as far as contributing any lasting effect on the growing history of the mls, last night could never be compared to the 1980 miracle on ice. but for those of us who have carried on through this season hoping, some believing beyond reason, and still others putting their heads in the sand, that win was a miracle. obviously, the 2012 whitecaps are nothing like the juggernaut that was russian hockey in 1980, nor is john strong anywhere near al michaels, but i so wanted that little baldy to look at robbie earle and scream: do you believe in miracles? YES!
aside from the glorious win, the timbers of 2012 played the whitecaps of 2011 and what resulted was one of the worst displays of football i have ever had the pleasure of sitting through. of all the outcomes i had anticipated that was not the one i had in mind. i have become accustomed to writing about disappointment and the peril of supporting a club that breaks your heart. so, you must forgive the inability to shake a habit long acquired, because writing about success is not the skill i honed for the last 8 months.
let me be frank, this season the timbers were not the powerhouse side that filled any supporter with hope, home or away. especially away. the story written for the timbers season has been the question when they would finally learn how to win on the road. indeed, their last road win was october 2, last year, when they last played in vancouver. so it was fitting that the timbers broke their duck against the whitecaps last night--384 days later.
typically, when writing match recaps i begin with some witty repartee, followed by some statistics, and then some descriptions of the major events within the match, but the humorist defense is inadequate to describe the relief that comes with last night's win. moreover, the match really had no highlights of which to speak. honestly, i have seen more action when watching mold accumulate on a piece of stale bread during my formative years in college than i did in last night's game. the two best shots on goal were taken by the timbers in the first half--captain jack's thunderous winner and steven smith's attempted own goal. and the action did not improve in the second half. it was not a shock to read the timbers held the whitecaps to 1 shot on goal and a total of 5 shots the entire match. and it was not a shock the timbers fared a wee bit better when firing away at goal.
but aside from that funny little stat, the whitecaps held a small advantage in all other areas of the game. i say small because while the timbers did not play well the whitecaps were even worse. as expected, vancouver's frontline was held by camilo sanvezzo and the once dangerous kenny miller who has now transformed into a hapless figure with super tight shorts. fortunately for the timbers, sanvezzo spent more time attempting to win a penalty than he did attempting to win the game. while camilo was being camilo, miller seemed transfixed by the gigantic wedgy he suffered the entire match--he really is a shadow of the player once so dangerous with noddy holder's beloved wolverhampton or when playing with kris boyd at rangers.
not that the timbers frontline were all that dangerous.they were not. surprisingly, darlington nagbe had lined up on the wing. by my view of the game he was on the sideline the entire match. dike did a little to impress upon me that he deserves to be in the timbers starting 11, but not much more than that. he did contribute two ooooh, ahhhhh, moments--a close first half header from a sal zizzo cross and a well taken shot in the opening minutes of the second half--but still suffered from the inability to retain and hold up the ball. songoo attempted to be involved in the match though placed in the unfamiliar number 10 role behind dike. much to his credit, he did set up the goal that brought the cascadia cup home. but his overall play suggested the decision to place him in the creative role was not the right decision.
the beginning action was limited until the 14 minute when smith mishit a clearance. but for a quick response from ricketts, smith would have been the goat last night. i am still uncertain if that was intentional or not, but given his wry sense of humor and his close proximity to kenny miller it is conceivable he was showing kenny how it is done. conceivable. thankfully that did not occur and he was able to shake off the embarrassment from that mishap in time to make a well placed pass to franck songoo in the 38 minute. smith took a pass from nagbe just off the left touchline, pulled up to dummy a cross, and wisely drew two whitecap defenders to his position. but rather than making the cross into the box he passed to songoo, who took the ball off his chest and then placed into the path of captain jack. now, i give captain jack quite a bit of stick--much of it deserved--but what he did with that pass from songoo was absolutely beautiful. taking one step into the on-coming ball, jack laced a screamer into the upper left-hand corner from 30 yards out. a classic jewsbury goal, if a classic jewsbury goal actually exists.
in the 46 minute the rock of our defense was subbed out due to injury for the oft injured eric brunner. what a steadying force he was. he is not the best player, nor is he the best defender on the side. in fact, i would say he is a passable defender. but he has a presence unlike any other player in the club. and you could see the effect it had on horst's game once he was introduced into the middle of the defense. while many will say captain jack was man of the match for his wonder strike the workman behind him made that win possible. horst did not put one foot wrong last night, cleared every ball that came his way, and was steady. without his efforts i think the timbers would have done what the timbers normally do--concede in the late minutes.
somewhere around minute 83 i began to believe the timbers were actually going to pull off a road win. i hesitated to even think about the possibility of thinking about the possibility of winning, but i did it anyway. and the rest of the match was miserable. i did not enjoy one moment--even when the whistle for full-time was blown. i mean, that was the ellen barkin of football games and there is only one thing that made that ugliness beautiful--this: