Six Degrees: Raising The Bar

raising the bar


1) I watch most away games at home, but this time I went to a sports bar, and I gotta tell you, soccer’s more fun when you’re surrounded by fellow fans, all of them cheering, singing, crying, and bitching. I think I’m going to have to do this from now on.

Everyone at the bar was in agreement on our Man of the Match. Clearly Donovan Ricketts. And it’s not even close.

Yes, Ricketts had three shutouts in September, but in none of them did he truly amaze. The defense was sharp and he never had to make a lot of saves.

Sunday in Vancouver, he made up for it, with brilliant, world-class saves time after time. He had a double save at around the 75th minute that was truly breathtaking. Then he had a couple more save of the week nominees in extra time. Without him standing on his head, Vancouver scores 5 or 6 goals and I’m writing a very different column.

Has there ever been a week where all five MLS Save of the Week saves were by the same guy? Because Donovan might do it this week. He was out of his friggin’ mind. Vancouver was desperate, they were throwing everything they had at us, and our defense let them get far too many quality shots on goal. Ricketts turned almost all of them away.

He was struggling in July and August, but the Iron Lion of Zion is back in a big, big way. Which bodes well for us once the playoffs start.

2) Our first goal was caused, once again, by Maximiliano Urruti’s high pressure. Maxi made the Vancouver goalie panic and hit a crap clearance. Will Johnson intercepts, hands it off to Darlington Nagbe, who did what he does: bring the awesome.

In any other game, I’d probably spend some time here talking about how fabulous Nagbe’s 30-yard bomb was, but let’s be honest, after what happened later in the game, it was somewhat forgettable.

So instead, I’ll use this spot to compliment Urruti, just like I did last week. I love Portland’s high pressure defense, and from the very beginning of the year thought Ryan Johnson was brilliant at harassing the opposing strikers/goalies. And he was. But Maxi has come in and is doing it even better. His high pressure has been responsible for two goals in the last three games. I’m the founder and sole member of the Ryan Johnson Fan Club, but I think I might need to start a second club for Maxi, because the guy’s delivering in a big, big way. Welcome to team, kid. Now, please go to Gavin’s office and sign a 12-year contract. Take a few guys with you.

3) So, because of Nagbe’s goal, I was feeling pretty good about things when the 75th minute rolled around. We had the lead and Vancouver wasn’t really threatening. Then everything went insane.

Time – 75:32 – Camilo’s free kick.

It’s hard for me to give that little turd Camilo too much credit for this shot, because it deflected off Rodney Freakin’ Wallace’s head. If not for that deflection, the ball’s going straight into the goalie’s hands. So is it Camilo’s goal, or an own goal? The official MLS scorer is calling it a goal for Camilo, but I question this.

The guys in the bar and I couldn’t decide what qualifies as an own goal. Maybe one of my brilliant readers can tell us? How is that shot off RodWal’s head not an own goal? What would be required to turn it into an own goal? Ricketts looked all messed up, that’s for sure. He got no jump on that thing, almost as if he’d been going for the original trajectory, only to have RFW mess things up with his head. Sounds like an own goal to me, but not to the official MLS scorer. Anyone out there want to educate me?

Okay, all that aside, let’s talk about the emotional impact of that stupid goal. The bar I was in went completely silent. I had my face in my hands, the guy next to me was shaking his head. All you could hear were a few muttered oaths and the Vancouver fans cheering on the TV.

And then…

4) Time – 76:35 – Will Johnson equalizes.

EXPLOSION! Remember the first LA home game, when Jean-Baptiste scored the winner in extra time? And Jeld-Wen nearly collapsed from the general freak out? Well, I’m not gonna say we matched that in the bar, but it was definitely close. I was standing on my bar stool, yelling so loud and so long and so continuously, that I was actually getting light headed and worried I’d pass out. That’s how geeked the entire bar was after that Will Johnson goal. It was insanity, in every sense of the world. When we finally quieted enough to speak, the guy next to me at the bar said, “the Vancouver fans weren’t even done cheering for their goal when that went…”

And just as he was saying that…

5) Time – 77:56 – Camilo scores again.

You want to take the oxygen out of a sports bar? Do what Camilo did. Instant silence.

You know how I wasn’t sure we could give Camilo credit for that first goal? Well, don’t worry, I’m giving him full credit for this one. Sweet Mother of God, what a shot. In fact, I think the aesthetic beauty of the goal sort of takes away some of the pain. I mean, if we’d let in some piece of crap goal caused by poor marking or bad keeping? That would have hurt much worse. But this wonder goal? All we could do in the bar was shake our heads and appreciate it.

People are already suggesting it might win MLS Goal of the Year. Personally, I’m voting for Valeri’s four-touch-volley against New York. But I’m also a complete homer.

All of that aside, my main point here is that the brilliance of that last goal took away some of the pain. Yes, it turned a win into a draw, but still… did you see it? Fabulous. Absolutely breath-taking. The little turd.

6) Okay, a couple very quick points and I’ll get out of here.

Will Johnson – Did anyone see what caused Will to start bleeding in extra time? Vancouver’s Manneh was in the 18, Futty breathes on him, he goes down, and the next thing I know, Futty, Kah, and Ricketts are all holding Manneh back, like a bar fight’s going to break out. Meanwhile, Will’s bleeding. What the hell happened? Does anyone know? I haven’t seen any video to show what happened there.

Seattle Sounders – Here’s what I need from you guys: a complete and total collapse to end the season. You make a good start of it this weekend, losing 5-1 to Colorado. Nice job. Now keep up the good work! Losing to Vancouver on Wednesday would be a great next step, then you can keep it going here in Portland next Sunday. I don’t want close losses, either. If you guys really apply yourselves, you can finish this season the way you started it, with a big giant crapfest. I believe in you, Seattle! Let’s do this!

8 thoughts on “Six Degrees: Raising The Bar

  1. Comparisons to the LA game are appropriate, as it may take the same amount of time to recover. And they say soccer is boring…

  2. In terms of own goals. the official definition (at least for most major leagues, haven’t specifically checked the MLS rule) is that if the shot was going on target before the deflection it’s not an own goal. If it clearly wasn’t on target before the deflection it is an own goal.

      1. agree that that’s the rule, though I also agree with you that Rickett’s has the original trajectory locked down, no problem. No way it was going to trouble him as it was headed straight for him and he had his eyes on it. That’s why he had no shot at it after it left Wallace’s head; no time to react.

        Oh well, that’s part of the joy of soccer, even when it sometimes doesn’t go your way.

      2. I wish we could count that goal towards Rodney’s season total. I’m all excited that we could be the first team in MLS history with five guys scoring at least 8 goals. Rodney’s stuck at six and we’ve only got four games left. I think Coach needs to get on this and tell everyone to feed Rodney the ball.

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