having spent an entire day involved in transit, either on an airplane, in an airport, passing customs, taking my shoes off, putting my shoes on, listing the amount of purchases i made or did not make, i was able to sit down finally and watch the match. i am going to disclose that i have had about 5 hours of sleep in 48, and i am still a bit jittery, which may be either due to coffee, exhaustion, or a combination of both, but that should not affect the post too much.
first, and foremost, i must express my gratitude to magadh and that benny youngman/shecky green character for keeping the daily posts going as i was without computer and the desire to attempt posting from a droid. both of these fellas have some serious commitments in their lives and they came through for me while i was off playing. merci beaucoup.
while playing, i received a number of messages regarding the game. most were of despair. some thought of ropes, bridges, taking on marc bolan’s love for driving with his eyes closed, ham sandwiches and too much booze, even holding their breath because they could not believe that the timbers did it again. guess what, despite what the gaffer says, the timbers still have not learned their lessons on the road.
in response to those messages and saturday’s loss, i had every intention of describing how good the timbers were on the road once they added chabala and palmer to the side in july. i had this thought because i believed i had sussed out the issues long ago, and because spencer had said so. however, after doing some further review, the facts still remain that the timbers stunk. i know what the gaffer has said regarding the team’s improvement on the road towards the end of the season but i have to disagree with him. losing to columbus, losing to houston, losing to sporting, drawing with the union, losing to red bulls, drawing with united and drawing with real salt lake does not indicate any sort of improvement.
there is evidence and then there is propensity evidence. propensity evidence is evidence that suggests a track record, suggests that because it has happened before it most certainly happened this time and will likely happen again. it is a pattern. look at the record. the only win that came on the road between july 16, 2011 and the end of the season was at vancouver. to be honest, that was a game the timbers should have won and really does not suggest they turned the page on a woefully poor road display. and, to bee honest, the timbers should have won on saturday.
so, when i thought i could lay the blame of this latest road loss at the feet of certain players, i was wrong. chabala and palmer joined the side on july 6, 2011. chabala then displaced wallace as the preferred starting left back. during his tenure these are the results. and wallace was not in any way responsible for the goal scored in boston. football is a team sport and if a player breaks down the team breaks down. it is not rocket science and it is not finite mathematics; you do not need the smart kids from mit to break down the schematics of play or to create algorithms to know when and where goals come from. so, i might be going out on a limb, unlikely, but i will suggest the road woes are more systemic than just one player. football is a team sport and you live as a team you die as a team. currently, the timbers are dying as a team.
an interesting stat was placed up on twatter yesterday by @TheMikeDonovan. he twatted that the timbers rank 3rd in both shots, with 42, and shots on goal, with 14. still, with that amount of offensive power, the timbers can neither finish a team off or prevent them from scoring. i am not as concerned about the wasted moments as i am about the inability of the side to prevent goals. as a defensive great once said, it is simple: if you don’t concede a goal, you aren’t going to lose the game. and the gaffer agrees with that sentiment. in his post mach press conference, spencer stated:
I keep saying that you’ve got to deny service into the box. And if you don’t deny service, goals can happen and that’s what happened. We got punished for not stopping a cross. We’ve got to get to the ball quicker.
i have rarely seen any public statement by spencer against any one of his players. he does not call them out publicly. but that statement right there is as good as you are going to get when stating that the road issues lie with the defense. a cross is a simple way of placing any team in an uncomfortable position of defending the unpredictable. what can be predicted are some simple things: first, someone must cross the ball; next, the ball is often lofted into the box; and, finally, an opposing player must get his head of feet on that ball. when that happens, you know where the ball is going to travel. so, the defense must prepare for these simple elements. the most direct service into the box is from the wings, and the players most responsible for dealing crosses are the wingbacks. it goes without saying that crosses get by the backs and are lofted into the box. it is at this point the central defenders need to be aware of the ball and any players making movement towards goal. if they do not close down the ball, goals happen.
with that in mind, i did a little breakdown of the goal the revs scored on saturday. tiernney took the ball on the lefthand side, palmer pulled back to the box and alhassan covered tierrney. alhassan put in a lazy challenge as tierrney squared the ball and lofted a perfect cross into the middle of the box. the first thing i noticed is that kalif should have closed down tierrney. rather than attacking the opposing player, kalif lifted his leg in the air without much concern for what might result; he was lazy and failed to prevent the cross. ok, fine. that happens.
the ball is in the air and captain jack is covering sene. or should have been. prior to tiernney’s cross, jack challenged sene on ball and then forgot about him. the ball was moved to tierrney on the left. sene kept running to towards the box and captain jack looks over his shoulder at sene, and, what appeared to me, disregarded sene as a threat, giving sene the position behind him. at this point, jack slows up and sene moves uncontested into the box. here is where the goal was given away. jack allowed sene to ghost him; he did not place his body between sene and the box. sene was uncontested. brunner who observed the uncontested sene had to switch his mark to contest sene. this was too no avail. by the time brunner had challenged sene the damage was done and the timbers were down 1 nil on the road.
as much as i take certain wingbacks to task, the rev’s goal was not on the wingbacks. it came from a let up by our captain. had jack placed a body on sene, or between sene and goal, rather than allowing the big frenchman to wander uncontested into the box, we may not be having this continued discussion of why the timbers lose on the road and why their past performances are predictive of their future performances. captain jack had this to say about the performace:
it’s disappointing. We’ve harped on that this week. After the Dallas game, we were disappointed with the start. And obviously 28 seconds into the game, getting scored on, I don’t know what it is. We’re going to have to change that, for sure. It’s something that isn’t good enough, so it is what it is.
it is what it is? hmmm. jack is right, it is not good enough and it is disappointing to get scored on in the first 28 seconds. i am comforted by the fact he can realize that little bit, but that should not happen if each member of the team is covering his position properly. why not take some responsibility? that is what a captain does, and he did not do it on the pitch.
with that, have a great day.