Portland Timbers

MLS Quick Links: Disparaging Managers

Your Seattle Sounders are enjoying their international break, as is your humble blogger. No worries, I haven’t wandered off into another month-long walkabout.

Some quick hits to tide you over:

Congrats to Bob Bradley on earning the nod from Swansea. I’m proud to see Bradley as the first American manager to rep the Red, White and Blue across the pond (oh wait, their flag is the same colors…) rep the Stars and Stripes, that is.

The Guardian has a tidy write-up. I believe that Bradley is absolutely the right man for the job. He’s used to hardship, financial constraint, and rebuilding. Give ‘em hell Bob.

In other managerial news, Bruce Arena thinks flying commercial is a joke. He tells his players to not rock their logos when they fly Southwest to not damage the image of the league. C’mon again? Sure I get optics and branding, yadda yadda, but seriously? This is what Bruce Arena is worried about? I guess when you repeatedly rely on the scraps of descending international stars (Keane, Gerrard, Dos Santos, et al) to build your roster, it’s tough to sell coach.

Too bad Klinsmann or Caleb Porter didn’t say or do anything really asinine recently. About the worst I got was Porter claiming that Colorado’s “belief” won them the game last weekend. Normally that’s Klinsmann’s bailiwick, chalking up losses to New Age-y Neoplatonic bullshit like “heart.” I am heartened to think that Porter is regressing into a Klinsmann.

Portland is having their worst season under Porter. Even if they win out they’ll finish with only 47 points, just under 2014’s playoffless 49. Portland’s not gonna win out. As much as Portland winning MLS Cup before Seattle chaffed my very soul, if Merritt Paulson keeps an underwhelming Porter in charge for 5 years too many, riding on the coattails of 2015 (much Like Klinsmann is still milking his run to 3rd with Die Mannschaft in 2006), and he runs the franchise into the dirt. Well then. Seeing Portland win the Cup last year just might be the best thing that ever happened to Seattle.

 

The Annotated Caleb Porter

One of the best parts of being a Seattle Sounders fan is hating the Portland Timbers. Portland coach Caleb Porter is whining again and I love it.

Porter is the cherry on top of the mountain high hate pie because his pettiness, delusions of grandeur and awkward cocksure bravado are simply delicious. He sure had a lot to say following Sunday’s pivotal Cascadia matchup, here are some of the tastiest morsels:

They [Seattle] had nothing. I think back on the game and I can’t even remember not one time where they broke us down.

Huh? We “had nothing” even though Obafemi Martins was dancing around in the box unmolested and slammed home a cheeky goal? We “had nothing” but Mears put a beautiful ball over the top to Oba forcing Kwarasey into a to-foul-or-not-to-foul decision? Portland had more chances. Portland had better chances, but Seattle most definitely did not “have nothing.”

Their high-powered, big-budget team had trouble.

Don’t pat yourselves on the back too hard Portland. We’ve been having trouble for over two months. Hell, we had more trouble against cellar-dweller RSL last week. And sure, we have a big-budget team, but we only had 2 DPs start while you had all 3. What’s your excuse for that?

They couldn’t create much on us, and they get out of this game with three points off of a poor first goal, I think with a couple fouls, and a PK.

Okay, I know you fancy yourself the arbiter of “good soccer” and that you hate long throw-ins, yadda yadda. Maybe I can kinda see your point there, but what of Oba’s first goal was “poor”? And what are you referring to with “a couple fouls”? The most egregious non-called fouls I saw were Adi’s patented back-to-goal flops. The most obvious earned Portland the freekick to end the game, but Adi repeatedly flopped throughout the match. He’d face away from goal, back into Chad Marshall and then right as the ball arrived slip down to his butt. More often than not, his fishing found a whistle

Due to the subjectivity of the officiating in soccer in general, and MLS particularly, penalties are usually controversial. But they do happen. They count as goals and can win you games. Get over it, Caleb.

I thought the official was very poor. I’ll stick with the theme of coaches complaining this week, but the reality is I call a spade a spade, and the official was very poor today.

Let’s be real, the officiating was far worse in our US Open Cup match. In that game, the ref was an overmatched newb with authority issues but his erratic and inconsistent calls benefitted you. So let’s call a spade a spade: you are a biased, sanctimonious, delusional prick, not some paragon of straight shooting objectivity.

I thought the game was very poorly managed by the official…Just like coaches have poor games and players have poor games, I thought he had a poor game.

Coaches have bad games, huh Caleb?

 

All is Right in the World: Seattle Sounders Beat Portland Timbers!

The Seattle Sounders won BIG against their blood rivals, the Portland Timbers, Sunday night in Sodo.

The hugeness of the victory cannot be understated: 6 points in the Western Conference, 3 points towards the Cascadia Cup, climbing back above the thin red line, Ozzie’s return and, maybe most important of all, we beat Portland. That’s what we do. It’s nice to be reminded what reality you live in. We most definitely live in the Seattle > Portland reality.

The win was big but the game wasn’t exactly pretty. The Timbers were the “better” team on the balance of the night, especially in the first half. The Timbers, passing crisply, dominated possession in the midfield and sparked surge after surge of attacks. Portland vastly outplayed us, putting 13 shots on goal before intermission to our 3. But. Goals change games and Obafemi Martins is a game changer.

Portland can point to their first half stats all they want, but Seattle got the numbers that matter. Oba and Valdez were trying to start a little linkup early in the match, the ball was pinballing possession between the two teams, but Oba persisted in a scrum of Timbers ‘til he found himself with a sitter on Kwarasey’s doorstep. 1-0 Seattle.

Seattle’s second goal, also created by Oba, was a tad more complicated. Mears found Oba alone and boomed one over the top. Oba gave chase until Kwarasey stonewalled him in the box. Sure, the call was controversial, as Taylor Twellman and Ian Darke constantly reminded us, but soccer is a subjective game.

If Oba’s first touch was a “shot on goal” then Kwarasey had every right to stand his ground, but if Oba’s touch was just to control the ball and set up his goal scoring opportunity, then Kwarasey fouled Oba by denying him that chance. Despite the whining you hear emanating north from Pee-Town, the call was solid. Clearly the ref saw the latter reality and his perception is the only one that matters. And honestly Timbers fans, do you really think that first touch was Oba’s attempt on goal? Oba don’t have bad touches in the goalmouth, unlike some Argentinians I can name (*cough* Melano *cough* Urruti).

Sure the second half saw Jewsbury get one back, but the game was pretty well in hand. Portland managed 7 more shots to our 3 in the final 45, and that makes sense. They were chasing the game. So Timbers fans can take their bawling about refs, and stats and shove it. We got the W, all three points when it mattered. Did we get lucky? Sure. But you make your own luck and Seattle is just warming up.

 

Travels In Cascadia: Rave Green Portland Jersey Test

Sorry for the irregular posting schedule Seattle Sounders fans. I’m across enemy lines in PeeTown for a friend’s wedding.

Portland is a great city, if you don’t have to live there. Just roll in,  find trouble, and roll out. Southeast especially is good for getting in trouble: sour beers at Cascade, hot dogs at Zach’s Shack, black lights in the Space Room and tax-free Magic cards at Guardian Games. Oh my!

But the real trouble I’m looking for is sartorial. I’m rocking my Pitch Black Sounders kit around town. All day. This isn’t needless provocation, it’s a social experiment. I’ll post updates throughout the day.

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UPDATE: Walking around Portland rocking my Rave Green and not a single denizen of the Rose City has commented on my Sounders gear. I haven’t even gotten a dirty glance. Where’s your pride Portland?

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Buying poetry at the second-best bookstore in Cascadia (love my Elliott Bay).

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About to get a kooky and overrated donut (it’s no Top Pot).

Catching up in Cascadia: The Wrong Color Green #3

Your favorite Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers podcast is back!

In today’s episode, Bob and I chat about new signings, both teams’ recent runs of form, and look forward to the culmination of both the Cascadia Cup and MLS seasons. And yes, we take various potshots at each other.

This episode was especially fun becasue I flew to the northern border of Cascadia, Anchorage, Alaska, to record live with Bob. Enjoy!

Wrong Color Green: Episode #3.

