Six Degrees: Exactly What We Deserved

I’m getting so sick of this shit.

1) Columbus, away, March 25, Timbers score the first goal in the 4th minute, then give up two, then pull even in the 45th, then give up the winning goal in the 84th.

New England, home, April 2, Timbers score the first goal in the 12th minute, hold the lead all game, then give up the tying goal in the 84th.

Dallas, away, April 29, Timbers score the first goal in the 30th, then get tied in the 61st, regain the lead in the 71st, and give up the tying goal in the 80th.

Colorado, away, June 17, Timbers score the first goal in the 18th, get tied in the 51st, then give up the winning goal in the 89th.

Seattle, home, June 25, Timbers give up the first goal in the 27th, then pull even in the 45th, then go ahead in the 45th + 4, then play the entire second half with a man advantage, only to give up the tying goal in the 90th + 4.

And that’s just the list for this year. If I tried to list all the leads we’ve blown since Porter got here in 2015, it would take you all day to read. And make you an alcoholic.

2) The worst part of Sunday’s 2-2 draw-that-most-definitely-should-count-as-a-loss to the Sounders? It was completely deserved. Out of the roughly 100 minutes Sunday, the Sounders were the better team for about 95. They beat us on offense, the beat us on defense. They beat us in the air, the beat us on the ground. They beat us even strength, they beat us a man down. They beat us in a house, they beat us with a mouse. You get the idea.

Most importantly? They beat us in the battle between the ears. Psychologically, they destroyed us.

Remember that whole “Big Hearts and Brass Balls” thing from a few years ago? That’s long gone. The 2017 Portland Timbers have neither of those things. A few players here and there? Yes. But collectively? No.

Do I have an answer? Of course not. Soccer’s X’s and O’s are hard enough. Figuring out and fixing a team’s psyche? Dragons be there.

All I can really say is that we’re not imagining this. It’s real. This team has no idea how to put games away. And I’m friggin’ sick of it.

That’s pretty much all I’ve got.

3) But as long as we’re here, we might as well break a few things down.

Seattle dominated the entire first half. Pretty much the only bright spot was a really nice counter in the 11th minute that would have been a goal, if not for Seattle keeper Stefan Frei.

Diego Valeri to Dairon Asprilla to Diego Chara to Fanendo Adi. Boom, boom, boom, boom. The only think I don’t like about this is Frei’s save. Otherwise, it’s tremendous, start to finish.

Alas, that’s probably the best we looked the entire game.

Seattle immediately resumed kicking our ass, and, in the 27th, Joevin Jones opened the scoring.

The obvious scapegoat here is Jake Gleeson. Spilling the ball is never a good thing.

But if I had to pick a secondary scapegoat, it would be Alvas Powell, who didn’t pressure Jones enough on the initial shot, then was ball-watching while his man raced over to score on the rebound. Not Powell’s best moment, or, to be honest, his best day at the office. His performance Sunday makes me understand why Zarek Valentin‘s been starting lately.

4) Going up a goal didn’t change Seattle’s dominance. Apparently, it’s possible for teams to play well after getting a lead. Who’da thunk it?

But in the 43rd minute, the Timbers finally got a break.

I don’t have much good to say about Ricardo Salazar’s work Sunday, but at least he got this call right. And to Brad Evans’s credit, he didn’t argue much. He knew.

And with that, we entered the only five minute period in which the Timbers were the best team on the field. It was only five minutes, but oh what a five minutes it was.

First was Adi nailing the PK to tie the game up, then with the last play of first half stoppage time, Dairon “Skywalker” Asprilla giving us the lead.

Asprilla’s got some hops, doesn’t he? I think we should play him at center back. Could he be any worse than our 4th stringer Lawrence Olum and our 5th stringer Amobi Okugo? At least Asprilla would do better in the air that either of those guys.

By the way, our 6th string center back? Zarek Valentin. Our 7th stringer? Me.

5) So, it’s halftime, the Timbers are up 2-1, and we’re playing 11v10. The second half’s gonna be awesome, right? We’re gonna put Seattle to the sword and win 4-1, right? Right?

Wrong. Just like they always do, the Timbers took their collective foot off the gas.

I’m not sure about the rest of you, but I spent the entire second half absolutely certain that we’d give up a goal and finish with a draw. 100% certainty.

And, of course, in second half stoppage time, possibly on the last kick of the game, this happened.

Fuck my life. Fuck the Timbers. Fuck psychology. Fuck trying to figure out how to fix this. Fuck everything and everybody.

Normally, I love sticking around to watch the team circle the field, frolic with their children, and raise some log slices. Not this time. This time, as soon as Salazar blew his whistle, I was heading for the gates, a black cloud trailing behind me.

6) I was in a bad place after the loss to Sporting Kansas City in April, but at least on that occasion I could blame the other team. This game, though? There’s no one to blame but the Timbers. A 2-1 lead at halftime and you’re a man up? This is 100% on us.

How to fix it? I have no idea. Would I be okay if Porter benched everyone for next week’s game at SKC? Played an entirely new XI?

Yes, I would be totally okay with that. I mean, it’s not like we’ve got a great chance of winning. So why not make a statement? Start Vytas. Start Chara. Maybe start Darlington Nagbe, too. Those three all showed some fire Sunday night.

But everyone else? Fuck ’em. Put ’em on the bench. Maybe watching a game from there will spark some change. Maybe it will remind them how to play.

Is this a bit drastic? Yes. Do I care? Not really. The Timbers are a friggin’ mess right now. We’re probably going to lose to SKC anyway, so why not do something drastic? Drastic might be just what this team needs.