Plenty of front office activity this past week to include the trade of Troy Perkins for Donovan Ricketts and the movement of Mike Chabala to DC United. Part of the move with Mike also included the Timbers adding a 1st Round MLS Supplemental Draft pick for 2014 as well as signing the Kiwi, Ian Hogg, for the remainder of the season.
Most everyone knows that there have been strong opinions expressed by many pundits, sports editors, TV announcers, and front office staff from all three MLS organizations. As I said before I'm not going to add to the muckraking. So with that said here's my WTWF's in this game against Toronto.
WTWF #1 Donovan Ricketts = Given all the attention and discussion about adding Donovan Ricketts it seems quite reasonable, for me, that my first WTWF in this game will be how well Donovan Ricketts performs.
WTWF #2 Back-four = Since no goal keeper ever stands alone in this game a return favorite for me is the back-four. Again there will always remain the need to play tight, play high and play in a line. Communication will be critical for everyone this game; even more so with a new goal keeper between the pipes. We have a huge gap in goals against versus goals scored, you can always get a point if you hold the opponent scoreless so I'm pretty sure this WTWF will be one I have every single game!
WTWF #3 Short balls from square one = In staying with the back (defense) I'm going to be a stickler with logging the number and success/failure of long balls and short balls played from square one. IMHO no statistic better indicates what level of confidence a team has in moving the ball forward (through possession) than short balls from square one. So bottom line; the more we play short balls from square one the greater our level of confidence in our defense as well as our midfield.
Without digressing too much, this approach gets back to what I've talked about before; defense first, defense second and attack third.
For me, Defense first represents the mindset that when you don't have the ball you get behind the ball to get the ball in whatever ways or means you have within the legal limitations of the game.
Defense second represents the mindset that when you do have the ball - the opponent doesn't - therefore, logically, this translates to being defensive - but only up to a point - that point is when you enter the attacking third of the pitch. I have heard some pundits say this is counter-intuitive, bollocks, IMHO this is pure logic at its best. Whenever the opponent does not have the ball the opponent cannot score!
Attack third basically is what it is; when deep in the opponents side you are in the attacking third of the pitch. Seek short balls, crosses, through balls, fouls, corners, throw-ins, whatever it takes to put the ball in the 6 or 18 yard box where you can get a shot on goal (preferably the far post).
Key to remember is that when in the attacking third always look to take advantage of an opponent who is out of position. If you can't and have to recycle back to the middle third of the pitch then return to the mindset of defense second and begin a new.
WTWF #4 = Controlled, measured tackles and close down activities by everyone and anyone that is in the attacking half of the pitch. Turn overs in the opponents defensive half present great opportunities to take advantage of players being out of position. We already know Diego Chara is good at this; now I will take a closer look at how Darlington Nagbe focuses on wining the ball in the attacking half.
My thoughts are we will again open up with a 4-3-3 formation while in attack and rotate quickly back into a 4-5-1 when in defense. Since it remains unclear to me if Futty Danso is match fit I will go with Kimura, Mosquera, Horst and Smith in the back four, Jack Jewsbury will again be at the helm of the midfield with Diego Chara and Darlington Nagbe most likely returning to their positions as well.
Now who slots in where Franck has played of late (suspended yellow card accumulation)? Plenty of choices but my gut says we will go with Danny Mwanga or Mike Fucito and Brent Richards again as the wide-out on the right. I had considered adding Kris Boyd as an additional WTWF this week but with Songo'o sitting I imagine it would not be an ideal time to see Kris Boyd drop back more and play a role similar to Robbie Keane with the LA Galaxy. I will keep an eye and hopefully Kris gets more than the meager distribution he got against FC Dallas.
Final thoughts: I envision Ricketts, Kimura, Mosquera, Horst, Smith, Jewsbury, Chara, Nagbe, Mwanga, Boyd, and Richards getting the nod. Subs for this game should include Kalif Alhassan, Rodney Wallace, Mike Fucito, Bright Dike, Gleeson (If fit?), Lovel Palmer and perhaps Futty Danso. If Futty is not match fit then perhaps we might see Ryan Kawulok as a sub?
In closing, with the completion of these next two games I will be publishing my LOGJAM in the Midfield Part III.
Alright guys, I don't believe I have to say this but, just in case, please do not submit anything racist, homophobic, sexist or otherwise not appropriate for even the younger Timbers fans.