sodo illustrated, moving down the depth chart things get worse quickly.
Another part of Gavin’s soliloquy had to do with Kris Boyd’s “return” to “fitness.” For me, the ranks pretty far down the list of concerns. How far down, you might ask? Well, down around my level of concern for whether Taylor Swift is happy in her relationships, or Paul Ryan’s actual time in the marathon. Saying positive things about Boyd at this point is just an exercise in damage control. His time here has been, to put it as politely as possible, utterly disappointing. Gavin talks about the possibility that Boyd might feature in the final match of the season against San Jose. Well, more power to him if he does, but at this point my greatest hope is that this will act as an advertisement to some other team who might want to take up his services and, more importantly, take his contract off our hands.
Just to reiterate a point that I’ve made before (perhaps ad nauseam): the fault is not Boyd’s alone. I just don’t think that we have the players to do the things that are necessary to make Boyd effective. To take one example: Frank Songo’o is one of the best wide area players in the side. He’s a strong player who thrives on forays into the box and does best when he’s taking on defenders who try to front up on him. What he is not is the kind of guy who is instinctively going to head to the byline, compress the offside space in the box, and but in an effective cross. He can do those things, but they are simply not his go to moves. Since Boyd has, in his many appearances, shown himself not to be the kind of guy who is mobile enough to play the sort of motion offense in which players like Nagbe and Zizzo prosper, it’s hard to imagine how his return to the team could do anything but recreate the difficulties that we had scoring for so much of this season.
As far as other things that Gavin had to say, he commented that both we and Vancouver should be well up for the match this weekend. This was not quite the sort of Winston Churchill, we-shall-fight-them-on-the-beaches type of speech that many people were probably hoping for. At this point I think Gavin has to be about expectation control. We know who we are at this point. We’ve had a whole migraine-inducing season during which to learn exactly what this side is capable of. The idea that we would come out with overwhelming intensity, especially on the road, would really be a pretty hard sell at this point.
This is a team that, for whatever it is worth, is about consistency: we’re consistently mediocre. Bringing in Caleb Porter might be a step toward changing this. There’s really no way to know until he gets here. But the larger issue is this. Until the people running the show start making better decisions in terms of personnel, this team will continue to struggle. The level of quality in this league now (as opposed to five or six years ago) is not such that you can just throw a bunch of carbon blobs out there and hope to finish in the middle of the pack. We can change the manager, we can try different formations, but until the overall quality of the squad improves the bottom half of the table is likely to be our lot.
I strongly suspect that sunshine will have more to say about these comments. I am prepared to accept reproof for having overlooked some particularly absurd aspect of proceedings. At this point I think we all really know what’s going on and all we can do is limp to the line. I very much hope I’m wrong. At least that would be a pleasant surprise (for once).