Tag Archives: Pa Modou Kah

Six Degrees: Dare To Dream?

daretodream


1) Sunday’s 1-0 victory over LA was an interesting game, with both good and bad.

Good: the Timbers looked dangerous for long stretches. Bad: they couldn’t turn that into shots on goal.
Bad: the Galaxy kept breaking out in numbers. Good: then they’d get shut down by our backs.
Good: it was super-fun to cheer in the cold and rain. Bad: I’m pretty sure I now have that Chinese bird flu. Continue reading Six Degrees: Dare To Dream?

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Six Degrees: Breaking Bad

breakingbad


1) No big surprise, yesterday’s loss has me in a bit of a funk. This column definitely has the potential to slide off the road and into an icy ditch of despair. I’ll do my best, though. Both hands on the wheel and all that.

I’ll just start with the big picture: going into the game yesterday, everything was against us. We had tons of injuries. We had a key suspension. We had some gimpy old guys in the starting lineup. And we did it all in front of 67,000 self-congratulating-but-not-all-that-noisy fans.

Lesser teams would have folded. Our boys didn’t and we can be proud of that. They went in there and gave Seattle everything they could handle.

2) But to be honest, we gave it to them a whole lot more in the first half than in the second.

To my eyes, these were probably the two most different halves of the entire season. We looked great in the first, we looked awful in the second. At the end of the first half, I was supremely confident. At the end of the second half, I wanted to break stuff.

What happened? A number of things. For starters, they completely eliminated Diego Valeri as a factor. He was dominant in the first half, he was invisible in the second.

Things also shifted when they put Mauro Rosales into the game. They banged in the opening goal a few minutes later and we were pretty much worthless for the rest of the game.

We’ve become used to Caleb Porter making brilliant halftime adjustments, but it seems that in this game, he was outdone by Sigi Schmid and his enormous belly. Whatever he said in the Seattle locker room at halftime worked. The balance of play shifted completely.

3) For the game this weekend in Salt Lake, we’ll be getting Diego Chara back from suspension, but I have a feeling that when the MLS disciplinary committee looks at the weekend’s game film, they’ll be giving a brand new suspension to Pa Modou Kah. Did he intentionally knee Eddie Johnson in the head? I’m not sure, but my instinct tells me that MLS is going to sit him down.

The funny thing is, I’m not sure I mind that much. I don’t entirely trust Kah. He just seems a little crazy, you know? I like the intensity, I like the passion, but I’m constantly worried he’s going to step over the line, that he’s going to kick someone in the face (oh, wait… he already did that…) or knee someone in the head (oops… that too…) or maybe start a bench-clearing brawl (hasn’t happened yet, but it’s not out of the question, is it?). He’s just a red card waiting to happen.

I’d love to see Futty Danso come back from injury and take that starting spot next to Beast. He may not be as fast as Kah, but he’s better in the air, he’s got veteran wiles, and he’ll just restore a little sanity to the back line. Sorry, Kah. There’s a lot I like about you, but I can’t take the crazy anymore.

4) I feel terrible even saying it out loud, but what the hell is going on with Donovan Ricketts? He was our rock. Our foundation. He was the one guy on the field we could count on, fully and completely. These last four or five games? He’s been a shell of his former self. Suddenly, he’s old and stiff. He’s allowing rebounds on shots he’d have gobbled up earlier in the year. After going the whole season as the team’s MVP, he now feels like a weak link.

Maybe it’s injury, maybe it’s fatigue, but I’m really wondering if it’s time to bench him. (God, I feel awful saying that…) Maybe he needs to sit for a few games, let all his injuries heal, get good and rested, then come back for the last few weeks. Milos Kocic is a pretty good backup. Let’s put him in there. Could he be any shakier than my man Donovan’s been?

And you are still my man, Donovan, I swear. I just don’t want to see you like this. I want to see you healthy and energetic and dominant. Take a month off, okay? I think it’s for the best.

5) Some player quick-takes:

Diego Valeri and Darlington Nagbe – Absolute superstars.

Ryan Johnson – I’ve had your back all season, bro, but that wasn’t the best game for you. Come back strong against RSL so all the haters will shut up.

Kalif Alhassan – You absolutely killed it, supersub. You’ve earned more playing time, I think.

Alvas Powell – After four games, I’m convinced. You’re the real deal. Let’s make this loan permanent.

Osvaldo Alonso (Seattle) – You sir, are a thug. Did you beat up Nagbe after the game, too? Mug him in the parking lot? Take his wallet?

Clint Dempsey (Seattle) – It’s a shame you didn’t get into the game Sunday. Oh, wait… you DID? Sorry. I missed it.

