This week’s key words? “Costa Rica” and “Kids.”
1) A week ago against Panama, striker Jeremy Ebobisse played for the USMNT at... left winger? This week against Costa Rica, he played at... bench-sitter? So, all in all, not the greatest couple weeks in young Jebo’s life. Hopefully, he got something out of the four-week camp, though, and returns to the Timbers in better condition than he left it.
But of course, Jebo wasn’t the only Timber on international duty. While he was riding the pine against Costa Rica, a couple Timbers were out there on the field.
David Guzman starting for Costa Rica was expected, and to be honest, he looked like a calm, composed veteran the whole time.
Marvelous Marvin Loria‘s start? That was a surprise, and a very exciting one.
Did I learn anything about Marvin in watching the game? Not a huge amount, but a bit. He spent the game switching between right midfield and right wing, while occasionally drifting into the center of the pitch, almost like he wanted to play the 10. He and Gooz switched off on free kicks, with Gooz going righty and Loria going lefty. In fact, the most exciting moments were on two different corner kicks, when it looked like Marvin was trying to curl it directly into net. Was that intentional? Was he going for the Olimpico? Keep an eye on that if he ever takes a corner for the Timbers. He may go straight for goal.
2) Meanwhile, at training camp down in Costa Rica, the Timbers had their first preseason game. It was on Monday against Saprissa, and sadly, it wasn’t streamed online, but here’s who played.
To-my-knowledge still-unsigned-rookie Ryan Sierakowski was the only guy to play the full 90. Is this significant? Does it mean Gio likes him? Hates him? Or is he just the only guy who’s full-90 fit? As usual, I have many questions, but no answers.
Richard Farley wrote a very nice breakdown of the game, which you can read here.
Richard will need to write something similar again this week, because Thursday morning’s game against C.S. Herediano – Portland’s last game in Costa Rica – won’t be streamed, either.
Fortunately, the team will soon be moving their preseason operations to Tuscon, Arizona, and I’m pretty sure all those games will be televised. Stay strong, people. Soon we will be watching actual Timbers on actual fields playing actual soccer. Yes, it’s just preseason, but I’ll take whatever I can get. This junkie needs his fix.
3) Who were the goal scorers in the 4-0 win over Saprissa’s backups? Guy-we-know Dairon Asprilla, guy-we-know Lucas Melano, and guy-we-don’t-know-because-he-played-a-total-of-72-minutes-last-year Tomas Conechny.
Will Conechny be the young Timber who breaks through in 2019? If not him, then who?
If you were to bet money on which young Timber (and you can’t pick Jebo, he’s already established) would play the most minutes this year, who would you pick? Conechny? Cristhian Paredes? Marvelous Marvin Loria? Renzo Zambrano? Eryk Williamson? Foster Langsdorf? Someone I’m not thinking of?
My money’s on Paredes. He had some personal issues last year (very well covered in this feature by Jamie Goldberg) but I’m hoping he’s done with those now. My money’s on him to be the young Timber who breaks through in 2019.
Who’s your money on? Also, am I cheating by picking Paredes? Is he already established? I feel like I may be cheating.
4) We may need those young fellows to play big minutes, because our season-opening 12-game road trip is going to be brutally exhausting. Check out what Jorge Villafaña told Richard Farley.
Jorge Villafaña, today, talked a bit about the specter of @TimbersFC's 12 games away to open the season. That number (12) may be less important the the actual mileage of each trip, to him: #RCTID pic.twitter.com/MoUkFehZPs— Richard Farley (@richardfarley) January 23, 2019
And the players aren’t the only ones suffering. The families back home will struggle, too, as Jamie Goldberg noted in her article.
For both the players and the families, this long, long, lonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnng road trip to start the year is gonna be an absolute meat-grinder.
5) But you know the bright side of having tired starters? It’s a perfect chance to play your kids. In fact, I’ve got a crazy idea for you. An idea so crazy, it just might work!
On Wednesday May 15, we play in Houston. It’s the 11th game of our 12-game road trip. Here’s my crazy idea: leave all the starters in Portland. Every damn one of them. Let ‘em rest, let ‘em take care of their kids, let ‘em watch the game from the comfort of their living rooms.
So who plays in their absence? Does this starting XI do anything for you? McIntosh, Farfan, Cascante, Jadama, Tuiloma (captain), Paredes, Williamson, Loria, Zambrano, Conechny, Langsdorf.
You’re not winning MLS Cup with that lineup, but on a rainy Wednesday night in Houston? Why not? And as an added bonus, that game would be hella fun to watch. Hella.
Who’s with me on this?
6) And a quick final degree: go listen to the first podcast put out by Jeff Attinella and Zarek Valentin. It’s their very first one, they haven’t settled on a name, but I still found it an enjoyable 30 minutes.
The best parts were when they took us behind the scenes at MLS Cup, talking about things we fans would never see. Jeff Jeff Jeff’s story about the kid he walked onto the field with was awesome, while at the final whistle, Zarek was just trying not to get run over by a big metal stage.
If they continue with this podcast, I hope they focus on stuff like that, stuff we fans don’t ever see.
(Word count update: 892. Sigh... Maybe I should set my target at 900 words. I could actually achieve that.)