 

Seattle Sounders v Portland Timbers: A History By Numbers

It’s not easy being Rave Green, as the Seattle Sounders have suffered some historic lows lately.

In the last 21 days: We have lost to Portland twice. We lost 4 league matches, dropping 12 of 15 MLS points. We suffered our worst defeat, ever, to Portland 4-1. Ozzie re-injured himself and hasn’t played a minute. Portland knocked us out of OUR tournament, the USOC. Obafemi Martins broke his face and then his groin, and won’t be back for a long while yet. Darlington Nagbe actually looked talented for once. Clint Dempsey went all Rambo on an overmatched ref’s notebook, losing him money, MLS games, USOC games and his USMNT captaincy. And the Timbers beat us, twice.

Rest easy gentle reader: this too shall pass. But in case you needed some perspective, I compiled some cheery factoids for you.

The major benchmarks for judging an American club team’s success are: League play, the USOC and CONCACAF Champions league. Let’s see how the Sounders and Timbers compare in these major categories.

Open Cup:

  • Open Cup Finals Appearances: Seattle has appeared in the USOC Final 6 times (tied with Bethlehem Steel for the record). Portland? Zilch.
    Open Cup Championships: Seattle has won the tournament 4 times (tied for 2nd behind only Maccabi LA and Bethlehem Steel). Portland? Nada.

League Play:

  • Portland and Seattle’s overall head-to-head record (since 1975 when Portland joined the NASL): 47–32–10, Seattle.
    Portland and Seattle’s head-to-head record in MLS: 6-3-4, Seattle.
  • Average points-per-season (since 2011 when both franchises were in MLS): Seattle’s averaged 58.75 points per season. Portland’s only got 45.5.
  • Seattle is the current Supporters’ Shield champion. Portland has never sniffed that bit of silverware.

 Postseason:

  • The NASL Sounders reached the playoffs 8 times and the championship (aka Soccer Bowl) twice. The NASL Timbers made the playoffs only four times, and Soccer Bowl just once.
  • What MLS team has made the playoffs every year of their existence? Seattle, 6 straight years. Portland’s made the playoffs exactly once.
  • Seattle has advanced to the Western Conference Finals twice. Portland has advanced to the Finals once (and got whupped by RSL to an aggregate of 5-2).

CCL:

  • Seattle has played in 3 CCLs and last season’s success punched their ticket to their fourth.
  • Portland has played in 1 CCL.
  • Seattle didn’t advance from their group in 2010. They advanced to the knockouts in 2011 and the semifinals in 2012, becoming the first MLS team to beat a Liga MX team in a knockout game.
  • Portland didn’t advance from their group in 2014.

 

Sounders ‘til I die.

 

Seattle Sounders at Portland Timbers: Round 3

The Seattle Sounders play their archrival the Portland Timbers today down in that stinky little river city. This game always has gravity, but as Portland has been climbing and Seattle falling in the MLS rankings lately, this one will be especially heated.

Portland had a stellar run of form going before LA buzz-sawed, 5-0, them for the worst result in the Porter era. DP CB Liam Ridgewell got chippy at the end of a sloppy game and saw red, meaning he’ll be out for this Cascadian Clash. Ridgewell and LA’s Alan Gordon went up for a ball. Ridgewell had no chance of winning it as Gordon had position, but scraped a high boot, cleats out, on Gordon’s back and thigh. Straight red. Wait. A DP got testy in an out-of-control match and saw red? Think of the children. At least Dempsey only assaulted paper.

Ridgewell’s absence should soften the Timber’s defense, he’s been stellar lately. But we can’t score goals with our current lineup. The sounders are scoreless in our three understaffed games: 0-1 SKC, 0-2 SJC, 0-1 Philly. Luckily we haven’t hemorrhaged goals like PDX. After resting players against Philly, we should have a better crack at Portland.

We should have a first choice backline as Marshall only had fifteen minutes as the world’s biggest striker and Mears benefitted from the rest. Though the availability of Ozzie is still uncertain, the midfield should be fine. Pappa will be making his last start before the Gold Cup and Pineda should have shaken off the rust from his time away (lordy was he a problem on Wednesday). Forward is still a glaring hole. Barrett would make a big difference if he can go.

