Thursday, October 31, 2013

Now this is a sodden pitch...

Fratton Park in Portsmouth England was drenched recently during a match between Pompey and Wycombe Wanderers.  My wife's cousin is a Pompey fan and sent the link to this match.   Recalls for me the Timbers match some years back when PGE Park was the locus of a violent weather cell.   Thunder and lightning and torrential rain, though not enough to stop the match.

This phenomenon may seem like an adventure to some, but in the realm of football management,  it's a terrible problem. Grass pitches can't be maintained adequately during a fall-winter season with torrential rains. For our club, FC77 this became clear about three years ago when we had negotiated the use of a wonderful grass pitch in outer Southeast Portland.  The problem was that we had a very high (for a small non-profit) obligation to pay cash for use of the field.  Our calculation had been that the use by league teams would generate the revenue for the bulk of the field cost.   However torrential rains caused cancellation of many games and the equation no longer worked.   Extreme weather events such as the downpour in Portsmouth will kill the traditional field use in the fall and winter.

Futbol,  like everything else in the world,  is being affected dramatically by real life weather conditions.
As someone said in the comments from Fratton Park, "At least they kept the bar open".   Does this feel like the Titanic?   At least we can drink as the ship slips into the wash…..

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Portland Timbers- standing on solid ground

With last night's defeat of Chivas in LA,  the Portland Timbers are Western Division champions and the team which has ticked off many achievements as this season unfolded.  They have the fewest losses by a substantial margin at five.   They have the broadest crew of 'gunslingers'  as five players have seven or more goals. They have a goalkeeper in Mr. D Ricketts who has been like a shapeshifter ---regularly materializing in front of shots despite the laws of physics.    They have a defense which is centered in The Gambia but also has had heroic work early on from young players like Andrew Jean Baptiste and experienced players like Mikael Silvestre.  ("The Gambia" is so Oregon. Just like The Dalles).  Outside defense was a source of troubles a year ago.  This year Harrington and Jewsbury have given up very little and have created much.  They have a midfield which is intelligent,  skillful,  and unrelenting.    Will Johnson and Diego Chara are the Engines of Disruption and Cohesion both.   Like the two-faced gods in ancient cultural lore,  they both destroy opponents' attacks and seek the unfolding 'moment of joy' in which a pass arrives in the sweet spot of danger-to the opponent.    With the addition of Diego Valeri who epitomizes the ideal game,   the increasingly herculean contributions from Darlington Nagbe,  the physically hardened but joyful style of Kalif, and the insertions of Zizzo and Zemanski at the right moments,  the team has eaten up hours of time while plotting its next attack.   And there  is more praise to offer--Monsieur Fred,  Valencia, Kocic and the mercurial Urruti have all been contributors to a magic season earned with grit and hard work but also with a vision.  Porter's vision made real.   "We play as a team."  

The press coverage of the team has been massively improved since the early years when any mention of futbol was likely to be a truncated 4pt text addition to a page of 'really important sports'.  At the same time as this pic shows, the coverage has a long way to go.   Would a story on the Ducks football team misidentify a key player in a caption when the team was winning a Division Championship.   I think not.   And Diego deserves to be recognized--he works too hard not to be.