what a slow weekend for news. even with the team travelling home there should be some news, right? evidently not. one day has elapsed since the timbers have pulled up roots in arizona and left for the northwest, yet somehow the topical conditions in which mainstream news has found itself are so arid that they cannot compose stories of interest involving team development. no, instead of stuffing the mental coffers with quotes and notes on tactics or new individual players, the news has been limited to sigi scmid’s response to merritt paulson’s insensitivity over twitter regarding schmid’s obvious physical condition. let’s face it, the dude is not small. but how is that newsworthy?
i am left again wondering how a major league team has such few and talentless journalists that its coverage in the mainstream is limited to that type of journalism. was it purposeful to install the progeny of william randolph hearst’s rambunctious yet irresponsible yellow tall tales? perhaps now that sigi’s weight issues are out there in mainstream format we can discuss bat boy’s and lobster girl’s not so secret love affair in an area of the north end commonly referred to as del boca vista. once that has been uncovered for the greater portland metro-area to read, i think it would be prudent of the mainstream journalists to break the story surrounding how vera katz magically transforms into a chupacabra at the very scent of pine resin.
one of the very reasons we started this blog was to create a daily discussion about football in portland. this is soccer city, usa and the people who live here have a greater knowledge of the sport than any other city in the country. unfortunately, the discussion provided by mainstream journalism is considerably limited in quantity as well as quality. sigi schmid is fat and merritt paulson made a gaff. we get it. but how about the new formation? what about the already observable benefits of possession play? what about the new tactics of team defense? what about mikael silvestre’s trial–is that going result in a permanent deal? what about the freeze out of futty danso? these are topics apropos to the continued and intelligent discussion of our team: the portland timbers.
the news could flourish if the few of us who have devoted significant chunks of our days to discussing the club were provided the same or similar access to the coaches and players as other, more “qualified” journalists have received. i would love to see any one of or all of kevin alexander or magadh or kristen g or bob kellett be offered a press pass and access to the people who we actually care to devote an excessive amount of time discussing. even if the club does not agree with the conversation, the conversation does benefit the club.
while some journalists have enlisted their sources to create a scurrilous and empty article about twitter and big-boned people, there is news about the club worthy of discussion. the much maligned back four of 2012 has not undergone a significant amount of change. while the team has shed a few useless pounds by cutting lovel palmer and koeske kimura, the diet also saw a little muscle atrophe when they cut ties with steven smith. as ruthless as that roster move was, it was also financially sound given the overall needs of the team. but these moves did not reduce the heart of the defence, which could have benefited from a cull and an addition or two. so far, it seems the approach the club has taken with the defense is one of changing the tactics rather than complete overhaul. to be fair, had the tactics not changed a complete overhaul of the back four would have little change in the timbers woes. the simple answer to that question is that last year the structure and shape of the defense was more 6′s and 7′s than 4 across. they had little idea of how to hold their shape, force play into outer areas, and to control the tempo of the game.
the reality of last year is this: the positioning of the back four was pitiful. rather than holding their line, too often the right side was caught out, either due to incompetence or by overreacting to play situations as they developed. the more composed defenses allow for play to come to them before pressing and closing down the opposition. and too often their impatience would be confused with eagerness and enthusiasm that is easily forgivable, though not beneficial. as athletic and exciting of a player as he may be, hanyer mosquera was increasingly guilty of this type of impatient play. had he been instructed in terms of proper defensive tactics there may have been different results, but last year it was quite obvious defensive tactics were not often discussed in the confines of training.
that seems to have changed. hopefully. in an article devoted to discussing something other than sigi’s defensiveness, dan itel gave us some further insight into how the new manager is implementing his strategies into ritualism. the new manager has brought into camp the team concept. i know i have written on this all too often enough and you are likely sick of the subject, but so was john spencer and gavin wilkinson and we saw what happened in their tenures. porter preaches shape–team shape, defensive shape, and the transition into attacking shape. on all ends of the game, shape allows a team to dictate play, exploit the weaknesses of the opponent, and force them to make mistakes. more than any one player, the shape of team play predicts the outcome of the game.
finally, there are some interesting things happening over at another publication, the columbian. you know, the one in washington. chris gluck, a statistician, is plotting the results of play in his own version of soccernomics, which i will refer to as: timbersnomics. his writing is not for the uninterested, but does enlighten if you are willing to put in the effort.
i would quote the boomtown rats if i actually liked the boomtown rats, but it is monday which means another week closer to march 3.