It’s funny how we lamented the depth at midfield earlier while saying we had too much talent at forward. We all have to admit that Neagle up top just isn’t working.

Bold Prediction: I’m starting with a modest proposal to Sigi: start Darwin Jones as the lone striker. He was one of the very few goal-dangerous Sounders in Philly. Yes he’s raw and made the horrible decision to shoot into the side-netting instead of feeding Marshall for an easy goal. That said: he is fast. And stout. He has good body control and mass, and could be a pesky lone striker. I can see Jones harrying a depleted Timbers backline, allowing Rose, Pappa and Roldan to fill-in and clean up. I doubt Sigi makes this call in this game however.

My confidence is shaken in the JV getting results, but rivalry games are chaos. We are in Portland’s heads: 1:1 draw.

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Sorry we haven’t recorded a Wrong Color Green podcast in a while. My partner-in-crime, Bob, recently became a father. Unfortunately he’s raising a little Timbers fan, but we’ll love him anyway.

 

Seattle Sounders vs. Portland Timbers: Detox

Another pivotal chapter was written in the Cascadian Book of Hate after a 3-1 extra time victory by the Portland Timbers over your Seattle Sounders. I decided to hold off on my live USWNT recap due to the wild crazy events that took place Tuesday night at Starfire.

Every Sounders-Timbers match is potentially the stuff of legend. This last one sure didn’t disappoint. That is unless, you are a Sounders fan. Losing to the Timbers sucks. Hard. I hate them, and we sure didn’t need another reason to pile on the hate. However.

It was only the Open Cup. Being knocked out early sinks, but it could be a blessing. The Sounders are no longer dependent on the Open Cup as the opportunity to find quality minutes for the young guns. Not with S2 fully operational. So losing only really keeps us from… winning another Open Cup?

I don’t want to treat “our” trophy lightly, but we’ve won that silverware so many times. I’m still #hellagreedy, it’s just the Sounders have other goals this season. With CCL and the dog days of the MLS season approaching, missing the USOC eases fixture congestion. If losing to the Timbers helps us stay sharp and keep our focus on winning two previously unsummited tournaments, the MLS Cup Playoffs and CCL, then I’ll gladly suffer the loss. But then again we said something similar to this back in 2013 after the Tampa Bar Rowdies roughed us up, and that season fell apart. At least we can point to the boondoggle that was two MLS clubs facing off so early and take solace in not getting shellacked by a JV team.

Speaking of the JV, Sigi started quite the mixed lineup on Tuesday. Perkins, Kovar and Fisher in the back five; Azira, Rose, Roldan AND Leo in the midfield? It doesn’t hurt too bad to lose when you know started a B- lineup. Especially because Seattle’s motley crew lost to a full strength Timbers squad. And Portland needed a 4-man advantage to ice it. C’est la vie. Clearly Sigi wasn’t all out like Caleb Porter. I’m sure those in Stumptown are feeling warm and fuzzy inside but, c’mon guys, you barely beat S1.5. As Sigi said, our boys “fought like lions.”

The only downside to their grit was the amount of minutes logged. Sigi was clearly looking at rationing minutes and keeping guys fresh for the upcoming stretch of key league games. But with the madness of the game, key players like Dempsey, Marshall, and Neagle all clocked serious minutes. And then Oba. Oh lord, Oba. Martins was stretchered off the field after untimely collision with the overrated Darlington Nagbe. Oba underwent an MRI yesterday and the results should be revealed sometime today. Prognosticators predict a bad result (sports hernia, broken rib?). Starting a weak team to save the big boys only works if you don’t end up throwing said big boys into a meat grinder.

And then there is the curious case of Clint Dempsey. Dempsey gets heated. In a game like Tuesday’s, Dempsey got heated. Then he… ripped the logbook from the ref’s pocket and proceeded to shred it. That got him a straight red and possibly a huge suspension. MLS and USSF will need to decide how to discipline his actions, but it could be pretty darn serious.

