One of my favorite whipping boys, Portland Timbers coach Caleb Porter, may not be as dumb as he looks (though I find that hard to believe).
The MLS All-Stars will play a half-stocked Bayern Munich side on August 6th as the crown jewel of MLS’s midseason festivities. The All-Star game will be held in Seattle’s armpit, aka Portland, and thus the feisty little Timbers and their plucky gutter-punky Army will be heavily featured (MLS’s marketing of green smoke and waving flags from Hospitals-Not-Windows-Anymore Park is getting really old). Portland’s beleaguered coach Porter got the privilege, as coach of the host city’s team, to round out the All-Star roster after the fans’ and MLS Commissioner Don Garber’s selections.
MLS’s All-Star roster is frankenstitched together. A fan vote determines the starting 11, then the All-Star coach choses 10 reserve players while the commish rounds out the 23-man roster with two picks of his own. These two picks are often political or business-related. Last season, Garber knew the league had a hot commodity in DeAndre Yedlin and sent him to the All-Star game as a deserving acknowledgement of the rookie’s fine season, but also to further groom a budding superstar.
The Sounders’ roster is stacked with stars. Seattle is dominant this season and, across all sports, better teams always send more players to all-star games. So it is no surprise that three Sounders, Clint Dempsey, DeAndre Yedlin and Obafemi Martins, were selected by the fans to be in the starting eleven while no Timbers were. The real humor of the roster is that Porter then chose two more Sounders, Chad Marshall and Ozzie Alonso, as All-Stars and only one of his players, Will Johnson. Porter could have chosen as many of his players as he liked. He clearly doesn’t like his team very much. Other than his spirit animal, Johnson, Porter avoided men wearing the wrong color green.
As a Sounders fan this is simply delicious. It’s pretty damn telling that Porter chose Ozzie Alonso over Diego Chara. Clearly Porter has a soft spot in his heart for ball hawking defensive midfielders. He clearly wanted a pitbull in the midfield and acknowledged, through his selection, that Ozzie is better than his own Chara. To me Alonso’s superiority is obvious, but I hear many Portland fans dispute this fact. Clearly their coach agrees with me.
Porter picking Marshall is no real surprise. Of course Porter would salivate at the chance to coach an elite center back. The position is Porter’s kryptonite. Last year Porter soldiered through with the makeshift Great Wall of the Gambia, but he has never had a solid center back that could stay healthy on his squad since he was named head coach. Porter has gone through so many CBs: Horst, Futty, Kah, Silvestre, Jean-Baptiste, Papparato, O’Rourke, McKenzie that he’s starting to look desperate. Portland just used a DP slot on the EPL’s Liam Ridgewell hoping to turn his luck. Porter may want a player of Marshall’s quality on his squad, but how many Sounders will a Portland crowd root for?
The game will be played in Portland in front of mostly Timbers fans. Things would have gotten awkward for the RCTID crowd if Will Johnson, who some are fastly falling out of love with, was the only All-Star representing the home team. Thus Commissioner Garber came to the rescue and named Diego Valieri, who of all Timbers is most deserving, with one of his political picks. Pretty embarrassing that the commish needed to name another Timber to Porter’s roster.
With his selections Porter has clearly acknowledged his team isn’t very good and the Sounders are better. What ever happened to brass balls, huh?
2014 MLS All-Star Roster:
Goalkeepers (2): Nick Rimando* (Real Salt Lake), Bill Hamid (D.C. United)
Defenders (6): Matt Besler* (Sporting Kansas City), Aurélien Collin (Sporting Kansas City), Omar Gonzalez* (Galaxy), Chad Marshall (Seattle Sounders FC), Michael Parkhurst (Columbus Crew), DeAndre Yedlin* (Seattle Sounders FC)
Midfielders (8): Osvaldo Alonso (Seattle Sounders FC), Kyle Beckerman* (Real Salt Lake), Michael Bradley* (Toronto FC), Tim Cahill (New York Red Bulls), Clint Dempsey* (Seattle Sounders FC), Will Johnson (Portland Timbers), Diego Valeri (Portland Timbers), Graham Zusi* (Sporting Kansas City)
Forwards (7): Jermain Defoe (Toronto FC), Landon Donovan* (Galaxy), Thierry Henry* (New York Red Bulls), Robbie Keane (Galaxy), Obafemi Martins* (Seattle Sounders FC), Erick Torres (Chivas USA), Bradley Wright-Phillips (New York Red Bulls)
* = Fan XI
Thanks for following Raving Readers. I am taking the weekend off but will be back Monday with a Galaxy pregame post. Whatever makes you happy: the Capitol Hill Block Parties, Torchlight Parades, enjoy the weekend. Allegedly the sun is coming back!!