four players. three passes. two touches. one goal.
for us in the terraces and the bars and at home on the couches that goal appeared to be as effortless as that description. the players understood each other’s movements, they knew where each other would be, and they made the runs expecting the passes to reach their feet. it was magical, and it epitomized that moment rarely seen in football when players intuitively work towards the same end in a seamless motion. the striking thing about sunday’s game is that moment happened more than once, and with different components.
the rod wall’s goal was a timely piece of counterattacking that left chivas wondering which way the timbers intended to move. after receiving ricketts’s outlet, valeri did two things that confounded the chivas pursuit: he turned with the ball and looked to the left flank and then slid the ball laterally to johnson on his right. valeri’s subtlety froze the goats, took them out of picture, and earned the rod wall more space to attack on goal from the left flank. an unsung but crucial participant in the goal was the movement made off the ball by darlington nagbe. albeit steve purdy was in no-mans-land on the goal, nagbe’s run held him there and secured the one-on-one situation between wallace and eric avilla, which created the additional benefit of forcing a young keeper to come off his line.
just minutes before that goal, the timbers had executed another piece of one touch wizardry that but for the pesky crossbar would have seen valeri likely win goal of the week. that counterattack started with valeri’s pass to nagbe in the center of the pitch. and, again, nagbe switched the direction of play, sending a quick pass to diego chara on the right flank. chara then found johnson, who found nagbe, who then found valeri just outside chivas’s 18 yard box where he curled the ball towards goal with a cultured shot. alright, we have relived that errant moment of disappointment. what of it? re-read the names of the players involved in that attack. look at the positions they held in that attack. now, think of the ways they got there. if the rod wall’s goal was not a fair enough illustration of the basic components of one-touch, counterattacking football, then this break should inform you of the change in mentality and footballing philosophy that has occurred within the side–the players know what to do next. it is not just one player (though he may be as much of an exquisite specimen of a footballing demi-god as portland may every see–yes, i speak of valeri), it is every player performing the next right move. performing, not making. when a team connects as the timbers connected on sunday night, they are performing balletic maneuvers choreographed by hours of study under the brilliant mind of an artist.
with all this artistry in mind, why not watch all the highlights?
moving on from the glory that was, as Magadh put it yesterday, a game the timbers really should have won and only did what was expected of them. it seems the timbers long discussed issues at center-half have been given a lift. pah moudou kah announced that he has finally obtained his visa. in case you lived on mars or kelso, washington, that means the timbers now have some depth in the back. it does not mean “the kah” will immediately start for the timbers or that he is guaranteed a starting position when he becomes accustomed the style of play. personally, i would not expect the big norwegian to immediately step into the side given his hiatus from football–you know, having only recently played in saudi arabia. all jokes aside, and saudi arabian football is a joke, we are sure to see him riding the pine for a while until his fitness and footballing levels have risen to the estimable heights now exhibited by futty and ajb.
and, finally, in other areas of interest, the u-23 squad put in a fine shift last night as they beat the sacramento gold 3-2. memphis university standout, mark sherrod, who put in some good work for the u-23′s last season, sent the saplings through on a late chipped goal. that means the u-23′s have now gone further in the lamar hunt u.s. open cup than the first team did last year. yes, i intended to bring up cal fc if only to pull the band-aid off and let us all get to healing our little broken hearts.
last year was a morass of indignation, complaint, and anguish, that found its zenith within the loss to cal fc. the wheels really fell off the train for the timbers, the coach, and the players, following what was a very predictable kris boyd missed penalty. but this year the timbers have two bites at the prize and it is good to see the youngsters get off to a start dissimilar from the one their elder counterparts made last year. it is trite to say, but a lengthy run in this competition for either timbers entrant can secure further success in other areas of the game the season.
that is it for me. enjoy your hump day.