Man, I’ve been crazy-busy these last few days, and somehow Kevin Alexander got his column out before I did. Which is fine, I say. He’s provided you the calm, considered, and logical analysis. Now I’m here to bring you the TRUTH.
1) Clearly, when you have a 2-2 tie, there must be somebody to blame. Obviously, in this case, we can blame the Chicago groundskeepers. Did you see the goalposts? They were GIGANTIC! They must have been three feet across. How else could we hit the woodwork twice in the first 30 seconds? Three times in the first four minutes? And Valeri’s goal was off the post, too. Ridiculous! Who do they think they’re fooling? Clearly, these posts were thicker than regulation. Don’t believe me? Did you see the Chicago groundskeepers dragging that big-ass goal to the opposite end at halftime? Hmm? Did you? I’ve scoured the internet and there is no video showing they DIDN’T switch the goals. That’s all the proof I need. Conspiracy, I say! Conspiracy!
I’ve already contacted the league commissioner. He says he’ll look into it.
2) Okay, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, let’s get serious. These ties are getting old, aren’t they? Yes, it’s wonderful that we haven’t lost on the road. Yes, it’s great that we can “learn a lesson,” as Coach Porter says, and still get a point on the road. Yes, yes, and yes again. But generally, teams make the playoffs because they WIN games. We’re sort of the opposite. We’re going to make the playoff by not losing. Am I complaining? I’m not sure. I’m really not. The “not losing” thing is great. But honestly, this is getting a little weird.
Love the spirit, fellas. Love the “refuse to lose” spirit. Now, let’s turn it up a notch. “Refuse to lose or tie” isn’t nearly as catchy, but let’s try it anyway. Three points from here on, what do you say?
3) That being said, you do realize we were missing four starters, right? 36% of our starting lineup was off playing for various national teams. How did the subs do? Pretty good, actually. At forward, Freddy Piquionne was everything we could ask for, actually. Two assists, good work rate all night. If he scores a couple goals before Ryan Johnson comes back, Coach Porter’s going to have a tough decision to make.
Ben Zemanski? I like him. Yes, his goal was super, but I liked him even without the goal. He’s fast, he’s disruptive, he’s always in the middle of things. Reminds me of Diego Chara. I don’t think Rodney Freakin’ Wallace’s starting spot is in danger, though.
Nor is Donovan Ricketts’s. Milos Kocic was only okay in goal, I thought. He couldn’t do a thing about that free kick goal. It was a perfect shot. But the other goal? Super-hard to tell what happened there, with bodies flying all over. Did Kocic drop it? Or was it knocked out of his hands? I dunno, but I do know this …
4) … I’ve just about had it with Andrew Jean-Baptiste. Not only will Futty Danso be starting the moment he steps off the plane from Gambia, it’s possible Jean-Baptiste will lose his job before then. To McKenzie, maybe? To Tucker-Gangnes? To me? I don’t know. But I know that every single game, Beast does something that scares the hell out of me. He’s either wrestling someone in the box or missing an assignment or running into the goalie. And do you remember how Coach was screaming at him during that US Open Cup game versus Wilmington? I think Beast’s position as a starter is in serious jeopardy. If anyone out there can tell me how I’m wrong and how Beast is a lot better than I realize, I’d love to hear it. Educate me.
5) A lot of people are screaming about how the Timbers fell apart as soon as Diego Valeri came out of the game, and I’m not going to contradict that. But I’m not sure we can complain too much, and here’s why: Caleb Porter’s not just managing the game, he’s managing the entire season. He knows we’ve got a ton of games coming up – important games, too – so he’s figuring out who needs rest, who needs to play. He’s worried about Valeri’s bad hamstring. He’s wondering if the international call-ups will be exhausted when they come back. He’s wondering who’ll be the next central defender to blow out their knee. So I can forgive him taking Valeri out of the game early. He’ll probably do the same with some other players in the next couple weeks. We’ve got a tough stretch ahead. Coach is thinking long-term.
6) So how do the next few weeks turn out? Well, obviously all my predictions have come true this year, so I’ll drop a few more on you. Feel free to call your bookie right away.
I think we crush Tampa Bay in tomorrow’s US Open Cup match. Our boys have a bad taste in their mouths. Tampa will pay the price.
Then a quick turnaround for a Saturday game and I think we eke out a tie versus Dallas. We’re at home, but Dallas is leading the league and we’ll be tired and undermanned. So, yes, another damn tie. Curse them.
And then ANOTHER quick turnaround for a Wednesday game against the LA Galaxy. We’ll still be tired and undermanned, only this time we’ll be in Los Angeles. To make it even tougher, we don’t know if we’ll be playing Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde. One week, LA is an overwhelming force. The next week, they’re getting shut out. And so, for my prediction, I fall back to the easy choice. A tie. Another damn tie.
It’s getting old, fellas.