The 2012 Portland Timber's is entering into its final, merciful quarter. A sophomore MLS season that ranks up there with polio, leprosy, and Ted Nugent songs in terms of enjoyment.
We've witnessed our leading scorer from last season traded and then score fourteen goals and counting for the Red Bulls. Losing to Cal FC and an opportunity to play the Sounders at home for the US Open Cup. The firing of a very popular coach in John Spencer. The inexplicable trading of their most reliable, and arguably best, player in Troy Perkins. And, finally, falling to dead last in the standings up to last week.
It's been bad.
In the stands, I've watched at normally enthusiastic and joyful supporters turn on the entire Timbers team ("care like we do?"); Kris Boyd ("Get Fatboy off the field"); Merritt Paulson and, finally, Gavin Wilkinson (too many 'GW Out' signs to count).
I've watched fans turn on each other as to the ills of the team.
In recent weeks, there seems to be a turning point that perhaps the worst is, thankfully, behind us and we can simply start being Timber fans once again rather gathering the pitchforks and lanterns.
So, how can the season end on a positive note? I've heard chatter of 'making the playoffs'. Sorry, with six of our remaining eight games against the likes of Seattle, San Jose, and Real Salt Lake, that's just not going to happen.
Over the last four games, we've seen a dynamic level of play that focuses more on attacking, passing, and pushing forward. The team has picked up seven point out of a possible twelve and scored seven goals. If they'd had that level of performance throughout the season, we'd be talking about being first in our table rather than making the playoffs.
For starters, how about one road win? That would be really nice. It's embarrassing that we're the only MLS team without a road win this year.
Winning the Cascadia Cup would, undoubtedly, be the most positive thing to happen and a high note to end the season. To do that, we'll need to beat Seattle in one of two remaining games. Seattle is on a tear right now and they won't be the same team we beat in June. They'll be out for blood.
Lastly, and most importantly, how about some consistency? The team is playing really well right now and how about keeping up that level of performance? Watching this team early in the season beat the likes of Seattle, San Jose, and Kansas City and then get slaughtered on the road and give up an endless amount of goals in the final fifteen minutes was just... deflating.Wrongfully, I feel, it looked the team just didn't care or were too lazy to finish.
It would seem that Nagbe, Songo'o, Dike, and Zizzo, in particular, really enjoy playing with one another and they seemed to have developed a great partnership. I'd love to see them build on that and continue to improve. No doubt teams will start clamping down on Nagbe and I'd like to see him adjust to the extra marking and enforcing his will on the opponents.
Only time will tell how the Timber's finish the season, but it sure was fun at Colorado's game, I'd like to come away with more smiles than frowns.