I thought it was brilliant commentary on the match that the halftime show at Jordan Field last Sunday was a martial arts exhibition.
Because the Breakers took the field having decided on doing a little kung-fu fighting. They pressed high and marked tight, chopping Thorns up and chopping them down, and between feinting, and a slip, and a-kickin’ Hayley Raso’s hip for over an hour Boston made the Thorns look slow and ugly and unlikely to lock down that home semifinal that night.
A lucky against-the-run-of-play goal meant that the visitors took all three points and secured the home semi.
But…damn. Thorns FC sure didn’t fight with expert timing, and it was lucky that they picked Boston to play a crap game against and not Chicago, Carolina, or Orlando.
Sure, it was tight until the final whistle, and sure, we’ve had other wins on the road. But a road shutout against the 2nd best team in the league? Without our top striker, our top keeper, and our top center back? I think this may be our most impressive three points of the season.
It now seems like ages ago, but it was only a little more than eleven months this past Saturday, that the Washington Spirit was within seconds of winning the NWSL championship.
When they came to Portland for their final meeting with Thorns FC, last season’s runners-up were a burnt-out shell of the glory of 2016; ravaged by injuries, bereaved by transfers, and gutted by losses.
And yet, for about a quarter of an hour of that sultry summer afternoon, the Spirit reminded us that once they were lovely and pleasant in their lives; swifter than eagles, and stronger than lions.
No Gooz, no Adi, no Ridgy, no Jake? No problem!
Aussies glow and Thorns plunder…
…and finally break the Curse of Memorial with a gritty 1-2 away win crafted from relentless pressure and some horrific Seattle defending.
They say there’s no such thing as an ugly win. For the 2017 Portland Timbers, I’m thinking there’s no such thing as an easy win, either. But even if we had to sweat it out until the very end, it’s still three points, and I’ll take ’em.
The military philosopher Sun Tzu (or perhaps it was von Clausewitz. Or Napoleon. One of those guys, anyway…) is supposed to have warned against engaging the same enemy too often because of the danger that repeated contact would allow that enemy to become familiar with and, eventually, master their opponent.
This past weekend I was worried that 1) the third encounter with Thorns FC meant that the Houston Dash might have learned dangerous lessons from the first two, and that 2) the midweek win over Boston meant that the Texans might have figured out how to use Beckie and Hagen to create an effective attack in the absence of Carli Lloyd.
Saturday’s 2-nil home win made it clear that 1) they hadn’t, and 2) they hadn’t.
The Timbers have spent most of the 2017 season convincing us they’re soft, but in Friday night’s win over New York, they proved that, yes, they are capable of closing out a game.