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Six Degrees: A Busy Week

Word Count 1,000,000, DeMann 1

MLS: Mobile Mini Sun Cup-Portland Timbers at New York Red Bulls Jacob Snow-USA TODAY Sports

What a difference a week makes. Has it really been just a week? So much happened, it feels like two or three weeks.

1) This time a week ago, the Timbers were making a serious offer for Tigres forward Eduardo Vargas. Now, it doesn’t seem to be happening at all.

Will Tigres come back to the Timbers if no one else wants Vargas? Perhaps. Do the Timbers have another forward in their sights? Perhaps. Do I want them to panic and sign someone who’s not right for the team? Hell no. Would I be okay with them waiting until mid-summer to sign someone? Absolutely. Am I hoping Jeremy Ebobisse bangs in 10 goals by then, making the search for a DP striker unnecessary? You bet I do. Do I know more about this than you do? Probably not. I’m on the outside looking in, just like you.

2) This time a week ago, we hadn’t heard a thing about River Plate right back Jorge Moreira. Now, he’s in Tuscon, working out with the boys, and as of lunchtime Wednesday, officially joining the team.

As the Timbers often do, it’s a one year loan, with Portland holding an option to buy his contract at the end of the year. These kind of loans are pretty low-risk, high-reward for the Timbers, which is nice.

I can’t predict whether Moreira’s going to have a successful year. His River Plate pedigree is impressive, and his TAM-level salary makes me think the Timbers won’t want to sit him on the bench. But Zarek Valentin’s a scrappy dude. He beat out both Vytas and Alvas. Maybe he’ll beat out Moreira, too.

3) This time a week ago, we hadn’t seen the Timbers play any preseason games. Now, we’ve seen two.

What did we learn from last Wednesday’s 2-1 victory over Seattle 2nd team and Saturday’s 2-2 draw with New York’s 3rd team? Probably not much, since it’s preseason, players aren’t fully in shape, and coaches haven’t fully figured out who their top guys are. Regardless, here are some things that we’ve kinda, sorta, maybe, perhaps learned.

We’ve learned that Gio hasn’t decided who his starting striker is, Lucas Melano or Jeremy Ebobisse. Luca is doing his usual Luca thing, which is to look really good at everything except scoring goals. Jebo, meanwhile, has scored twice. Or maybe just once. It’s hard to tell if this is an own goal or now.

4) More things we’ve kinda, sorta, maybe, perhaps learned?

We’ve learned that Gio likes Julio Cascante next to Larrys Mabiala. Though, after watching the two of them get scorched by the Red Bulls Saturday, he might be reconsidering.

We’ve learned that Diego Chara can still boss a midfield while barely breaking a sweat.

We’ve learned that Sebastian Blanco’s still hella aggressive. We’ve learned that Andy Polo’s still hella not.

We’re learned that Marvelous Marvin Loria can splinter a goal post when he wants to.

And much to my surprise, we’ve learned that, even in preseason, Eryk Williamson, Foster Langsdorf, and Renzo Zambrano still can’t get playing time. This really surprises me, as I thought they’d be players to watch this year. Are they really that far down the depth chart? If so, I’m bummed.

But as I said at the start, it’s preseason, so none of this is set in stone. A lot can change between now and opening day.

5) This time a week ago, Portland State University’s football team played their home games at Providence Park. Now, they’re playing in Hillsboro.

Last Friday’s announcement never uses the word “permanent,” but it does kind of imply it.

With this news, a lot of Timbers fans a getting geeked up for a grass field at Providence Park, maybe as soon as 2020. Forgive me, but I want to pump the brakes a tiny, tiny bit.

For starters, what if PSU doesn’t like the Hillsboro situation? What if they want to come back in a year or two? I think Providence Park is contractually obligated to host them. If they want to come back, six football games a year would really fuck up a grass pitch.

Second reason to pump the brakes: wasn’t there some sort of issue with Tanner Creek running under the stadium? Maybe it caused drainage issues? Or maybe a grass field weighs more than a turf field, so they thought it might collapse some pipes/tunnels down there?

I’m not positive about the Tanner Creek thing, nor am I positive about PSU’s right to come back any time they wish, but I’m hoping some of you will know and can educate us down in the comments. And in the meantime, maybe we should hold off on that grass field victory lap.

(And here’s a thought that’s so far removed from the Timbers that I’m hiding it here in parentheses: should PSU even have a football program? It’s an expensive sport, they play in front of very few people, and ohbytheway, they’re giving the next generation of American men brain damage.

And if we leave Portland and look at this from a national perspective, at some point, some public school system in America’s going to say, “You know what? For years, we’ve been knowingly giving the young men of this town brain damage. No more. We’re henceforth eliminating football from our school system. If you want your kid to play football, you can transfer him to some high school in the next town over. We’re not going to have that blood on our hands any more.”

Some school system’s gonna be the first to do this. Why not Portland?)

6) And now, back to soccer. Or sorta soccer. Remember how a few weeks ago I went on that long digression about professional wrestling, but then eventually brought it back around to the Timbers? Imma do that again. Only this time, instead of professional wrestling, the topic is Good Ideas You Had, But Didn’t Act On.

Have you ever had one of those? A really cool idea – maybe for a business or an invention or something – but you didn’t act on it? And then a few years later, someone else somewhere had the same idea, but they did act on it and got famous and made a bunch of money and all you got was feeling really stupid? Has that ever happened to you?

When I was in college, I had this cool idea for a novel about a serial killer who kills other serial killers. I never acted on my idea, and then a few years ago the TV show Dexter came out and I was like, Dang it, that was my idea! Why didn’t I write that novel when I had the chance?

It’s happened to me again, only this time it’s not some Hollywood studio who acted on my idea, it’s the goddamn Seattle Sounders. They just changed their USL team’s name to the Tacoma Avengers or some such bullshit, and they’re gonna play their games in Tacoma, and I’m like, Dang it, that was my idea! Why didn’t I buy the Timbers from Merritt Paulson and have T2 play their games in Salem when I had the chance?

It’s a cool idea, right? I had it all worked out in my head. I’d have the entire team live in Portland, practice at the Beaverton training facility, and basically just be the same T2 that we have right now. Only on game days, we’d rent out a bus, ride down to Salem, put on our purple Salem FC kits, and play for our home fans in Salem. Great idea, right?

Except the goddamn Sounders stole my idea before I could buy the team and put it into action,

But here’s a question: do you think Merritt Paulson should do it anyway? Should T2 become Salem FC? (Or the Salem Saints or the Salem Senators or whatever.) What’s the downside? A long bus ride before and after games? That’s about it. I really think the USL team would get more fans in Salem than they do up here in Portland, plus maybe it would make some Salem folks a little more aware of the first team, which might turn into TV money or scarf sales or something.

I tell ya, when it comes to great ideas that aren’t acted upon, I’m a goddamn genius.

(Word count update: 1418. Ouch. That’s horrendous. Not surprising, though. When I started down the twin rabbit holes of brain damage and Salem FC, I knew my word count target was screwed.)