Radio Gaga

The fifth stage of the Kübler-Ross model is acceptance.

I think that many of us who support the Green and White have reached that stage.

And, just as the model predicts, that stage can be very…peaceful.

I had a long workday yesterday and had already accepted that I would not be able to watch the away match. Sitting in the service truck reading the match thread at “Stumptown Footy” I searched into my heart for rage, bargaining, or depression and found only a sort of quiet, reflective peace.

Yes, the Boys were on the road against the best team in the league.

Yes, we would, barring miracles, walk off without a point.

But…would we see Kris Boyd back upfront? And what would the midfield look like? Would the team show the fight they have of late, or would this be visit to the Bad Place, a return to the dire form of Colorado away or…shudder…Dallas away? How would our boy Bendik do between the sticks? Could our defense hold the most prolific attack in the league to less than a brace?

By now you probably know what happened. If you were in a medically-induced coma, I’ll sum up by saying that by the 70th minute Portland had an improbable, no… impossible 2-nil lead.

Two-nil.

Over the Earthquakes.

In their house.

Of course it couldn’t last. The final 2-2 draw accurately reflected what happened on the pitch; a Portland team, or, rather, Danny Mwanga, was struck by lightning twice. And the best team in MLS played, well, like the best team in MLS and came back to equalize…but our Boys still hung on long enough for the point on the trot.

The match was brutal; referee Villareal and the other two Stooges lost control of the match about the same time I started listening to the radio broadcast, in the third minute. The post-whistle pushabout was entirely his fault and, again, points out how thin the pool of officiating talent is in MLS. I was trying to type a field report while listening to the radio podcast and was making heavy weather of it; the match sounded desperately confused, but what came through the earbuds clear as new glass was that Portland had nothing going forward (from what I could tell this was a combination of Rodney Wallace’s inability to match Diego Chara’s distribution – and that’s a rather deadly comparison for you, isn’t it, RodWall? – and with Nagbe out wide the 4-4-2 really does choke off Portland attacks) and that San Jose was just hammering Portland’s goal. Bendik was a monster in goal, and the defense was managing to scramble the ball clear, but it seemed just a matter of time before the first home goal.

And then, lightning.

A nice series of passes between Dike, Mwanga, and Wallace sprang Mwanga through for the goal, and the teams ran off at the half with Portland up 1-nil.

I have to admit; my field report may have been somewhat erratic after that.

By the time I rejoined the match I was driving home, and the early moments of the second half were more of the same; Portland bunkered up and San Jose bombing and strafing. Surely the home side would now slot home their two goals to win the match. I felt the sort of distant sadness you feel when you read about some faraway tragedy; sad, that, but look how hard the boys fought. What courage!

And then, lightning.

One thing I had been getting over the radio is Franck Songo’o. It sounded like he had been playing like a man on fire, and in the 62nd minute he went on a crazy, mazy run that ended in a donnerundblitzen Mwanga strike from distance.

Two-nil Portland.

The driver behind me must have thought I had found a stray hundred-dollar bill on the dashboard.

Surely, this couldn’t last.

It didn’t. San Jose, which had started the game with the attitude of Babe Ruth playing in a Babe Ruth League, had sat up early in the second period when the pesky visitors refused to give up a goal and die. Wondolowski had already been subbed in before the second Portland goal. Now Alan Gordon came on, and San Jose settled down to do some serious damage. Portland scrambled, and cleared, and scrambled some more. By the time I got home and turned the match on Wondo had already scored his first and the home side was still pressing. In added time the inevitable Timbers defensive mistake – this one an unintentional flick-on by Mosquera – led to Wondo’s second. Drawn match, and surely San Jose would press forward for the winner.

And then…

Well, no. The lightning didn’t strike this time. But Franck took off again, ran the length of the pitch, dished to Dike in alone on the keeper and…

Bright booted it wide.

And that was that.

I finished my tinned soup, kissed my sleeping wife, and climbed into bed.

Acceptance.

It’s not always a bad thing.

Some random observations from the match:

The Kris Boyd Story is turning into a rather sad tale. The guy finally gets another crack at the starting XI and pulls a groin in fifteen minutes? That’s not funny, or even farce. I really feel for the guy, and hope he gets some more minutes on the road. Why the hell not.

