Wednesday, March 18, 2015

CONCACAEF Champions League

The marquee MLS teams may not be in the hunt for this trophy at the moment,  but there's no question that this bit o' bling is fiercely sought.   The matches this week were hard fought and attended by thousands of passionate fans.   America was upset by Herediano in a fierce contest.   And the Montreal Impact picked up a win in the first leg of their semi-final match.  I'd love to see the Timbers move up that chain.  To be tested in the broader world of futbol and to succeed is where a club's legacy begins to have true gold.   

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Alan Gordon? What?

Tonight's match between the Timbers and the Galaxy provided rich terrain for commentary and as many sparks of excitement as you'd get running a knife blade over steel in a bad thriller.  I have deeply mixed feelings about what I saw tonight. 

Perspective number one.  The Portland Timbers playing without their midfield magician, Diego Valeri, not to mention Will Johnson,  took their game to the MLS Champions and forced them to wring out a draw in the very last seconds of the match.  Robbie Keane, perhaps the most dangerous forward in MLS, did not have much impact on this match.   

Perspective number two.  We've played two matches into the new season and we've pulled out two ties.  A year ago, we were at the same place in the standings.  In the match tonight, the team played aggressively and were organized against the best in the League.  The first goal by Adi was a beauty coming off the brilliant set up---Nagbe's backheel and Wallace's great run and perfectly timed pass to the streaking #9.    On the other hand Gyasi Zardes' run to the near post to finish the Galaxy's first goal looked like a replay of some most dangerous moments last year.  Borchers was covering in front of Zardes' run and Ridgewell was two yards off the space Zardes ran into--neither picked him up as he came through.   And thus, a goal given. 

Perspective number three.  Darlington Nagbe's individual effort several times in the game but clearly when he fought his way into the goal box and fed Adi for the second goal demonstrate what great capacity this team has.  I think Nagbe is both hero and tragic figure.  He does all he can and his excellence is rewarded by being subjected to thuggery.  I think the game is demeaned because there is not a remedy to the repeated 'soft fouls' that just take the player down, no malice to speak of.   The game is demeaned as a result.  

Perspective number four.   Alan Gordon had a wonderful season with the Timbers about ten years back. Scored well and was an upbeat and effective  forward.  We liked him.   Coming on for LA late tonight, though,  Gordon has been producing about one goal every three matches on average.  Not bad but not stellar.   To have him enter the game late and pull out the tying header in the dying seconds of the game is painful.   I watched it happen live and have looked at the replays and am at a loss to give some explanation to giving up the tie.   Perhaps it was the Roman curse,  the "Ides of March",  for which there is no explanation, only fate.  Amended comment: Gordo Time is apparently a phenomenon that trumps the Ides of March. 

I don't like that answer.  I'm looking forward to seeing the team break out of last year's pattern with our next game.   We've faced down two very good opponents and now it's time to show where we're headed.