the power rankings are out and i have to say i could not care less. if you watch football, and you pay attention to the players, you know which teams have the experience and depth to push through to the playoffs. why do you need power rankings? do they improve your ability to watch the game? do they affect the passion you feel for your side? do you choose to not support your club because they are 13 rather than 11? i, for one, know that once the pre-season rankings have been released there is no point in continuing to watch--the galaxy will win the league playoff, the scum to the north will play well and not finish their destiny, and red bulls will flatter to deceive. why bother watching any further. thank you sporting news: you have saved me from endless nights and days of anxiety and frustration, leaving me free time to pursue deeper, more relaxing hobbies like underwater basket weaving.
power rankings are arbitrary decisions based primarily in the whims of the particular writer. the timbers are ranked 8 by mls.com
, and 13 by sporting news
. that is a 5 team gap and a great example of what i am suggesting. if someone were to say to me that after replacing the hapless kenny cooper with kris boyd, bringing in franck songo'o and making attempts to shore up a porous defense by signing jean-baptiste and mosquera, the timbers should only be considered in the bottom third of the league, i would suggest they go back to their drug dealer and express their dissatisfaction in really unpleasant terms. 13!?!?! that is behind philadelphia, who we play monday night, and only marginally better than the whitecaps who were lucky enough to have new england in the league to prevent their inaugural season from being a total bust.
The Timbers had a solid inaugural campaign in MLS and didn’t tinker too much with the product during the offseason. They have speed, a rising star in midfielder Darlington Nagbe and the Scottish Premier League’s all-time leading scorer, Kris Boyd, now leading the front line. But questions in back and a loaded Western Conference will present challenges.
questions in back? i think we have been discussing that issue enough already, and i completely agree with this assessment. but here comes the rub: a loaded western conference. this is what i was referring to a few posts earlier. garber and the mls invented the "rivalries" heavy schedule in order to create an identity unique to mls. unfortunately, the "rivalries" heavy schedule will make the mls unique for negative reasons: teams that should make the playoffs will not. what sort of attraction will such a system have for the better players in the world? you can say that the growing popularity of the sport will always increase the attractiveness of mls, but think of it this way: the world's best want trophies; they want to win; and they want to play for teams in a league that presents them the best opportunities to do so. because the mls has now stacked the deck, they have effectively made it even less likely for sides that deserve playoffs to make it to those uniquely american end to a league season.
why should we care if the world's best want to come to the states to show their skills? well, because it legitimizes the league and the sport in a country that is all about jocking the best. do you recall who finished 2nd in the 100 m freestyle to michael phelps? did not think so. what about the runner up in the 2005 us open? yeah, me neither. the 7 fellas who were runner up to lance livestrong? yeah, maybe contador and that is only because he won later on. where fourth might be a trophy for arsene wenger and my beloved arsenal, in the states, 2nd is the first loser. so, when you make the league attractive to the world it attracts world class talent, not just colombians, but truly world class talent, and that makes people in the states want to pay attention.
i may seem obsessed with the idea of creating a strong and competitive league, and i am, but you cannot argue that a strong league is a bad thing. after my change of heart, i decided i want this league to flourish; i want great players to want to play in the states; i want the nba and the nfl to suffer severe heart attacks from over consumption. but most importantly, i want the timbers to exist for my children and their children, and not go the way of nasl. is that likely? no. but in the past the mls has had its sacrificial lambs due to the lack of interest in the sport and i am certain it will continue to have them--even those consumer friendly leagues have had their issues. money creates good teams and money comes from interested supporters. so, when you create an attractive sport you create interest. it is a case of speculate to create, but garber and crew took the easy way out.
but i digress...
so, do the preseason rankings affect the timbers' ability to bring in good players? no. do they affect their desire to succeed? no. do they do much of anything other than provide fodder for the water cooler? no. i guess it is nice to discuss soccer in terms of we are better than you with your co-workers, but i do not see that being the source of conflict in portland or any other mls city. frankly, this is not the epl and portland does not have over 10 football teams to support. so why do we persisit with the rankings if only to support a need to measure our junk.
so, depending on the type of car you drive, you can lean over to your cubicle neighbor and say, "hey, dude, i have an 8." he can then size you up, smile, and let you know that he is not intimidated by your lift kit forerunner, that he is fine with his economical hyundai, responding thusly: "cool. i have a 13 and it does just fine. in fact, never had a complaint." and then he smiles, roguishly. meaningless conversation, that.
i think with the new signings and the efforts of our owner to put a competative side on the pitch, the timbers will do just fine...regardless of whether they are an 8 or a 13. after all, it is not the size that matters, it is what you do with it that counts.
have a great day (and, i hear johnny has a couple posts ready to publish)