6) The rest of this season is going to be a slog. Players are already breaking down physically. The psychology of a playoff chase is going to be tough on them, too. For the rest of the year, every game will feel like a must-win, and that can be exhausting. I know it’s wearing me out. I’m a mess.

We have nine games left, only three of them easy: Toronto at home and two road games at Chivas (I’ve been thinking of those as sure-fire wins, but then yesterday the Goats beat New York, so maybe it’s not automatic after all.)

Regardless, those three are pretty much our only easy games. The rest of the schedule is nothing but playoff teams. Real Salt Lake. Colorado. Los Angeles. Vancouver. Seattle. Real Salt Lake again.

This time last year? I wasn’t all stressed out like this. The Timbers sucked and had no chance at the playoffs. This year, they’re good, they’re in the hunt, and I’m an emotional wreck. Funny how that works.

Timbers: Damn the Flow

Damn the flow


Seventy-nine minutes into the match, Darlington Nagbe was fouled by Steven Lenhart. Nothing surprising there as only David Ferrera and Javier Morales have been fouled more often than Nagbe this season, and the five fouls suffered by the Timbers attacker in this game took him past the 46 fouls he’d suffered in the whole of 2012. He’s basically getting kicked at twice the rate which reflects the Timbers greater attacking presence and his role within it.

San Jose’s 18 fouls committed sets a season high, and it’s the first time since March 2012 that the Earthquakes have been in such an ugly mood, which is saying something for a team with Steven Lenhart among their number.

Lenhart DefenceSpeaking of Lenhart, it’s kinda interesting, I think, to note that the striker committed three fouls in the match, all in the last fifteen minutes. And yet none of them were in his one half as San Jose pressed high and we struggled to break them down despite piling on the pressure. The foul on Nagbe, with him going back to his own goal, came three minutes before the Timbers were back in the game, but they blew their chance to grab a point late on, having surrendered two cheap goals after the break.

The first came from the penalty spot, so we can just chalk that one up to bad luck, because refs aren’t infallible you know, right?

Ach, you know what, I’ve watched it and gone from dubious but plausible, to a dive, to a Bale-like “searching for contact” move and it just underlines how hard all this is to do on the fly for one official. In this case the assistant had a ton of bodies between him and the ball and the ref’s view meant he was reliant on reading the body language of the players and direction of the ball to judge.

I know if it’s Nagbe going down there in exactly the same way, I’m screaming for the penalty. In this case we were on the wrong end of a call, but for all we pin this on the ref, the most interesting thing for me is that we were the architects of our own downfall.

SanJoseGoal1

A simple giveaway by Jack Jewsbury puts us on the back foot, and perhaps Chara nips Salinas in the heels whereas Zemanski seems to stumble and ease the pressure on the San Jose player, but the end result is we take our our fate and put it right in the hands of the referee in front of a home crowd.

That it came as something of a shock that the Timbers conceded the next goal is a testament to the spirit in the team this year, but it too came with a stink of poor officiating on it. Was Lenhart offside? Sure looks likes it in the freeze frame, but once again if we’d done our job it would’ve never been an issue in the first place.

SanJose Goal2The free kick sees the Timbers line-up in a row of five, with three active San Jose attackers and one passive. Theoretically, we’ve got a man spare with a 6’ 4” Jamaican as a last reserve, so all looks good until Jack Jewsbury gets drawn into the melee for the ball leaving Lenhart all alone at the back.

Both of these injustices were easily avoided by our own actions, so yeah, blame the refs, but that’s not going to help sort out the underlying problems that the officiating masks.

Our defense has generally been good this season, but that’s not to say it’s not being stretched on a weekly basis. A lot of our defensive success can be put down to Ricketts rolling back the years, but with Jewsbury at least partly culpable in the loss of both goals this week it shows what can happen when even a single part of that defensive wall starts to chip away.

The giveaways are unusual for Jewsbury, who is one of the team’s better performers in terms of passing accuracy.

Timbers San Jose Passing AccuracyOver the last two games only Ben Zemanski and Darlington Nagbe have shown greater accuracy than Jewsbury, but not all mispasses are equal as Jack has shown already. It’s a thin line for the likes of Jewsbury and his counterpart on the left, or the right, Michael Harrington to walk as they have to be able to judge when to push the play forward or keep it circulating.

Both of these guys have been among the busiest players on the team over the past two games, receiving successful passes for teammates over 60 times each. Nagbe and Valeri lead the way in this regard and by using these passing stats we can build up a map of the Timbers play against Philadelphia and San Jose so we can see how things changed.


