Toronto hasn't been playing like a house on fire, exactly
...It's the end of Summer.
All you had to do was look at the schedule in April, and you knew August was going to be tough. Two Cascadia matches with Seattle away and 2 with RSL make a tough month. Nobody thought Dallas was going to be any good. But back in April even they were beating the world. The silver lining was a September and October full of Toronto and Chivas, no travel east, and home matches with RSL, LA, and Seattle.
Looking more closely, that cloud might be a wall cloud and the silver lining could be the making of a F5 twister.
What happened? The weak are getting stronger and Murphy showed up. Big time.
The Timbers should still be favored at home, but the Bocanegra led Chivas team is not the roadkill we saw at Jeld-Wen in May. And Toronto is showing signs of life. They drew at Houston which is a tough place to play. They've beaten the Revs...and absent really bad luck they'd have won twice. But still, neither team is a serious match for a healthy Timbers squad.
Coach Porter has perfected Coachspeak. Injuries are part of the game. Baldomaro Toledo slipping a gear and pulling a red instead of yellow is part of the game. National team call ups are part of the game. Clint Dempsey in Seattle with no remuneration wasn't part of the game but is now. Don't let your highs get too high. Don't let your lows get too low.
I hate to be the one to offer us all a big whiff of Stumptown Roasters finest, but it just ain't true. Boys and girls, we have some serious issues this week against Toronto. These injuries are not part of the game.
Let's classify the roster in four buckets: definately out, probably out, walking wounded and game fit.
Definately out (8): Ricketts, RJ, Powell, Miller, DTG, Silvestre, Richards and Z-man. And Nanchoff, if we're counting the online roster.
Probably out (4): Valeri, Horst, Piguionne, Jewsbury
Walking wounded (3): Futty, Dike, WJ
Game fit (13): Alhassan, Chara, Evans, Gleeson, Harrington, Kah, Kocic, McKenzie, Nagbe, Rincon, Trencito, RodWal, and Zizzo. (Are we the only MLS roster with two Z's?)
Let's say CP has to fill out a roster with only the healthy. Here's who we have to go to war with Toronto on the pitch:
D: Harrington, Kah, AJB, Zizzo
M: Alhassan, Chara, Nagbe, Wallace
F: Trencito, Rincon
Bench: McKenzie, Gleeson, Evans and a M*A*S*H unit.
Injuries may be part of the game, but this is like saying the Black Death is part of winter flu season. All the sudden, easy wins needed to get ready for the playoffs start to have the look of must-win struggles. And if we think Nagbe took a lot of shots with the others on the field, he's going to draw triple teams and haymakers until a few more threats return.
Now, a couple key recoveries (Valeri, WJ, Pique would be a nice start) will help a lot. But, a card here, a knee there... and the Timbers could find themselves on the outside looking in.
So, if you've got a patent potion or majick cure for the injury bug, send it along to GW and MP immediately. If you're into the power of prayer...lend the Timbers your intentions. Otherwise, get down to Jeld-Wen and root-on the boys in green and gold to create every advantage our home field can offer. 'Cause the season just got a lot more interesting than we'd expected or hoped.