As everyone who visits this site knows, the Timbers have been streaking lately, and not in the right direction. Losses to Columbus, Seattle, and SKC, not to mention an abysmal tie to an abysmal Toronto side, have not exactly instilled the PDX fanbase with much confidence heading in to the MLS season's stretch run. With that in mind, I thought it might be nice to have a place to express happy thoughts. So I present to you all 10
irrefutable reasons we will crush LA on Wednesday night.
That's right, Defense. As crazy as it sounds, the Timber's defense has actually been borderline good these past few weeks, and is improving rapidly. At this point it might not even be the worst unit on the team, especially given our forward play. Whoever says they thought we'd be able to say that this season is either lying or hates Kenny Cooper (which isn't exactly a small group of people, but whatever). Chabala and Palmer have stepped in and shored up an incredibly leaky unit, providing it with depth and experience. If you haven't seen what Donovan did to Vancouver on Saturday, spare yourself the ulcer, but this defense is not Vancouver's. While a little lumbering in the middle, our wing players are fast and instinctive. They aren't as talented as Donovan, but they shouldn't be turnstiled like Vancouver's players. In other words, I think our defense has a legitimate shot at slowing down the Galaxy attack.
Follow the Jump for more twisted logic!9. KFC:
That's right, KFC. I'll admit, while his season to date has been eerily similar to the actual restaurant chain (looks like chicken, tastes like chicken, but in the end it's just another identified piece of "white meat,") I remain optimistic. Not necessarily that he can play anywhere near the level we were hoping for, but that Spencer is figuring out how to wring something out of him. Right now, he is being used sparingly, as befits his horrible level of play, but at least Spencer has finally recognized that he is better out on the wing. When/if he does come in, I think he may actually find some level of success out there. And if Spencer doesn't think he can cut it, well, that's not a big deal because of...
8. EJ! EJ! EJ!
Bandwagons are fun. And I'm about two goals away from demanding he be made a DP. Whether it is because the team is starved for goals, or that Eddie Johnson of all people has somehow reminded me how beautiful a simple backpass can be(to his own teammates, no less! Remarkable!), I believe he gives us our best chance to win. Watching a match in which your team's striker has not given up on ever being onside, and simply decided that disallowed goals are more exciting than receiving the pass and promptly falling down is quite a lot of fun. Beyond that, EJ opened up our midfield with his backpasses, allowing for much better ball movement than we have seen all year. While he will probably start on the bench, I am holding out hope that Spencer uses EJ as a starter and brings Perlaza in off the bench. And even if he doesn't, I don't think its a huge deal. Why?
Landon Donovan is fast. Really really fast. Juninho has some wheels too. But overall, speed is not the Galaxy's strong suit. They are a veteran and incredibly talented team, but they can be outrun. The phrase speed kills is a cliche, but its true. Why can't we harness that speed and use it to bludgeon LA to death? Or at least into a 1 goal win? At this point Beckham looks like he only has one (admittedly bionic) leg, and the Galaxy seem intent on starting JPA, apparently unconcerned that he has in fact turned into a remarkably lifelike stone statue of himself. If the Timbers push, they should be able to find openings in the LA midfield.
Can be very frustrating. His save rate is low a bit low, but his save of the week percentage is incredibly high. He makes impossible saves look easy, but has spent much of the year being constantly hammered by relentless shots. That said, this is the type of game we brought him in for. And I believe he can make a couple of impossible saves to blunt the LA attack. This one has an asterisk though. Perkins has been less than effective on set pieces, so the Timbers need to be careful about where they give up a foul. Which segues nicely into the next point.
5. The Refs
Who knows. On some level I think they just like crazy situations. They all conference call after the game and compare various calls and non-calls, those with the best reffed games buy the winner drinks. That said, they are generally even-handed in their crazy, with two real exceptions: whiners and crowd influence. Both of these play into our hands. For starters,
if Beckham complained any more...never mind, not possible. The Timbers do lose their discipline sometimes, but rarely piss off the referee. But its the second item that I think really helps. How many times has an MLS ref non called something, then a few seconds later seemingly remembered he has a whistle? More than USSF is willing to acknowledge, and most frequently on the home team's pitch. These guys, for all their faults, are pros, but JWF is loud, really really loud, and the fans are not afraid to voice their displeasure. This gets into refs heads, especially the inexperienced ones...and guess what! Our head ref has called 9 games! And given three Red Cards! This should be fun. Honestly, this point could go either way, but the Galaxy don't have a good history when the cards don't go their way.
4. Captain Jack
Is exhausted. Playing every minute over the course of the season is finally catching up to him. But that said, he is the leader of this team. These past few games he has had a tough time being a factor against fitter, rested, and more talented CM's. Against the Galaxy, however, his defensive responsibilities are much less. They essentially boil down to helping on Donovan(hardly easy, but a group task), and occasionally checking to see if Becks is still breathing. If he can be used as the weapon he is, rather than the do everything handyman role he has played all season, the team will benefit.
You know it's coming. Nagbe is going to have a breakout game, and my hope is that it comes tomorrow night. He can be impossible to defend, but he has had trouble finding the ball in the Timber's offense. LA's defense is quite good, but if Nagbe can find some room, he has all the talent in the world, and can make huge plays look easy. He is a potential best XI at this level, and from a pure talent perspective he will be one of the top 3 players on the pitch(Donovan and Gonzalez being the others). His team needs him, and this is when he needs to step up. Which brings us to point 2.
2. Who Cares?
This is another road game for the Galaxy. After the drubbing they delivered to Vancouver, and with a huge match against Dallas looming, who could blame them for letting this match slide. They could come out unfocused, and if they do, the Timbers need to take their chances. This is it for their playoff hopes. Can they lose here and still make the playoffs? Yes. (Optimism, remember?) Will they? (
Well..., Optimism, remember?) The Timbers have proven to be a very streaky team, now is the time to streak the other way.
1. The Fans
JWF is going to be loud. Really really loud. Shake the stadium, threaten to tear it down loud. The only reason we are ahead of Vancouver/Toronto right now is because of the boost the home crowd gave the Timbers after the opening. The players know what's at stake, and so do the fans. They are going to do what they've done all year, and I honestly think the players will respond.
Besides, have you seen the Tetris Dance? Epic.
Anyway, use the comments to come up with your own reasons the Timbers will dominate. Surely there's something.