Balancing the Attack

Passing Maps Combined

These pictures use the players average position over the match, and the wider the lines, the more passes between those players. This passing map shows us the primary avenues of play in the Timbers team by highlighting those players that exchanged the most passes.

What is noticeable is that the Timbers “network” was much more widespread against San Jose. Ryan Johnson is an isolated figure against Philadelphia, and his lack of involvement down that side is a stark contrast to the work of Rodney Wallace against San Jose. Welcome back, Rodney.

Wallace added a left side to the attack that stopped us playing in little triangles far from goal, but Ryan Johnson was only marginally more connected this time despite playing through the middle from the start.

The only two players with whom he shared more than seven passes were Donovan Ricketts and Michael Harrington, which tells you that Johnson wasn’t getting involved with his feet and this was leaving a big hole in the middle in te first half.

You can see by the positions of the subs that came on (the lighter green) that the Timbers were in attack mode from the bench, with Piquionne in particular adding a lot to the attack. In his half hour stint against the Quakes, Piquionne logged five shots.

A couple of moments aside, it was another Ryan Johnson performance that gave me some trouble remembering that guy who scored all those goals against San Jose in preseason, and who looked like the ideal spearhead of Porter’s attack. His recent form isn’t great.

After Johnson started 12 of the first 13 games, with four goals for his efforts, Frederic Piquionne commanded his place for the next few. Johnson has started the past four games, scoring in the comeback win against LA, but failing to complete a full 90 mins, with only 5 shots in all that time. By contrast, over the same four games The FP has had 8 shots at goal, or one every 19 minutes to Johnson’s 57 minutes. But then, for all Piquionne is getting shots off he’s generally wayward or blocked with only 2 of 8 shots on target compared to Johnson’s 3 of 5. So, yeah.


Creative Minds

Returning to the passing stats above for a moment though, the ball found its way to Nagbe and Valeri most often which you would certainly expect in an attacking team.

Nagbe Valeri combined passes last 30 mins SJThe duo traded 17 passes over the last match, a figure only topped by the 20 passes between Nagbe and Jewsbury, and the 18 between Harrington and Will Johnson, yet it was only in the last 30 minutes of the match against the Quakes that we really saw the partnership become effective.

A triangle of attacking play, with the apex pointed towards the San Jose goal reflected the pressing of the Timbers having given up the lead and being spurred into more direct action. This kind of play was in stark contrast to the play we’d seen from them previously.

Nagbe  Valeri comparison

Against Philly we saw neither player put significant passes into the box, but against San Jose, and largely in that last half hour as we saw earlier, suddenly Valeri began putting the ball into the most dangerous part of the pitch and Nagbe was there to profit from one such ball forward.

TimbersGoal

These kind of passes from Valeri come with a big reward at a high risk, with perhaps no greater example than Valeri’s flicked pass for Will Johnson in the first half. You know, there’s a part of me that’s annoyed with Will Johnson for missing that because that pass deserved a goal at the other end of it.

There’s a good reason why his teammates give him the ball so often despite his seeming wastefulness, and it’s not just because Coach Porter told them to. They know what he can do and you put up with the odd bad pass or misread signal here to there if you can get to the gold like these (near) assists.

Meanwhile, if you look at Nagbe’s 90% success rate, a lot of those passes are sideways with very few penetrating passes. True, a larger part of his game is built on driving with the ball at his feet for forward movement than is Valeri’s, but it was only when he began buzzing around the edge of the box that i was reminded of what i’d missed in his recent run of mature, reliable performances – the danger he brings to the attack.

The goal was his 6th of the season, but his 1st in over a month. Coming as it did, only three minutes after Lenhart had fouled him in his own half, the goal was the perfect response by Nagbe and put the side on the road to almost claiming a point, had Piquionne only picked a yard either side of Jon Busch for his late header.

So we return to where we started, Timbers on the receiving end of some tough play and poor officiating but able to take heart, I think, from the fact that we don’t need to blame this result on these factors because we can blame ourselves.

Seriously, go with me, how great is it to feel like we lost today because we blew it, not the ref? Had Johnson tucked that chance away, or Jewsbury not slacked off for a fraction of a second (twice), or Freddie picked a corner, we’re looking at a very different result and that’s all down to us putting ourselves in the position to have these chances at all.

Last year we weren’t putting ourselves in a position to blow it by not putting away these chances, so the losses felt very different. This won’t be shrugged off as just bad luck or a bad day at the office because every game is a lesson at this stage on the team’s redevelopment but neither will it be overly dwelt upon because there’s too much work still to be done.


