Six Degrees: Making The Beautiful Game Ugly

This is my shortest Six Degrees ever. No jokes, no gifs, and very few words. I hope you’ll forgive me. Saturday’s 1-0 loss to SKC is something I need to leave behind as quickly as possible.

1) I’m not exaggerating when I say that I wanted to punch something Saturday night at Providence Park. Ideally, I could have gone onto the field with my punching. Since that is not allowed, and since I’m good at holding in my violent urges, there was no punching at all. But trust me, the punching urge was strong. The anger and the frustration and the hate were all very, very strong.

SKC makes me hate soccer. In fact, I kind of think SKC hates soccer. If they loved soccer, why would they play it the way they do? Fouling, diving, bumping, complaining, taunting, aggravating, these are the tools in SKC’s toolbox. Yes, you can do that for 90 minutes and win the match. But at what cost? You have made the beautiful game ugly. You have made the world a worse place. You have made non-violent people dream of doing violence. If you loved soccer, would you do this? I can only conclude that SKC hates soccer.

2) Dom Diver is my least favorite MLS player. And possibly one of my least favorite human beings. When he is touched, he falls to the ground and cries to the ref. When he fouls someone, he immediately turns and walks away, chin high, chest out. I hate him with a hate so pure and strong it could power a rocket to Mars. If he were traded to the Timbers, I would boo him, even while wearing the Green and Gold.

During the game Saturday, I had the same thought many, many times: How can SKC fans root for this team? If the Timbers played the way SKC does, I couldn’t root for them. I mean this sincerely. I would stop being a Timbers fan. I want to watch soccer. Win, lose, or draw, what SKC does is barely soccer. I don’t want any part of it.

3) Despite my current mood, I don’t think this is the end of the world. The Timbers are still a good team. We’ll win more than we’ll lose. We’ll play pretty more than we’ll play ugly. I am not here to bury the Timbers, I’m here to bury SKC.

4) It must be said, though, that this wasn’t the best game the Timbers have played. They were off.

Is it SKC and their hatred of soccer that put the Timbers off? Possibly. Maybe even probably. But if that’s the case, the Timbers need to learn from this. They need to figure out how to succeed even when facing a team that fouls and dives and complains and aggravates. More teams will try this, especially when they see that SKC won. Destroying soccer will strike them as a theoretically bad thing, but those three points aren’t theoretical, they’re real and they will be awfully tempting.

5) Nagbe’s wonderstrike almost saved us. I had a perfect view of it from Section 205. Perched there, directly behind Nags, I saw the way that right-footed blast wasn’t a perfectly straight line, but followed a curving, dipping path, almost knuckling at times. If Melia hadn’t gotten a fingertip to it, would it have sneaked under the bar? I think so. I also think we’ll need more of those in future matches like this. Perhaps the way to vanquish the darkness of Ugly Soccer is to shine a light upon it so brilliant that it has no shadows in which to hide. Nagbe’s shot nearly did that.

6) Next weekend, we host Vancouver, another team that, at times, kind of hate soccer. They won’t ugly things up as much as SKC, but a little bit? Sure.

But maybe this is a good thing. Maybe it’s good to face another ugly team so quickly. Because, while I don’t want to think about the nightmare we just went through, Caleb Porter and the team are made of stronger stuff than me. They’ll spend this next week recovering, healing, thinking, and planning. They’ll analyze the tape, come up with some strategies on how to beat Ugly Soccer, and then, next Saturday afternoon, try them out against Vancouver.

Can Pretty Soccer defeat Ugly Soccer? I believe it can. But right now it’s 0-1-0. The next time we face a team that plays this way, the next time we face a team that hates soccer, we need to change that. We need to beat them the way they deserve, and prove that Pretty is stronger than Ugly.

4 Comments Six Degrees: Making The Beautiful Game Ugly

  1. John Lawes

    Thing is, as Chris Rifer points out in this week’s Timber Cruise, we ALWAYS have had trouble with that little bastard Vermes and his outfit. You’re right, they play ugly (and their insanely high workrate-and-fouling style always seems to come up short in the playoffs, or, at least, since 2013…) but their particular brand of ugly works on us like kryptonite.

    I think what might have made a difference was if Adi had converted his shot. Chasing the game makes a difference with those jokers. But…oh, well. Yeah, let’s turn and get stuck into those ‘Craps. Ugh. Another team I hate to see…

    Reply
  2. Roy Gathercoal

    Well said, gentlemen.

    Whatever it is that I saw Saturday, it was not the beautiful game.

    I don’t hate Dom Dwyer, I pity him. Poor boy, with such a pretty face and nothing behind it. Married to someone who is better at soccer than he is. Playing for a team in which garbage is for every meal. And he has to spend a lot of time in Kansas.

    I do believe the ugliness was at least as much the fault of the official as the opponent. Terribly inconsistent calls, and so many of them! I believe he also has it in for the beautiful game. And this is what, the third time he has called more than 20 fouls on us in a game? I can only hope there will be some simulation fines this week.

    What a mess. I don’t use the term loosely, but I believe this was what some call a clusterfuck.

    There are ways to beat this kind of soccer, and I wish Porter had prepared the team, realizing before the game that you have to find ways to win these games. Just think–otherwise it will reward their play and encourage this behavior. The team did seem to come onto the field flat, almost as if they knew what was coming and didn’t want to be there. I can’t hardly blame them, but this did not make the situation any better.

    For one brief shining moment, I thought Nags was angry enough to actually score. But he was fouled.

    one last thing–our defenders *have* to learn how to move the ball forward without delivering it to the feet of the other team’s attackers. Especially toward the end there were some real howlers of un-clearances. Uncharacteristic, I hope.

    I agree, CI, as usual, let’s just be done with this abomination. Providence Park will need to be sanitized thoroughly. Perhaps this would be a good time to tear out the visitor locker room and rebuild it with uncontaminated materials.

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  3. Larry Shaw

    Saturday night was beyond ugly. it was cynical, it was contemptuous…of the Timbers, referees, MLS and anyone who spent over $.01 to take it in.

    This wasn’t the first time nor will it be the last for this kind of shitshow posing as soccer. We all knew it was coming…even Porter said (as always) “the game played out exactly like we thought it would.” If that’s the case, Porter may have just coached the worst game of soccer ever. By anyone. How could you know this was coming and yet have the team’s collective head so in the sand it looked like it was trying to bury its way out the other side of the planet to get away. This game was over after the first bad tackle/dive and no-call. From there, we were eaten from within.

    Next time, no Nags, Valeri or Farfan – give them some of that old “youthful exhuberance” from Powell, a nasty cleats-up attitude from Z-Man the toughness of Vytas. That just might make the first 10 minutes of ugly soccer worth the remaining 80 minutes!

    Reply
  4. Lance Cummins

    It was interesting going to back to read this after the Vancouver match. You were right. Vancouver just plain made it ugly. It seems like that is what they do now. But not as ugly as KC that is for sure.

    Reply

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