Six Degrees: Peak Timbers?

 Seattle Photo - Craig Mitchelldyer, Portland Timbers 28 aug 16

Ah, yes. I remember now. This is why I love soccer.

1) We’ve seen Fanendo Adi play his best before. We’ve had many games seeing Diego Valeri and Diego Chara play their best. Hell, it’s possible we’ve even seen Lucas Melano play his best. But have we ever seen all these guys, have we ever seen the entire Portland lineup play their best at exactly the same time? The answer: yes. We saw it from minute 10 to minute 45 on Sunday afternoon. For those 35 minutes, we may have seen Peak Timbers.

In fact, we were so dominant in that first half, I’m going to start by showing you two gifs where the Timbers didn’t score.

Look at how open Liam Ridgewell is on this free kick. What should we focus on here? Portland’s brilliance or Seattle’s incompetence? I say both.

And then, a bit later in the half, Diego Valeri joins the fun.

Very similar, right? Long cross to a Timber who’s got acres of space. A shooter who’s not just inside the 18-yard box, but is pretty much inside the 6-yard box.

Here’s the first half in a nutshell. Look at that penalty box. Just flooded with Portland Timbers.

2) Let’s get to the goals. The delicious, scrumptious, wonderful goals.

Vytas Andriuskevicius, welcome to Portland. Would you like to open an account?

Look at all the room! How is the box that empty? Well, Valeri’s got two guys following him out of the box. Taylor and Ridgy are hanging back, keeping their defenders out of the mix. The only Timber close to Vytas is Fanendo Adi, but they’re not really crowding each other.

How rare it is to see a corner kick that’s this wide open. I pray we see it more.

Next up, the big man!

I almost feel sorry for Stefan Frei. He makes a double save, but because his defense can’t shut down Adi, he needs to make a triple save and can’t. Again, Portland brilliance or Seattle incompetence? Why not both?

Tired of soccer? Let’s play tic-tac-toe!

Damn, that’s beautiful. Melano to Valeri to Chara to Melano to the back of the net. I love the ol’ give and go, and Melano adds a touch of spice to it, by giving, waiting a moment, and then going.

I’d talk about how brilliant Melano was Sunday, but as I pointed out earlier, pretty much everyone was brilliant.

Wait… are we opening two Timbers accounts today? Why, yes we are! Stephen Taylor, welcome to Portland!

Dear Lord, how open can one man be? I’d call Seattle incompetent here, but, to be fair, I think Jack Jewsbury may have had Taylor’s defender in a headlock. Oh, well. That’s soccer.  We’ve been picked plenty of times, too.

3) Funny story: I watched this game at home, and when we went up 1-0, I started cheering, so one of my roommates wandered by, saw the score, and said something along the lines of, “The Timbers are ahead? Awesome.” I replied, “Yeah, but if there’s anything the Timbers have proven this year, it’s that they can give up a one goal lead.”

When we went up 2-0 and he heard me cheering, he said, “2-0? Already? They’re on fire!” To which I replied, “Yeah, but the Timbers can give up a two goal lead. They’ve done it before, they can do it again. This isn’t safe.”

At 3-0, I said, “Jeez, I dunno man. Can we give up a three goal lead? I bet we can. This isn’t safe.”

At 4-0, I said, “Dude. We can’t give up a four goal lead, can we? Surely, we can hold this, right?”

And then the Sounders came out after halftime and scored two goals in five minutes.

Fuck my life.

4) I don’t know who to blame for their first goal. Stephen Taylor obviously deserves some, since, you know, he headed the ball into goal.

But how was Ivanschitz that open? Alvas Powell left him open, but only because he had to cover the wide open Nicolas Lodeira (nice side foot pass, BTW). Who was supposed to be on Lodeiro? Jack Jewsbury? Diego Chara? Just a mess of a goal.

And we ain’t done. Four minutes later, Seattle scored again.

Lodeiro’s the most dangerous man on the field! How can he have that much time and space? Chara and Jewsbury did a hell of a job on him for roughly 85 minutes Sunday, but damn did they drop the ball for those five.

Also worth nothing here, Steven Taylor’s marking in the box. Ridgy’s covering two guys. Taylor’s covering none. I love that Taylor scored a goal Sunday. I don’t love his performance on the two goals allowed. The DeMann jury is still fully out on this guy. What do you think? Is he a keeper?

5) Some player quick takes.

Darlington Nagbe. You’re not a winger, Nags. When you play centrally, we shine. I wish we could see this sort of map every week.

nagbe map sea 29 aug

Ben Zemanski and Darren Mattocks. Both of you were in the 18 on Sunday. Are we actually getting healthy? Is that a thing the Timbers are allowed to do?

Jack Jewsbury. Every year, people write you off. Every year, you contribute. Nice work Sunday. See you next year.

Alvas Powell. Just in case there was any question on whether Alvas Powell gives a fuck, I present this gif. Alvas Powell don’t give a fuck. Alvas Powell takes what Alvas Powell wants. Approach Alvas Powell with extreme caution.

6) Lately, it seems I spend at least one degree every week talking about our position in the standings and our path to the playoffs. Get used to it. We are in a playoff race, fully and completely.


I, for one, kind of love our yearly flirtations with the red line. And I also kind of hate it. Yeah, sure it would be nice to be safe and secure at the top of the table, but on the other hand, we get to look forward to seven games played on a razor’s edge. Life and death for seven straight weeks? There’s a side of me eager for it.

2016-08-29 (1)

Of our remaining seven games, four are on the road. Do I need to mention that we’re the only team in the league that has yet to win a road game?

Four of our games are against Dallas, RSL, and Colorado, also known as the top three teams in the conference. Another’s against Philly, who are near the top in the East.

That’s five of seven games against excellent teams. Which sucks.

The other two games are against Houston – who are bottom of the table, but have been looking a lot better lately – and Vancouver – who are still in the hunt, but winless in seven.

These seven games will either be wonderful fun or agonizing misery. That depends partially on your taste for drama and partially on which Timbers team shows up the rest of the season. For 35 minutes Sunday, we saw Peak Timbers. For another five minutes, we saw Utterly Incompetent Timbers. And for the remaining 50 minutes, we saw Solidly Professional Timbers.

How will this year finish? Depends on who shows up.