Finn’s Five: Green Shoots in Tucson

Last year, when indisposed, I was fortunate enough to have Jeremy Wright step in and cover me with a fantastic recap of the victory against the Rapids. If you’ve been here before, and I assume you have, you’ll know that I have a tendency to be rather long-winded in my match reports so I’m happy to say that Jeremy has volunteered to contribute his own “quick hit” take of the matches in 2013, which will, I’m sure, provide a nice compliment to my own reports.

The first “Finn’s Five” of 2013 just so happens to cover another victory against the Rapids. Enjoy.

1) If today’s performance is any indicator our new DP Diego Valeri is a stud. Yes his goal was very pretty but look beyond that at the more subtle things he did especially in his positive “north-south” movement with or without the ball. Nagbe is gonna love playing with Valeri. We are going to love watching Nagbe play with Valeri.

2) The team has really bought into the Caleb Porter version of the Barca style “high pressure, high up the pitch, hunt the ball like a pack of wolves” system. I’m excited about this but there is a down side. If we are going to play this way than it means a high defensive line and I’m pretty damn sure not one of the four central defenders we have is up for it. We are going to get beat over the top a lot this year. Get used to it as the team adjusts and personnel are found wanting.

3) I noticed our outside midfielders far less than in the past two years watching this club in MLS. Trust me folks, this is a good thing.

4) I love me some Diego Chara but if he’s gonna stay on the pitch with Will Johnson and Valeri he’s gonna need to do more than be an engine that kicks the shit out of people and disrupts play. The quality level has risen in our midfield and thus expectations have as well.

5) El Trencito left me wanting more. A lot more. The power, the pace, the skill…

10 thoughts on “Finn’s Five: Green Shoots in Tucson

  1. Nice report, Jeremy. I love forward to more.

    My thoughts on the “pack of wolves” defense.
    1) I friggin’ loved it.
    2) I worry it will wear our boys down. They only had to do it for 45 minutes today. Their fitness will need to be sky-high if they want to have that kind of defensive intensity for 90 minutes.
    3) However, I still friggin’ loved it.

  2. Hi All…

    The OP made a very good point that really needs to be taken seriously…that with this new style of play that the Timbers are using, we are going to be extremely vulnerable to the counter attack…and the MLS IS a counter attack league.

    If you watch Barca play, they usually give up their goals off of counters. They push up relentlessly and aggressively…but…even with their enormous skill level as a team, they still lose the ball, and their opponents still have mid and forward players that have more than enough speed and agility and skill to beat the Barca defense on quick developing counter plays.

    The Timbers defense is certainly upgraded to a fair/good degree over last year…but…it is by no means air tight, and the defensive learning curve in the 4-3-3 is rather steep.

    Strategically, our opponents may begin to play against us, using a soccer version of Muhammad Ali’s “Rope-a-Dope” defense, perhaps like Canada did against the CP coached USMNT U-23 Olympic Team. They will bunker back and dare us to push more of our players up further and further into the attack…then…bam…a quick dispossession and it is off the races. Also…as the game wears on, and as we tire, and we WILL tire in this more aggressive attacking format…well…

    This style is definitely exciting…and very definitely a high risk/high reward proposition.

    Let the roller coaster ride begin!

    Best Regards

    1. The trick is to control possession, so that when they swarm the ball to regain possession its short bursts once in awhile. Prevent the counter by controlling possession…but yea, no one can chase for 90 min.

  3. Part of the possession game is to wear the other team down. Make THEM chase the ball for 90 minutes. Hopefully this can help offset the need to race back on counterattacks.

    1. Hi dm…

      The problem with that…”make THEM chase the ball for 90 minutes”…is that most teams just will not do that. Most teams, faced with the offensive style that Portland will be playing, are going to likely play defense one of two ways. The first way would be for the team to just “bunker down” and let Portland ping the ball around at the 25 yard, or so, mark…and then wait to apply pressure once we decide to push into the 18 yard box…and the Second way is…they will wait for the ball to go one of our players whom they feel they can knock the ball from, or to a side of our team where they feel are players are more vulnerable, and then be very physical in the defensive attack…and THEN try to spring the counter attack quickly.

      If you go to YouTube and watch that “Death by 1000 Passes” video of the Akron Zips under Caleb Porter’s coaching, you can see that Akron is quite content to just form little triangles and just bounce the ball around…almost like watching the Harlen Globetrotters “Magic Circle” warm-up routine. They are very methodical and patient, almost to the point of dull, and in that video, almost all of the defenses of the other teams are playing extremely soft and passive, not doing a lot of chasing until Akron pushes numbers inside the 18.

      It seems a given that with this new style, and the 4-3-3 formation, we will control quite a bit of the overall possession…but that does not mean that it will translate into a purely attacking possession style. It is not going to look like Barca…but…other than Barca…who does?

  4. Did the match against KC give anyone a little glimpse of Trencito looking sharp? I thought he looked strong, fast, and unselfish to a fault.

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