That said, I’m glad Deuce stood up for Azira. These two Sounders come from a very different pedigree. Azira has played in the USL and Deuce the World Cup. The Sounders all share a tight bond. Upon Azira’s bogus red card, Deuce got heated. He got mad for Azira, mad for Seattle. Dempsey was standing up for Seattle. That was great to see. Not only does it highlight a real esprit de corps within the Rave Green, but also that Dempsey takes being a Sounder very, very seriously. Sure, some people will write it off as Deuce being a punk, but I loved it.

 

The Madness of King Caleb

So much a part of being a Seattle Sounders fan is being a Portland Timbers hater. Today I have a hankering to clown on Caleb Porter.

One of my favorite games to play with Porter is the weekly “Wheel of Delusion.” After every Timbers game, usually a draw, sometimes a loss, Porter says something along the lines of, we played well enough to win or we deserved to win. Maybe Porter is fibbing to protect his job, or hoodwink the casual (i.e. ignorant) Portland fan, but I think he actually believes it. I am mesmerized, like a moth to flame, to see how piss poor Portland has to perform before Porter says, You know what? We played like crap and didn’t deserve a result. Frankly I think the man is incapable of anything resembling such a grip on reality.

You’d think this weekly parade of could’ve, should’ve, would’ve would be getting old for Timbers fans. But this is some of the tamest crap he babbles. I started to dig into more of Porter’s press conferences and interviews, and that man says the darndest things.

In his postgame interview following the Vancouver draw, at around the 3:20 mark, Porter talks about how his team could possibly score and says, “You’re only gonna score a goal 1 of 4 ways… You’re gonna score on a long build up, which rarely happens…”

Maybe it rarely happens if you’re Portland. Didn’t Seattle just string 18 passes together before putting one in the back of the net? Justsaying.

Then Porter, apropos of nothing, compared his woebegone Timbers to the surging Sounders. Porter responded to a reporter regarding the return of DP midfielder Diego Valeri with the odd, “How would Seattle do without Clint Dempsey?” Actually Porter, we’d do really well without Dempsey (more on that below).

Porter was interviewed by the Oregonian’s Jamie Goldberg following Monday’s practice. Around the 2:10 mark he obliquely goes back to the Seattle-without-Dempsey narrative, saying, “There’s no team in the league that would play as well without a DP.”

I think that’s a 10/10 on the Wheel of Delusion! Portland was 2-3-3, earning 9 points in 8 games, without Valeri. That’s playing well?! Seattle missed Dempsey (and DeAndre Yedlin) for 6 games during the World Cup last year. We went 4-0-1, 13 points in 6 games, during that run. At least do some homework before trying to weave a narrative. And keep Seattle references out of your mouth man, you just don’t compare.

If you dig further into the video (though do watch the very beginning when he doesn’t seem to actually believe his team is improving. He has to think to answering that softball question), Porter deftly cooks the books to better represent his team’s performance so far. At around the 9:05 mark Porter says, “11 out of 20 teams in the league have 10 points or less…4 teams in the West are on 10 points or less… We’re right where everyone else is.”

Porter has the numbers dead on, 11 teams are on ten points or less. However 6 of those teams have games in hand on Portland, tricky Porter. According to points-per-game, Portland sits in 15th place on the entire table. You are not “right there.” Also Portland plays in the Western Conference, the honor division of MLS, and is currently in 8th place out 10 teams. Furthermore, 6 of those 11 teams on 10 points or less are in the abysmal Eastern Conference. Portland is essential lumping itself in with also-rans like Philly, Chicago, the expansion clubs and Montreal. Really Porter, you make this too easy.

Last one, I promise (but jeez it’s like shooting fish in a barrel). At around the 9:47 mark, Porter says, when discussing the number of points the Timbers earned last year, “49 [points] is usually good enough to get you in [the playoffs].”

Porter is kinda right here. SKC (2014) and Montreal (2013) made the playoffs on exactly 49 points. And they both immediately got whupped in the play-in game. The last time 49 points punched your ticket in the West was 2012 when Vancouver made the dance with only 43 points (before being whupped in the play-in game). Maybe Portland secretly wants to rebrand his team the Portland (Maine) Timbers because that’s the only way he’ll have a shot at saving his job.

 

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