Hi again. It's that time of week where instead of doing literally anything else that could make me a productive member of society, I spend a few hours simulating this week's matchup against the Whitecaps in a video game, and telling you about that experience. Our first go at this left me in both emotional and physical shambles - let's see how this match plays out.
Timbers Lineup - Don't Fix What Ain't Broke:
With the match against TFC going so well, and *knocks on wood vigorously* no additional injuries to report of, we're going to assume virtual Caleb Porter makes no adjustments to last week's starters. What I will hilarious note, is that Jake Gleeson's overall rating went from 60 to 64 after standing on his head in his last outing, and as you will see, he made the most of that boost.
Whitecaps Lineup - No Manneh, No Problems:
Taking a look at the Vancouver beat writers, as well as previous match ups, I cobbled my best guess at the lineup below knowing that the explosive Kekuta Manneh and his 94 pace rating would be out due to a red card. And yes, I am deeply disappointed with myself for that forced pun in the title; I expect someone to immediately show me up in the comments.
At the beginning of the "broadcast" (yes, yes it's all real I tell myself), Martin Tyler actually goes on about what a great stadium BC Place is in a canned recoding that frankly seems a little much. If you have run out of paint to watch dry, you can get indignant by watching the first minute or so here.
First Half Lowlights:
Early in the game, I'm reminded by this comment from JoeyinTimberland:
...And right on cue, Mr. Mattocks fell right into this habit by perpetually ignoring Adi runs over and over again. To save us both the grief, I'll only gif this once and you'll just have to take me at my word that it was a continuing trope.
Two big themes in the last Timbers' outing was 1) a lack of defensive cohesion at times and 2) Jake Gleeson having to bail everyone out for their defending sins. That continued in this match, and was at times compounded by the fact that NAT BORCHERS REFUSES TO USE TURBO. Now, I know that "turbo" isn't something with real world applicability, it's replaced by some phrase like "speed" or "acceleration" "giddy up", but c'mon, Rivero should not be sprung up on a counter like this. At least look like you're trying to catch him.
Luckily, he was bailed out by our Kiwi boy wonder. But how long would that last:
The 12th minute featured a rare glimmer of Timbers offensive competence, with Melano sprung onto net all alone. Close your eyes. Take several deep breaths. Go past all the uncomfortable thoughts you have about listening to a stranger on the internet, and go all zen. In the nothingness where only you exist, ask yourself, "Do I think Luca scores fulfilling all of his potential?" You may now scroll for the answer:
Screw Scott Pilgrim, this is basically Jake Gleeson against the world in some kind of cruel gauntlet like competition.
First this blast from the top of the 18:
Then, after punching away the ensuing corner, he has to do his best Soulja Boy impresion to make up for everyone's defensive lethargy.
We are all Witness.
Diego Valeri is able to break down the middle of the defense with a beautiful ball in to Adi, who unlike his IRL self, misses wide. And with that disappointment, the first half ends.
The Agony and Ecstasy of the Second Half:
The Timbers move the ball quickly up the field on a fast break counter after defending a corner. Mattocks, Adi, and Melano are running on net with the nearest Whitecap defender a solid 10 yards behind them. Surely, a goal has to result?
Now, while that is technically offside by two inches, we both know that no sane assistant is going to throw his flag in the air for that. So once again, the powers at BIG REFEREE stamp out a beautiful Adi header into the back of the net, and can't cut the Timbers any slack. I jump off of my couch and start shouting "ATTICA, ATTICA, ATTICA" in protest; it does nothing but rile up the dog and cause her to pee inside. I start to feel a sense of shame.
Both teams continue to miss a ton of shots; Nat Borchers refuses to use the turbo button; a number of substitutions happen:
McInerney on for Adi
Asprilla on for Mattocks
Kudo on for Rivero
Timbers are defending a corner and Liam Ridgewell absolutely blasts the ball out of the box with his beautiful British head, far past the pressing Whitecaps defense. The picture below results. Does Jack:
A) Send a light pass to Valeri, probably the most gifted shooter on the team, with a wide open net and fantastic angle.
B) Send it back to a trailing Mattocks, going for the crazy like a fox approach.
C) Shoot it directly on net even though he doesn't have the best of angles. No goal is scored.
I've written 887 words at this point. For most of them I have bemoaned the performance of Nat Borchers, a man who if I were to meet, I would immediately try to rub beards together with like a creepy person before security drags me away because he is so beloved. As Sil use to say on the Sopranos; "But just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!"
Did Virtual Borchers (who has decided to become a bottle blonde) just throw up a heart, blow a kiss and do a little shimmy? Yes.
We've been in this position many times before as Timbers fan: they get a late equalizer, and then we're left to clench and monitor our high blood pressure as the team tries to see out the remaining few minutes without bumbling away the point.
Nat Borchers thew up a heart in that previous gif...and now he was going to smash it.
Techera streaks down the sideline and while everyone is matched up expected the cross, Nat is just lallygagging around, refusing to track, use his R2 button, or frankly think about anything except performing additional dance moves.
The results are predictable. Lack of defensive cohesion didn't hurt the Timbers last week, but it did now.
The Timbers lost 2-1 in a bit of a heartbreaker. Hopefully that isn't what occurs tomorrow IRL, but until that time, I'm 1) going to rock myself gently and try to get that Borchers gif out of my head and 2) promise myself that I will not shout at the TV tomorrow "R2 NAT, R2, USE THE TURBO" like an insane person.