Six Degrees: Sting Like Adi

Fanendo Adi has ended his long, dysfunctional relationship with the woodwork, and has gotten back together with his old flame, the back of the net. We’re all thrilled. Those two are great together.

1) This was a fun game. For the second straight match, the Timbers came flying out of the gate, completely dominating the first half. Dallas got a little more of the ball in the second half, but on the whole, the Timbers killed the game off pretty well. It was our third shutout of the year, our second in a row, and our first this season against an 11-man team.

Individually, Dairon Asprilla‘s worth noting. He had his second straight excellent start on the right wing, logging an assist and at least one, maybe two nutmegs.

Also looking good, Zarek Valentin, who I think may be losing his “substitute” title. It certainly does appear that he’s our new starting right fullback. Plays like this one won’t hurt his cause.

Another guy who has probably nailed down a starting spot? Diego Valeri, who scored the MLS Goal of the Week. Until he didn’t.

For all you budding soccer referees out there, that’s what a handball looks like. This next play? From our game in Seattle two weeks ago? Not a handball. Repeat: not a handball at all.

2) Valeri may not have scored Saturday night, but you know who did? The big man, Fanendo Adi.

The unsung hero of this goal? Sebastian Blanco. Watch how he holds the ball, waiting for that big center back to leave Adi and come toward him. As soon as Blanco sees that, he slips the pass to Adi and sits back to watch the magic happen.

Although, it wasn’t really magic he got to see. More like a three-car pile-up at highway speeds. You guys think this was a penalty? I think it was.

Fortunately, that decision was rendered irrelevant, as Adi somehow managed to poke the ball into goal with the side of his foot while clattering to the ground. It’s both ugly and gorgeous at the same time. My favorite Timbers photographer captured the madness pretty well.

3) If Blanco was the unsung hero of Adi’s first goal, Diego Chara was the unsung hero of his second. Watch him dummy Asprilla’s cross. The Dallas center back is forced to follow him, leaving Adi all alone in front of goal.

Of course, Adi wasn’t satisfied with just the center back looking dumb, he wanted the goalkeeper to look dumb, too. Mission accomplished.

Poor guy.

4) If the top story Saturday was Adi’s two goals, the next biggest story was probably our center backs. All four of them.

Have you ever seen both center backs leave a game with injury? I haven’t. Caleb Porter says he hasn’t. And yet it happened Saturday night.

First Liam Ridgewell went down in the 26th minute, forcing Roy Miller to shift from right CB to left CB, forcing Lawrence Olum to shift from CDM to CB, and forcing Amobi Okugo to come into the game as our new CDM.

But Okugo didn’t get too comfortable there, because in the 61st minute, Miller had to leave the game, Okugo had to shift back to CB, and Ben Zemanski had to enter the game as our new CDM.

If I’m doing the math right, this means we had four different center backs and four different CDMs. I was almost hoping someone else could go down, just so Caleb Porter would have to play someone from the stands. I was totally ready, by the way. Totally. I wore cleats and everything.

I don’t know the current status of Ridgewell’s and Miller’s health – Jamie Goldberg might. She’s your best source for Timbers news – but if they’re both down for awhile, what will the team do? Start Okugo and Olum? Put young Rennico Clarke on the bench? Or, hell, why not start Clarke? He’s the future, right?

Speaking of the future, here are two things to think about. One, new signee Larrys Mabiala can’t play until July (I think), and two, what the hell are we gonna do about Liam Ridgewell? Can this team afford to have a highly-paid player who can’t stay healthy? Will this be Ridgy’s final injury-plagued season in the Rose City? Will next year’s CB depth chart be Mabiala, Clarke, and Gbenga Arokoyo?

I have no answers. Only questions.

5) As I understand it, when the league is setting up each year’s schedule, they ask teams if they want to play during international breaks. In the past, the Timbers have said no. This year, they said yes.

I, for one, am glad. I like having a week between games. Take a week or two off, and suddenly you’re getting three or four games over the course of a couple weeks. For the most part this season, the Timbers have avoided this.

But only for the most part. We’re getting ready to enter our busiest part of the year. Tuesday night we travel to Seattle for our opening round US Open Cup game. This will almost certainly be a second- or maybe even third-choice starting lineup. In other words, mark Victor Arboleda down for a hat trick.

Five days later, we play a Sunday game in Colorado. Three days after that, we play a Wednesday game in Minnesota. Then four days after that we return home to play Seattle.

We’ve got a couple Wednesday games in early-July, too, so all my happy game-a-week thoughts will have to be put on hold for awhile.

Fortunately, we’re super-healthy, right?

Ahem, no. Our injury list currently includes Miller, Ridgewell, Jack Barmby, Darren Mattocks, and Chance Myers. Am I forgetting anybody?

At least we’ll be getting Darlington Nagbe and David Guzman back from international duty. That’s good news.

6) Actually, there’s plenty of good news. After getting one point in the entire month of May, the Timbers now have six points in the first two weeks of June.

Yes, next weekend’s game is at elevation, but, fortunately, Colorado kinda sucks this year.

The Wednesday game in Minnesota? They kinda suck, too.

And then we get to play Seattle at home.

So, yes, there are injuries. And, yes, the games will be coming hot and heavy. But the team suddenly looks very, very good, the opponents aren’t exactly murderer’s row, and Adi’s found his scoring touch.

Am I saying we’ll go 5-0-0 in June? No.

Am I saying it’s do-able? Yes. Yes, I am.