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Six Degrees: Timbers Lose 1-1

Portland 1, LA Galaxy 1

MLS: Los Angeles Galaxy at Portland Timbers Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

I’ll be honest: this game hurt me. I walked out of Providence Park Saturday afternoon hot, sweaty, exhausted, and very, very angry.

1) It’s been said so many times, it’s almost a cliché, but some draws feel like wins, some draws feel like draws, and some draws feel like 4-0 losses. This game was definitely the latter, mostly because it was so damn winnable.

The LA Galaxy came into the game with one of the worst defenses in the league, with Ola Kamara and both Dos Santos brothers gone to the World Cup, and with a lineup still tired from playing a game on Wednesday night. You couldn’t ask for an easier win for the Timbers. Three points was right there for the taking.

What happened? How did we blow it? In the end, maybe it’s simply this: the Galaxy finished their chances and the Timbers didn’t.

2) I will say this, though: the LA defense played a lot better than expected. They were clogging the box, closing passing lanes, winning headers, and basically looking like a solid defense. Even an above-average defense. Which sucks. They couldn’t have waited a week to figure it out?

But we can’t give them all the credit. The Timbers finishing was just horrifyingly bad. We had an impressive 18 shots on the day, an even-more-impressive 10 of them on target, and I don’t think a single one caused Galaxy goalkeeper David Bingham to break a sweat.

Don’t believe me? Six of Bingham’s nine saves were in the highlight reel and I’ve spliced them all together for you.

Are any of those getting nominated for Save of the Week? Is that a goalkeeper standing on his head? Is anyone gonna say the Timbers got Rimando’d? I don’t think so. I think we had a ton of chances and wasted every single one of them.

3) The Galaxy, on the other hand, had very few chances, but made the most of them, especially on Chris Pontius’s 20th minute goal.

That’s a hell of a play and a hell of a finish. Hard for me to even get angry with our defense. I mean, look at that crazy backheel thing Pontius does. Think he did that on purpose? I kinda do. And even if it wasn’t intentional, he acted like it was, never skipping a beat in turning, lining up his shot, and putting it just inside the far post. Hell of a play, hell of a finish, and we’re down 1-0.

4) We answered with a Diego Valeri PK in the 57th minute. It was Andres Flores who drew the penalty and, in the moment, it wasn’t clear and obvious to me. After seeing the replay, though, yeah, it’s a no-brainer. Jorgen Skjelvik just cleaned him out.

Let’s take a quick moment to appreciate Andres Flores. On the list of off-season acquisitions, I think he had to rank, at best, 4th or 5th. And yet, look at him now. He’s turned into this totally reliable Swiss Army knife of a midfielder. He can play defensively or offensively, and rarely makes mistakes. I love under-the-radar do-everything players like him.

Anyway, Valeri’s PK made it 1-1, but before we move on, there’s something else we need to appreciate: Romain Alessandrini’s reaction to the penalty. I don’t understand it, I just know I love it. The world needs more of this.

5) The last thing I want to talk about – bitch about, really – is Saturday’s roster and how Coach Giovanni Saverese used it. It was bizarre, inexplicable, and bizarrely inexplicable.

The only surprise in the Starting XI was Bill Tuiloma at right back instead of Alvas Powell. We’d never seen Tuiloma at right back, but fine, whatever, I can handle that.

What’s really weird is the bench. We had, not one, not two, but three guys making their first appearance in a match day 18: Modou Jadama, Eryk Williamson, and Foster Langsdorf. Rounding out our quartet of T2 regulars was goalkeeper Kendall McIntosh.

Now, four guys who normally suit up for T2 is noteworthy, and maybe even a little cool, but not bizarre. Not inexplicable.

What’s inexplicable is how many attackers were on the bench. Two. And they were both forwards: Fanendo Adi and Foster Langsdorf. We had zero attacking midfielders and zero wingers.

Did this lack of attackers turn out to be a problem? Yes. Yes it did.

When Diego Valeri left the game with a leg injury in the 75th minute, he wasn’t replaced with an attacking midfielder or a winger, because we didn’t have any attacking midfielders or wingers. Instead, we replaced him with Adi, a forward.

So who filled the Diego Valeri role on the field? Sebastian Blanco? Samuel Armenteros? No one? I was watching closely, and I’m pretty sure the answer is no one.

But wait, it gets worse. In the 85th minute, we replaced Armenteros with... wait for it... Marco Farfan. Are you shitting me? It’s 1-1, at home, against a team we’re supposed to beat, and you’re replacing a forward with a fullback? Again, are you shitting me?

Then, four minutes later, Gio Savarese makes his final substitution, replacing right fullback Bill Tuiloma with... wait for it... wait for it... Lawrence Olum. Again, and with feeling this time, are you shitting me?

I was up in section 203 losing my goddamn mind. Had Gio just given up? Had he decided that a 1-1 draw was the best the team could do?

I have many questions, none of which I can answer, but which I’m gonna ask anyway. Who knows, maybe some of you have answers:

Why not put in Foster Langsdorf? We needed a goal, he’s been tearing it up for T2, why not throw him out there?

Jack Barmby and Jeremy Ebobisse were on the injury report. Wingers Dairon Asprilla and Victor Arboleda were not. Why weren’t they in the 18?

Do we really have such little attacking depth? There were literally zero wingers we could put on the bench?

Did Savarese really think 1-1 was the best we could do? Was he subbing in defenders for fear we’d give up a late goal? This feels like giving up to me. Is this giving up?

Are Asprilla and Arboleda actually injured? Is Langsdorf injured, despite being on the bench? Is the team in the middle of an injury crisis? Do we have, like, three healthy attackers for next week’s game? Blanco, Adi, and Armenteros?

Is this season gonna turn out like 2016, with non-stop, never-healing injuries?

6) Man, that was a long, angry degree. Let me get out of here with some random thoughts.

  • My Man of the Match was Zarek Valentin. The Galaxy attacked his side all game long and he rose to the occasion over and over. Just first-rate work.
  • Bill Tuiloma has some serious hops. He’s a huge threat on set pieces.
  • We got to see 10 minutes with our two forwards playing together. Did you like it? Think we’ll see it again?
  • Speaking of forwards, I’ve said plenty – maybe even too much – about Fanendo Adi this year, so this week I’ll let this wise tweeter say it for me.

  • Diego Chara’s 62nd minute persistent infringement yellow means he won’t play next weekend against Sporting KC. You know who I’d love to see take his spot (though I really don’t think I will)? Eryk Williamson. Apparently, he’s crushing it for T2. Give the kid a chance, Gio!
  • Speaking of T2 regulars, we’ll probably see a lot of them playing this Wednesday in our US Open Cup match versus San Jose. Unless, of course, our injuries are so bad that it’s all hands on deck. Hell, for all I know, I’ll be starting on Wednesday night.
  • And finally, the weekend wasn’t a total bust, since Seattle lost again. They’re at 0.73 PPG, and if they want to make it to 50 points this year, they’ll have to average 1.83 PPG the rest of the season. Considering they’ve scored seven goals all year and have been shut out 8 times in 11 games, I feel confident in saying they’ll miss the playoffs. So we’ve got that going for us. Which is nice.