CI DeMann continues his Six Degrees match reports with a look at the game that ended the Timbers’ long unbeaten run, a 1-0 loss in Columbus. Is there such a thing as a good loss?
1) When your team has a long unbeaten streak, is there a good way for it to end? How would you choose for your team to finally lose? Well, clearly, you’d want a loss that would inspire the team to do great things for the rest of the year, right? But what would that look like?
Would it be a 5-0 loss? Would that shake up the locker room properly?
How about losing on a couple last-second goals, like LA did in San Jose last week? That might inspire the team. Or it might just leave them broken.
Here’s a possibility: what if you lost by being a man down for essentially the entire game, and you were still somehow the better team, even if you could never quite even things up? Would that be the best way to lose? Would that inspire the team to come right back and start a new winning streak?
I have no idea, but we’ll find out, won’t we?
2) The thing is, I was feeling super confident when the game started. Columbus had four starters making their MLS debut. A couple were making professional debuts. I figured we’d stomp ’em. We were rested, confident, and our defense was playing beautifully. Especially the new guy, Pa Modou Kah.
Boy, Kah sucked yesterday, didn’t he? I know he was on the field for only 10 minutes, but he looked rough the whole time. Questionable passes across the field. Lazy defending, which led to fouls. He’s been so fantastic these last few games, but yesterday something was wrong from the start. And then he went and kicked some dude in the face.
But I’ll say this: Kah’s going to come back strong. In all the interviews I’ve seen, he seems like a really stand up guy. He’ll take full responsibility for this and come back in a big way. He’ll work extra hard to make it up to his teammates and to us. I really believe this. Kah’s a good guy.
3) I’m semi-fascinated with the penalty kick Columbus striker Frederico Higuain missed. Specifically, the psychological aspects.
If there are any former players reading this who want to help educate me, here’s the question: if the goalie guesses correctly (like our man Donovan Ricketts did) and dives straight to where the kicker wants to put it, does that change the kick at all? In that millisecond when Higuain was swinging at the ball, did he see Donovan going his way? And did he panic and send the ball off-target? In other words, did Donovan guessing right make Higuain miss the PK? Or was it just a bad kick?
Either way, thank goodness for that miss, right? Being down a man is tough when it’s 1-0. At 2-0, there’s pretty much no hope.
4) Let’s do some quick player reviews:
– I thought it was a good game for Nags, but maybe this is just in comparison to Valeri, who was invisible. Plus, once or twice Darlington got that pissed off look to him, which is always thrilling/terrifying.
– I still really like this guy. Am I wrong? He reminds me a little of Diego Chara, only tall, white, and gangly.
Jack Jewsbury and Futty Danso
– Remember in the preseason when we all thought these guys were done? Certainly dropped from the regular rotation, possibly the team? Well, that shows what we know, right? These two guys are becoming MVPs. Old, solid, and reliable has never looked so good.
– Speaking of old, solid, and reliable, the Iron Lion of Zion is just ridiculous these days, isn’t he? I was watching an online stream, so I got to hear the Columbus play-by-play guys. They were raving about Ricketts so much, I thought they were gonna go down on the field and ask him to the prom.
5) I feel I learned a lot about soccer watching the Columbus game. Specifically, the whole idea of maintaining possession. Oh, sure, we’ve been doing it all year, and I’m totally into it, but against Columbus, after going a man down, we held the ball with true desperation. Keeping possession seemed even more important to Coach Porter than usual, and over the course of the game, I began to understand why. One, it may have tired Columbus a bit, chasing us around the field, trying to get the ball back. But more importantly, it meant WE weren’t chasing the ball. Getting the ball back is always tiring, but with only 10 guys? It would have been fatal.
Also, our slow, lazy, deliberate passing in the back may have lulled Columbus to sleep a bit. For most of the game, we were the actors, they were the re-actors. We were passing the ball around, they were watching us do it. Keep that up long enough, maybe both teams and the entire stadium forget that it’s 10 vs 11.
6) And in the end, that’s kind of what happened. Let’s face it: despite the final score, we were the better team yesterday. They were just the team with more players. By the end of the game, it was clear which team the Columbus play-by-play guys respected more. They were applauding our fight, our organization, our strategy. What did they say about Columbus? Not much, really. Officially, Columbus won the game. Unofficially, I kinda sorta think Portland did.
So was that the perfect way for the unbeaten streak to end? I’m not sure. I just know I feel sorry for the LA Galaxy coming in here on Saturday. We’re going to take our frustrations out on them. And we’ll have a full 11 men to do it with.