A Good Trend

Our passing and chance creation improved dramatically against San Jose and this is encouraging, but what is less so is the lack of goals from recognised goal getters. Piquionne’s touch was good and Johnson’s got a good eye for goal even if he’s finding him starved of the ball when everyone is feasting around him, but neither of them are scoring.

Three goals in four games for the Timbers isn’t good enough. The strikers have contributed to two goals in that time – Johnson’s strike against LA and Piquionne’s assist for Nagbe against San Jose this week.

If not these two, who? Dike is still some time away, so that leaves Valencia? While it would be nice to see Trencito let loose from the start, aside from a late cameo against Vancouver last May where he scored and had three shots in thirteen minutes of action, he’s rarely been used as an attacking threat, and despite over an hour of play over the past four matches, he’s failed to take a single shot at goal.

Throwing him into a Cascadia Cup match, against a team two points behind us in the table, would be a big risk and games like this call upon an old head.

Zemanski subbed for Chara, and there was very much a sense that it was a subbing with the Colombian’s place on hold for now. Zemanski did well, neat and tidy on the ball and, as the passing maps above show, matching Chara’s performance in many respects.

Chara could return as early as next week, so you’d expect him to start which leaves the question of Jewsbury’s role. He was at fault for both goals, but is generally a positive part of the team. Ryan Miller, and potentially even Ben Zemanski, are candidates to take over if the run of games is getting to Jack. These guys bring something different to the team, but having run with this backline for bit, perhaps Porter will refer to stick with what’s worked in the psat and trust that he and his team can work on the errors that were made that we can actually do something about now.


Kah, the original playmaker

One thing that came out of the research for this post was how important Pa Modou Kah is to the Timbers. Only Jewsbury can join the exclusive club of players who have received the ball more often than Kah, along with Valeri and Nagbe. These four were the only players to be consistently involved in over 20% of the team’s successful passing moves in both the last two matches, highlighting Kah’s role as a defensive playmaker, every bit as influential in his own way as Diego Valeri at the other end.

His most regular links were with Jean-Baptiste and Harrington, which makes sense, and he was often a source of balls into midfield or even straight to his attacker counterpart. He linked up with Nagbe against Philly, and found Valeri more often against San Jose.

In the absence of Silvestre, Kah has stepped into the defensive playmaker role, setting the tempo and dictating the angle of the next probe at the defence. It comes without the glory of Valeri’s position, but is a large part of why the team is able to keep its shape without resorting to long ball football.

It also comes with a high degree of risk as Kah found out a while ago and Jewsbury did tonight where all your good work can be undone by a couple of mad moments. Kah recovered from his stumble to put in assured performances lately, so we’ll see if Jewsbury can bounce back, though after being roasted by Danny Cruz it’s hard to shake the feeling that it might be time for Jack to rest those legs up in anticipation of a potentially longer-than-we’re-used-to season.

Defeats are never easy to take, but lessons will be learnt from this one and actions put in place so that we don’t make those mistakes again, I’m sure. We’ll stumble again, that’s certain, but it’s the picking ourselves back up that matters.


Decisive

No one likes to lose but I get the sense that defeat is literally painful to Caleb Porter, as in he’ll be spending his Sunday racked in agonizing stomach cramps all because the Universe dared to fuck with His Divine Plan. The Whitecaps will fancy their chances of taking something considering the Timbers poor run, but the match gives the home side the chance to equal their record of 5 straight wins in front of the Army – a record set when Jeld-Wen first opened – as well as putting some distance on our rivals and putting yet another tough July behind us.

What is it about that month that the Timbers don’t like? 4 points from 4 games this season is better than 3 points in 6 games last year and the 4 points in 5 of 2011, but it’s still slim pickings. The bright side is that 3 of those 4 games this season were on the road, which means the Timbers are about to embark of a run of three straight home matches.

Caleb Porter won’t be thinking (on the record) beyond Vancouver, of course, but past them lie FC Dallas and Real Salt Lake; every one a potential playoff rival.

If July was tough, August is downright crucial. Those three matches are followed by trips to Seattle and RSL in a month that will cast a long shadow over the Timbers campaign one way or another.

It’s not a time we want an attack floundering or a defence showing cracks, but no one said football was fair. It’s tough waters ahead, but a win against Vancouver puts the Timbers on the right foot to build momentum towards the playoffs.

Six Degrees: All Things Must Pass

allthings

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:

Darlington Nagbe

– 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.

Ben Zemanski

– 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.

Donovan Ricketts

– 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.

Six Degrees: Vampire Weekend

Compared to last week, this game was refreshingly free of both the inane and the absurd, so I think there will be a lot less comedy from me. Which is a shame, since my soccer analysis can be both inane and absurd. I’ll give it a try anyway.

