Saturday, September 25, 2010

When you get to a certain age, there is no coming back.

That's a great quote from former England and club manager, Brian Clough.   I just finished watching "The Damned United" which threads its way with an unflinching eye through Clough's career,  and I thought it was that rare treat,  a movie about the game which also is an extraordinary movie about the dynamics of a brilliant, flawed, larger than life personality.   The Caine Mutiny and Captain Queeg come to mind, for the latter.   I don't know if there is a film out there that depicts the game in its glorious and gritty reality to match this.   English football in the later part of the Twentieth Century was played by hard men and that shows in the period footage interspliced with the movie's narrative. And as historic footnotes, people like Alan Hinton played for Clough at Derby County. Clough's career spans the origins of the NASL.   I know this blog isn't your Shawn Levy movie review column!  But if you haven't seen the movie and you lived through those years,  rent it.   Or whatever it is you do to watch movies these days.   The stream at Netflix worked pretty darn well for this one.   

Oh...and that quote?  I just like it 'cause I'm an Old Nick and it fits.   Clough had a way with words. That was part of what made him memorable.   

One last thing.  I said I wasn't going to be covering the Timbers game by game.   But they knocked off Baltimore Crystal Palace this afternoon over on the east side of the country, 3-1.   All that's left of the last USL season is to spank the 'Caps next weekend at Swangard and then win the championship.   Go get 'em, boys!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Who's goin' to the Show? Poll on which Timbers will go to MLS

So my poll results are in, and there's some clarity in the trends.   Without any question the brightest star in the polling was Bright Dike, who earned top points to play MLS ball for the green team next year.   My take?  Dike is strong and smart but his vulnerability is being muscled by highly physical defenses.   The MLS thrives on highly physical defenses.   I'd say Dike is a contender but not a given.   Next on the list were Ryan Pore and Steve Cronin.   I have to agree with Cronin as a choice.  He's shown smarts and cool under pressure.  And he's had a broad range of experience.  All of that militates to a shot next year.  Pore is an easy "of course".   He's a quality player: passionate,  intelligent,  and a natural shooter.   I'd say the risk next year is that opposing defenders will just physically chip away at him.   MLS is like a prison farm---a hard row to hoe.  As opposed to the beauty of the game.  Also ranking up there in voter estimation is Ian Joy,  a defender who's had increasing impact on the Timbers' play this year.  His experience in MLS and in the Bundesliga make him a likely yes.  Not doing so well in our voting were Taki, Nimo, Keel,  and Ross Smith.    I can hypothesize about what voters might have thought in terms of their qualities but it would only be speculation.   Truth be told the 2011 Portland Timbers will likely sport a very new and different look,  regardless of current player performance,  because John Spencer will have his own vision of how to craft a team.   I'm looking forward to seeing what happens.  Hey?  Is Sebastien LeToux available?  If he's on our team he can't score against us!

Portland Timbers notch one more

 I can't help myself.   The Timbers played on the road in Puerto Rico and slapped the Islanders with a single goal win.   The chip shot by Kalif Alhassan followed a tough ninety minutes of play,  including an Alhassan shot just an instant earlier. The nineteen year old showed some stuff as an attacking midfielder.   My take is that the the Timbers are hoping he'll blossom into a Fredy Montero,  an unheralded youngster with great potential and years ahead of him.   I hope they're right.