happy sunday and happy day after the final pre-season game. normally, and by "normally" i mean when following a game of consequence, i would provide you a good bit of post match analysis, describe the goals, the failures, the possession stats--all that good stuff--but not on the day following the final pre-season match. while the match gave us supporters a very good idea of what to expect from this team, overall it was meaningless. meaningless just as the reputed pre-season unbeaten streak was meaningless--it did not affect any regular season standings.
that is not to say the game was without merit, or merritt (i guess he was at the jw, too). we saw how the side was willing to fight once down--that a new ethic has developed amongst the squad and the players on the pitch. these players worked to get back following a 1-0 deficit that came against the run of play. their work was made ever the more difficult by playing a side infused with the dna of the viking hordes. but that is the gift of playing possession football--keeping the ball on the pitch negates the advantage and imbalance size brings to a game through continued efforts to hoof the ball down pitch. seriously, if the timbers returned to spennyball tactics, do we really think a midfield of chara, johnson, and kalif could when a 50/50 ball? their ability to retain the ball and play with it at their feet neutralizes that question--they should not have to worry about winning multiple 50/50 balls when the side sticks to the schematics.
the team went down 1-0 to a difficult if not preventable goal. aik broke down the timbers offside trap with a great through ball to a fella with an unfortunate name--goitum. ricketts came out for the ball, semi-committing himself but not committing himself enough to capture the ball, and goitum went around him to finish on a difficult angle. had ricketts either attacked the ball with anything resembling confidence or simply stayed back to protect his goal, that score would never have happened. scoring for any side is inevitable, and the odds were decreasing every minute that a side who had not scored in 4 preseason matches would eventual score. the sour taste left in my mouth over that goal is from the knowledge that ricketts could have prevented the issue by either exhibiting confidence in dylan tucker-gagnes, who had tracked goitum's run, or by placing confidence in his own abilities to collect that ball. these are pre-season issues and should be cleared up come march 3, but ricketts is old enough and experienced enough to know better and do better.
thankfully, the timbers were determined to play football this season. while the youngsters and fringe players may have lost earlier this week, the starting eleven made certain not to last night. they controlled the better part of possession in the first half and came out blazing in the second. the pressure the timbers placed on the swedes was immense, exciting to watch, and portentous of good things to be delivered. the goal that saw mikey mo money become the heir apparent to the team hair-farmer and pretty boy extraordinaire was created by the positioning and space. even though he was not accredited with the assist, diego valeri's pass to mo money spread the frustratingly compact swedish backline, creating the space for nagbe to get behind the defense. mo money one-touched to nagbe, who dinked the ball back to harrington, who side-footed the ball into the net. these are the type of goals we can expect from the timbers this season. if it is not ryan johnson running into space it will be some other name running into the space that has been opened by the quick movement of the ball around the pitch.
several other chances were made in the effort to push the timbers past the invading hordes, but they came to nought. will johnson did score a goal that was ruled off-side, which brought the house down with a chorus of uniformed boos. he was offside. while the keeper initially parried his rebound to diego chara, who shot wide, or passed, or whatever it was that he was trying to do with the ball, he did not touch the ball the second time. johnson was standing a good yard ahead of every other player when he slotted home chara's "effort." that is the luck of the day. oh well, it was a meaningless game.
if one thing has happened to me as i have watched the timbers in pre-season over the last 5 weeks it is that i have come to enjoy the efforts made by kalif. there, i said it. he does still suffer from the periodic issues of failing to play both sides of the game, which at times hamstrings his rightside partner, ryan miller, but he has improved tremendously from the promising, yet ultimately frustrating one-sided player we have seen the last two years. the fact he plays along side better overall talent, including diego valeri and ryan johnson, does assist the improvement of my estimation of his abilities. but it is his conscious determination to not go missing during the game that has brought me around to the benefits of his play. unfortunately, he did have to throw in a stepover-dribble into an opposing player to remind us all that he is still kalif and still prone to doing dumb.
if questions still exist over the starting eleven, they would be focused on the defensive/centerback pairings. post game, porter was clear that he needed to only make one choice once mikael silvestre secures his visa tomorrow.
We expect Silvestre to open up in one of the two spots. We didn't sign him to sit on the bench.
i know for many years silvestre has had his detractors, myself and mags being a couple of them, but he has shown that he is capable of running that backline. i have been ever so impressed with his displays, and, truth be told, i was dismayed when i read there was a possibility he was to sign for the northern scum. needless to say, his experience and game time knowledge will be invaluable to the side and to the younger centerbacks he is paired with. they represent the future of this club and the benefits of having a winner with silvestre's experience sat next to the hyphen brothers has not been lost on porter.
He's going to be great to sit next to one of these youngsters and help joystick them and organize (the defense) and teach them (how to do the same).
i am not certain what porter meant by "joystick them" but i can only assume it had more to do with fifa2013 than it had to do with something untoward and penn state in nature. but, yeah, i agree with the sentiment. in other parts of his post game comments, porter gave other indications of why this "joysticking" is so important--even though futty is healthy, he was mentioned as an after thought similar to hanyer mosquera. though both are good defenders, mosco reasonably better than futty, neither player is well suited for the style of play envisioned and taught by the manager. i cannot see them lasting through the season. which brings me to the "joysticking" comment, again. the back four will be young and will need mentoring--this is, as porter suggested in his post-game comments, the secondary purpose of bringing in mikael silvestre. let's face it, if he trusted the central pairings that existed prior to pre-season, would he have sought tucker-gagnes and silvestre? no.
alright, enjoy your sunday.