Six Degrees: End Of A Rough Month

 

The Timbers went 0-3-1 in the month of May. Is that what we can look forward to the rest of the season? Or was it just a bad stretch, easily left behind?

1) This was a strange loss for me, because when the final whistle blew, I wasn’t all that angry or sad or depressed or frustrated. And I have no idea why.

Does my lack of emotion mean I’ve gotten used to losing? This has been a very depressing month for the team, after all. 0-3-1 will knock the wind out of anyone.

Or maybe it’s because the lone goal came super-super-early? I had 86+ minutes to get used to the idea of a loss, to resign myself to our fate.

Or is it because, despite the loss, we didn’t play all that badly? In fact, for large portions of the game, we felt like the better team. We had a ton of shots, our possession was good, our passing was good. I didn’t feel like I was rooting for a miserably awful team.

And yet, a loss is a loss is a loss, and they’ve been coming hot and heavy these days. Still, for some strange reason I can’t quite put my finger on, this loss didn’t feel as bad as some of the others. We seemed like a decent team.

Or maybe not. I have no idea anymore.

2) The Timbers didn’t wait long to pop our balloon Saturday. And yes, I’ll give the Timbers more credit for this 4th minute goal than I will the Sounders. We did most of the damage ourselves.

If you have children, you might want them to leave the room before you watch this.

Roy Miller deserves most of the blame here. He got absolutely smoked by Chad Marshall. Honestly, I think even my dumb ass could have scored given that much space.

But the rest of the team isn’t much better. I’m not sure who Fanendo Adi, David Guzman, or Vytautas Andriuskevicius are covering. Possibly no one. Possibly everyone.

How much blame should we give Zarek Valentin? Yes, he was clearly using the always-questionable Bear Hug Defense, but to be honest, Christian Roldan got a little lucky, in that the ball ricocheted right to his head. But even if it hadn’t, Valentin could’ve been called for a penalty, so maybe he deserves our ire. I’m not sure.

I really hope set piece fiascoes like this aren’t going to become a theme. Back in 2013 or 2014, I remember us being just awful defending set pieces. I fear those days have returned. Soccer’s a cruel sport and one dumb mistake is enough to lose you a game. Lately, it seems our defense is good for at least one dumb mistake per game.

3) According to the expected goals matrix, the Timbers had the better chances Saturday.

Of course, much of that was from one play, Liam Ridgewell‘s missed header in front of goal.

I’m very torn about this whole play. The xG people are calling it a sure thing, but the way that ball snuck up on Ridgy, it barely felt like a chance to me. I mean, look at it.

Honestly, it looks less like a shot and more like a guy getting hit in the head with a soccer ball. Did Ridgy have even a split second to see it coming? I can’t tell if he’s even trying to put that on goal. Should I be angry about this “miss?” Should I be blaming Ridgy for not reacting quicker? I’m having a hard time getting mad about this.

On the other hand, Christian Roldan had only a split second of warning and he managed to put his header on frame. So there you are.

4) Speaking of “on the other hand,” check out this handball from last week’s Orlando City game.

Now look at what Chad Marshall did on Saturday.

Eerily similar, aren’t they? You know who was referee for both those plays? Mark Geiger. But apparently, over the course of a week, he decided that, no, on second thought, a player putting his arm straight out from his side and getting hit by the ball is not a penalty.

Who do you think is angrier? Timbers fans wanting a PK or Orlando fans wondering why Geiger couldn’t have gone blind a week earlier?

I’m gonna say Timbers fans are angrier, since we didn’t have just one blown penalty call, but two.

I hope Karma is paying attention. She owes us big time.

5) Some random fun facts.

  • The Timbers are 2-3-2 when Ridgewell is captain, and 3-2-1 when Diego Valeri is captain. I’m pretty sure this mean nothing at all.
  • Around the 15th minute or so, someone in the Seattle stadium was singing “Portland Boys.” Were the traveling Portland fans striking a blow for freedom of speech and misogyny? Or was it actually Sounder fans singing “Seattle Boys,” because, you know, Seattle fans suck?
  • From halftime to the 83rd minute Sunday, 5 of the 11 guys on the field had, at one time or another, played center back for the Timbers. Ridgy, Miller, Valentin, Lawrence Olum, and Amobi Okugo.
  • Speaking of center backs, we’ve finally made our big signing!  While his name isn’t quite as cool as Yaya Banana, it’s close. Larrys Mabiala is a 29-year old Congolese international and the grammar nerd in me is really looking forward to seeing his name used as a possessive. “Who’s locker is this?” “It’s Larrys’s.” The only thing better would be if we signed another guy named Larrys. They would, of course, be known as the Larryses, and if they roomed together on the road, people would ask, “Who’s room is this?” “It’s the Larryses’s.” Yes, I’m a gigantic nerd.

6) As we say goodbye to the 0-3-1 month of May, there are some positives we can latch on to. For example, unlike Orlando, Houston, Chicago, NYRB, and the 2016 Timbers, we are not an only-wins-at-home kind of team.  We have a healthy balance of 3 wins at home and 2 on the road. We also have a +1 goal differential, and our 1.38 PPG average would’ve gotten us into the playoffs last year.

The offense, while mystifyingly silent of late, has a bunch of guys who are undeniably dangerous. The defense, while occasionally incompetent, has… erm… held Seattle and Atlanta to one goal each? That’s a positive spin, right?

Most importantly, despite all our recent troubles, the Timbers are still firmly above the red line. In fact, we’ve been above the red line the entire season. If we right this ship now, we could go from start to finish, never dropping below it, which is something no Timbers squad has ever accomplished.

Our next two are at home. Next weekend, we can get some revenge on San Jose for the 3-0 beating they recently gave us. The weekend after that, we can earn the full three points against a Dallas team that we drew on the road and who are looking strangely mortal these days.

In other words, maybe the worst is over.