1) I wouldn’t call this the prettiest game we’ve ever played, but we still won, 2-0, didn’t we? Part of that is because DC United sucks. But it’s also because we’re a very good team, and very good teams win the ugly ones.

Why was it so ugly? Well, from what Coach Porter’s saying, the loss of Diego Valeri required us to play a more direct style, with less possession, more punting, and a slightly uglier aesthetic. If you look at the statistics, you’ll see that DC had a higher percentage of possession, more total passes, and more shots. Fortunately for us, every time DC got the ball in front of the net, they blew it, spraying shots at everything except the goal. We were lucky. If we give up those kind of opportunities to a good team, we lose.

2) Possibly we gave up so many chances because we had a new guy in the back four. Pa Modou Kah is certainly a lot more experienced than 20-year old Andrew Jean-Baptiste, but he’s also only been on the team a week and a half. He’ll be better next game.

But what about that next game? What happens when Futty Danso comes back from his red card? Does Kah stay in? Personally, I think he should. Jean-Baptiste makes me a little nervous, always wrestling with guys back there. He seems like a penalty kick waiting to happen.

And I like the idea Kah and Futty back there together. This whole “Great Wall of Gambia” thing we’ve got going on is fascinating. But I will admit, there are questions. For starters, who’s in charge, Futty or Kah? More importantly, will they have theme music and costumes? I think they should wear vampire teeth. And yes, I’m completely serious. Think of the intimidation factor. The opposing team will hear rumors that we’ve got two big tall Gambians back there, but they won’t know what to expect. How could they? Does anyone know what happens when you play two Gambian centerbacks side-by-side? Maybe they grow vampire teeth. I say we give it a try. (Editor’s Note: I love African football)

3) Three words. Rodney Freakin’ Wallace. The guy’s a machine, isn’t he? Non-stop energy, from start to finish. I saw him rockin’ it on the left side, the right side, forward, back, middle. He’s everywhere. You know how much I love Diego Chara, right? Well, everything Chara does for our defense, RFW is doing for our offense. And how about that goal, eh? An absolute laser right between the goalie and the near post. That’s a world-class strike, right there. Does MLS give an award for Most Improved Player, because if so, they might as well start inscribing the trophy right now.

4) Also fabulous: Darlington Nagbe. For years we’ve been begging him to be more aggressive. Well, Valeri’s absence Saturday must have flipped that switch, because Nags came out firing. I love it when he’s got the ball at his feet and decides to pin his ears back and run straight at the defense. He’s a blur. His aggressive play and shots from distance really opened things up for the rest of the team. The question now is whether this sort of energy will continue once Valeri’s back on the field. And should it? There’s a side of me that wonders if perhaps everything we saw versus DC was a one-time thing.

5) Case in point: we started the game with two strikers – Ryan Johnson and Frederic Piquionne. You’d expect them to be the scorers, right? Except they weren’t. In this weird, direct offense we had Saturday, the scorers became the playmakers and the playmakers became the scorers.

RFW’s goal? That happened because Freddy Piquionne got the ball, held it for a few seconds, let the defense rush out to stop him, then flipped a nice little pass to the suddenly wide-open Wallace. One missile strike later, we’re up 1-0.

Nagbe’s goal? Similar, except this time it was Ryan Johnson holding the ball, pulling the defense to him, then lofting it forward. Nags fights off not one, not two, but three DC defenders, then sends it through the keepers legs.

I’m starting to wonder if there really is no single, definable offense that we can call “Porterball.” Caleb Porter seems to mix it up just a bit for every single game. And when we face Chicago, with Valeri back on the pitch, I’m sure that, once again, we’ll see something new.

6) So, we lost to Montreal way back in early March. Since then, 11 straight games without a loss. When does it end?

Probably not against Chicago. It’s a road game, yes, but Chicago’s really not that good.

After that, we host Dallas, who only have the best record in the league. Still, it’s at home. I say the streak’s safe for that one.

It’s the next week when I think we finally lose. We visit the LA Galaxy on June 19th and, lemme tell ya, they could not have looked better this Sunday night, destroying Seattle 4-0. They dominated every aspect of the game. Offense, defense, set pieces, possession. They looked like the best team in the league. So if our streak has to end – and it does – then I think it’s against LA.

But until then, let’s enjoy ourselves, right? I saw some heavy legs against DC, so I think we’re having our week off at just the right time. Take it easy, boys. Spend these next two weeks getting healthy, then come back against Chicago tanned, rested, and ready to go.

And please, please, PLEASE bring your vampire teeth.