I think Bright needs to sit for a couple of matches while Gav’ tries out another striker. The final miss was it for me; a top-flight striker has GOT to be able to finish that and get the late-match winner. Improbably this season’s Sad Sack Timbers had a chance to win, for the first time on the road this season, at the league leaders, and our front man couldn’t seal the deal. In my opinion, that says we need to see what Fucito, or Richards – or Boyd – can do alongside Mwanga.

Franck Songo’o is a beast when he’s on his game. If he could play every match like he played last night he would be Lionel Messi. Of course, if If he could play every match like he played last night he wouldn’t be playing for us.

I loved you as a player, Knowles, but your defense is a mess. In my opinion the single biggest, most difficult task Coach Porter faces is organizing this goatscrew of a backline. Individual defenders had a great match – Steve Horst’s goal-line clearance saved us going down early. Smith had a solid game, as did Mosquera until injury time. But the unit – AS A UNIT – is a disorganized mess. Even the late substitution of Eric Brunner (welcome back, Eric!) didn’t help. Too many players spend too much time running around looking like they have no idea where they should be or what they should do. The second San Jose goal was a perfect summation of that; a tight pack of four red jerseys were sitting in front of Wondo – who wasn’t offsides when the ball was played in – and Mosquera’s header provided him perfect service. Awful. We have a number of decent defenders but as a unit, we play like the Maryknoll Seminary for Young Ladies U-12 Development Team. Oranize, boy! Keep your shape! Communicate! Mark! This is “Defending 101”, and you can do it, you’re just panicking and not trying.

Accepting is not the same as surrendering. We still have five matches left, and that’s plenty of time to start the organization and good play we’re going to see next season.

Onward, Rose City!

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6 thoughts on “Radio Gaga

  1. I too feel for Boyd. The upside to him being subbed out early, for me anyhow, was not having to hear the entire populace of the bar I was at criticize and nitpick his every move. Ironically, when Dike would make the same mistakes, or not chase down a ball, or blow a chance, those same people seemed to be okay with it since it wasn’t our leading goalscorer. I don’t get it.

    1. Yeah, i don’t understand the argument that boyd is lazy and dike isn’t. It was especially evident in this game, boyd was actually all over the place in the 15 minutes he played, bright did a whole lot of standing around, not chasing the ball, and then losing the ball the second he got a touch. Sooooo frustrating that the fans are trying to run Boyd out of town and want Dike to start. It’s kind of embarrassing actually.

  2. I like Bright’s work ethic, and I like the chaos he wreaks in the opponent’s backline, but his poor touch and erratic finishing are making it increasingly difficult for me to see him as the “way forward”. I can see a place for him on the bench, but not as the starting striker.

    1. I’m starting to agree with you. I was pro-Dike for a long time, but against both Seattle and San Jose, he had last second opportunities to win it, and each time he missed. That’s hard to forgive.

  3. Dike just isn’t a starting striker. I have been hoping that he is getting all these starts to increase his trade value. I love watching him run through opposing defenses and knock people to the turf but Boyd and Mwanga are far better. I would like to see Boyd get into better shape so he can cause more turnovers by MLS defensemen.

    1. The thing is, Boyd isn’t the “knock ’em down” type striker, never really was from what I can tell. His specialty is the quick pounce on the through ball or the rebound and score. He’s a Cantona or Le Tiss type penalty box poacher, and that sort of player depends on a strike partner who can feed him as well as a midfielder or midfielders who can slot passes in to him, and we don’t have anyone like that now, and it’s unlikely that we will next season assuming that Porter brings anything like the style he plays at Akron with him.

      What I think is frustrating about this is that although Boyd was “Spencer’s guy” the system Spencer played – old-school whip-it-in-from-the-wings didn’t suit Boyd any better than it suited Kenny Cooper last season. That style forces your striker to do just what you’ve suggested; battle the centerback for the ball, win headers and crosses and power to the goal. Boyd isn’t that guy anymore than Cooper was.

      But we DO have some midfielders who can make that through pass, and have shown that since Spence’s departure has seen the team playing a more fluid, possession style; Alexander can, when he’s on form, Nagbe can, Chara can now and then, Franck Songo’o surely can, and Sal Zizzo can when he wants to. What hurts me to watch is that finally we seem to be playing in a way that could make Boyd more successful up top and he’s not playing.

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