this last week at the axe has been exemplary. both magadh and john have really held up their end of the bargain, providing excellent discourse on the extremities within the obsession of sport.
but as compelling as their commentary was, it is equally unfortunate that such great writing must follow such awful behavior. whether we discuss the boneheaded decisions of a once loved hero of the green and gold, or boneheads in general, the great loss is the conversation surrounding the reason we write this blog–the portland timbers. yes, these subjects do affect the enjoyment and love of the game, but the distraction caused us to overlook the truly good things going on with this team.
the fact we focused on people committing acts of theft, robbery, and violence, whether because they presumed that those are the actions of true supporters, or not, is a sad commentary on the overall insecurity of american football supporters.
in comparison to other football leagues in this world the mls is still within the nascent years of development. the difficulties to grow a fan base exclusive of the so called big four of american sports has been well documented in the years since the league first started play with ten teams. much of the difficulty growing the league was caused by the insistence of being different from european leagues, which is still a cause for frustration among the supporters. even if the decision to nix to the wholly ridiculous 35 yard shootout to end the game has brought back more traditional fans, selling a sport to a country that believes fast paced sport should have lots of scoring and a decisive winner in addition to more ostensibly “manly” results like explosive, injury inducing hits performed while wearing multiple layers of pads and only playing specialized positions that require a total of 3 minutes worth of work is hard fought. the conclusion that might assist the insecurity felt by supporting a sport that requires playing 45 minute halves without a time out and without gladiatorial padding may seem more effete, but it is what it is–enjoy the game for the aesthetics. football is the beautiful game: it develops, it flows, it turns, it has drama, it has heros and villains, it breaks your heart, it lifts you as close to the gods as icarus should dare, and it surprises you every day and every game you watch.
those are the reasons we should watch the game. and those are the things we should discuss about the game. instead, we are discussing new supporters and their limited ideas of what european supporters do while supporting a club, and a sport, that the majority of people in this country have determined to be less than manly. and that is what this discussion over the last week has been about–emasculation, perceived or attempted.
simply put, the language used by alan gordon and the actions of a minority of supporters of his club were taken because someone got over on them and they had to prove they were not less than. calling someone a “fucking faggot,” or stealing scarves and beating people while they are in the safety of their vehicles, only indicates the severity of the depths of their insecurity. these individuals believe they are getting over, and the use of oppressive language or oppressive acts is a simpleminded tactic used to reduce other people to the level of less-than-me. and that is the sad commentary on the night–still rooted within the psyche of some people is the belief that they must get over on others. whether that is by physical violence or using language that connotes the belief that men who love men, women who love women, are less than the rest of us. this is simply not true.
but what is true is that, yet again, we have given too much time to the discussion of something other than the timbers. so, let’s change that and start to look forward to tomorrow’s match.
doubtfully overlooked is that diego valeri is healthy and he is back. though the side did well enough without his services last weekend, his inclusion should be welcomed. that is if he is included in the starting eleven. many have argued that valeri should remain out in order to avoid san jose’s physical play. if not misguided, it does make some sense. he has just returned from a head injury and being beaten by the nuckledraggers from down south might present potential problems, including the exacerbation of any residual effects of that elbow to the cheek. but here is the thing–valeri is from argentina, where they play a supremely better style of football that is faster and more physical than what is played in the states. there should be little doubt that valeri can make the adjustments to the mauling he may receive from victor bernardez.
still, even is he does not feature in the starting eleven, the team did well enough against the quakes. sure, it was not the expressive football we have come to expect with valeri in the side–indeed, the timbers relied on a set piece to secure the win–play was continuously brought into san jose’s final third. the concept of system over player has been discussed since the announcement of porter’s appointment as head coach. and, yesterday, as expected when he was questioned about valeri, he resorted to the party line:
This is a team. These guys have shown all year long that it’s about the team. You take one guy out, next guy in, nothing changes. We have a system that we play. Everybody knows their role, and it’s not just the first XI. It’s the next XI. Every single day we’re preparing everybody on this team to be able to plug right in our system.
the goal scoring opportunities were there last weekend. supported by the rod wall and the captain, kalif and nagbe took the game to san jose, but missing in the set up was the clinical finishing. ryan johnson did his best to occupy san jose’s stout, defensive line, but they proved to be a large obstacle to overcome. as i suggested in an earlier post, this could perhaps be alleviated by an adjustment to the formation and number of center forwards. ideally, the timbers would have a physical centerforward to press bernardez more than they have, but dike is dike’d for the season and that leaves the timbers with more finesse that physique. with that in mind, perhaps tomorrow would be an good opportunity for frederic piquionne to step in for nagbe or the rod wall–he has height as well as skill, and if partnered with johnson they could pose a problem for the less than mobile bernardez/harden paring.
so, there are some thoughts on something other than thoughtless behavior.
enjoy your saturday.