Blah, blah, blah, meetings, blah, blah. I’ve really gone through my excuses and I’m left with: I just didn’t get it done and now it’s almost noon on the west coast. This is really the time of year that sports bloggers hate. You spend so much time during the season working through dead spots, grinding every bit of minutia into a fine powder and then spreading it around for weeks on end. And then the season is over, and what the hell do you do then?
There are a couple of senses in which this is a year round occupation. In the first instance, because the MLS runs on the opposite calendar to most of the European leagues, I’ve certainly got plenty to do on the weekends (and even in midweek as those of you who happened to catch Arsenal’s exceedingly bizarre 7-5 victory over Reading in the Capital One Cup yesterday will know). It is at times such as these that I really envy the people I know who write for blogs that cover teams in the EPL or other major leagues. Even during the off season, a team like Arsenal generates enough news from day to day to keep Arseblogger topped off with material. Much as I have come to love the MLS, the news cycle here is a bit more relaxed. And by relaxed I mean that there are deadspots larger than the one that develops in the Gulf of Mexico every year.
This is a time when the bloggers from various teams need to band together. We need to start pitching mutual insults at an increasing pitch of fury, until there is nothing left to do but to stage deathmatches at neutral location, winner take all the Quatloos.
Sadly, I do not foresee this ever happening. Rather, I expect that the summer will look a little like this. sunshine and I will hash out a series of post-season evaluation pieces in which we dissect the performances of individual players as well as of broader segments of the squad down to the molecular level. I have an email in my box from sunshine waiting for me in my box which is either meant to invite me to a planning session for just such a series, or to inform me that an Albanian hit man has been dispatched to sort me out for real.
Anyway, most of my concerns in this regard are matters for the future. For the moment it’s still a matter of digging through the recent past. I saw that David Horst was given Man of the Match in the wake of the draw with the Quakes. That is pretty much justice as far as I am concerned. I’ve been looking back over some of my early assessments of David Horst. It took me a while to warm up to the guy. He’s not the most mobile defender at the best of times, and in those early days when he was coming back from injury this quality was particularly in evidence. At that point in the season, the Timbers defense was pretty sieve-like and Horst didn’t really seem to be much of an (or any) improvement over Brunner. With the run of games that he got in the wake of Brunner’s concussion, Horst really got to show what he can do. Horst makes of for his relative lack of quickness with an excellent positional sense and a serious degree of aggression in pursuit of the ball. He generally partners well with whoever is out there with him at center half, but the partnership that he forged with Mosquera in the middle months of the season was one of the few real bright spots.
Paired with the relatively inexperienced Andrew Jean-Baptiste for the final match, Horst did an excellent job of keeping Wondolowski and company from running us into the ground. Horst is about the closest thing this team has to a real leader. I know that Jewsbury is that captain and seems to be pretty vocal, but it’s Horst who really leads by example game in and game out. If the team is going to build around someone (or perhaps build their defense around someone) Horst would really be the guy.
I also wanted to mention that I was a little surprised at the degree to which Brent Richards fell out of the rotation toward the end of the season. There was a period of three or four matches when he really looked to be making some serious strides. Partly this had to do with the fact that Alhassan was crocked and there was kind of no one else to play out on that part of the pitch. Frankly, I never really found Alhassan all that convincing. For me he was one of the main violators in the whole run it up the alley and pass negatively malaise that so blighted this team’s offensive efforts. Richards on the other hand seemed to bring a bit of freshness. It looked to me like he was a lot more diligent about really working the ball up the wing and trying to put in crosses. That said, his game was certainly quite raw it the best of times. All too often he tried the kind of moves that work in college but which get shut down immediately at this level of football. Clearly, he has a ways to go, but his cameo in the San Jose match was at least a reminder that he was around.
Ok ladies and gents, that’s all I have for today. I need to go home to visit the Axe conclave (or to meet with the hitman). One little tidbit is this: given that Caleb Porter’s Akron Zips are playing a couple of matches within roadtrip distance for me, I am going to try to get down to see them and maybe get a little preview on what he will bring to the team. They’re playing Western Michigan on Saturday, so we’ll see what kind of match report I can generate from that.