After months of obsessing over personnel moves and injury reports, we can finally obsess over a real, live soccer game! Well, sorta real. Preseason. But still, definitely a game. Let’s get into it.
1) New player #1, Felipe Mora.
I’ve gotta be honest, I’m not ready to give a strong opinion on Mora. He seemed okay. He drew the penalty that Valeri finished, so that’s something. But on the whole, Mora’s performance didn’t really jump out at me.
However, there are quite a few people on the interwebs who disagree with me. I saw tweeters tweeting tweets about how active and involved Mora was, and others raving about how good he was getting back on defense. It’s quite possible those people are right. I hope so. I want Mora to be awesome. I’m just gonna need more time before I pass judgment.
2) New player #2, Yimmi Chara.
And I feel almost exactly the same about Yimmi. Just like with Mora, there are some folks raving about him, but I’m not there yet. I didn’t see amazing work from him in the attack, nor on defense. He was just kind of blah.
Since this is preseason, I’m mostly okay with him being blah. He’s still figuring the team out, after all. But let’s not wait too long, eh, Yimmi? We’ve had blah wingers before. We need you to be more than that. We need a firecracker.
3) New player #3, Dario Zuparic.
Zuparic had a couple nice moments, but there were other things that concerned me. I just can’t decide if they were his fault or not.
Did you notice how often Vancouver had uncovered attackers on the back post? At least three or four times on Sunday night, one of our fullbacks was out there trying to cover two attackers. And I’m not talking about way out on the sideline, I’m talking about in the box. Which, fun fact, is a really bad place to have attackers hanging out uncovered.
Who do we blame for this? Did Zuparic or Larrys Mabiala drift centrally, leaving a fullback with two guys to cover? Or did our d-mids miscommunicate?
Considering that everyone on the defense played together last year except Zuparic, it seems possible that he’s the problem. Unless he’s not. What did you see? Gimme your opinions down below. Actually, I want your opinions on all three new guys. Talk some sense into me.
4) Moving on our returning players, how about that goal from Andy Polo?
Just 15 seconds into the second half... Andy Polo did this. #RCTID | @old_trapper pic.twitter.com/YyVZewkJvW— Portland Timbers (@TimbersFC) February 17, 2020
That was either a really amazing shot or a really shitty pass. I’m leaning towards “really shitty pass.” A Kalif Alhassan “shross” if you will. Regardless, it’s the single best thing Polo’s done as a Timber. Except, perhaps, for changing his number.
Number shakeup we should see for @TimbersFC: Jarek Niezgoda's preferred is 11, held by Andy Polo. He was going to take 9, instead. That's Felipe Mora's favorite. Hearing Mora has negotiated a solution that leaves him as 9, Niezgoda as 11, with Polo shifting to 7. #rctid #mls— Richard Farley (@richardfarley) February 4, 2020
Speaking of underachieving Timbers, did you see who finished the game wearing the captain’s arm band? Dairon Asprilla, baby! He’s back! He’s always back! He’ll never leave! Your grandchildren will watch Dairon Asprilla wear the green and gold! No one can explain this!
5) Things on Sunday that I liked.
- Diego Chara running around like he’s 23 years old. Yet another player your grandchildren will get to see play. Yet another thing no one can explain.
- Diego Valeri’s through ball on Polo’s goal. The old man’s defense ain’t so great these days, but his feet can still do magic.
- Sebastian Blanco popping up all over the field. I swear he was playing left back at one point.
- Jeremy Ebobisse coming back from his meniscus surgery. He only played 15 minutes, but it was still good to see.
6) Things on Sunday that have me worried.
- Jarek Niezgoda not coming back from his surgery. (Update: He is back in training as of today and is on track with his recovery timeline. -Will) Is it the heart ablation he’s recovering from or something else? I want the guy playing real minutes as soon as possible. I want a three-way competition for the starting striker role.
- Larrys Mabiala’s red hair. I won’t worry about this if it stops with Larrys, but what if it becomes a trend? What if this is the 2020 version of frosted tips? Are you ready to watch 11 guys running around with dyed red hair? I’m not sure I am.
- Aljaz Ivacic’s name. Does anyone know how to pronounce this guy’s name, both first and last? You may think it’s pointless to learn the backup goalkeeper’s name, but I’ll remind you that twice in the last two years, the guy who opened the season as the backup goalkeeper ended it as the starter. Will Mr. Unpronounceable make it three years in a row?
- Our defense is seriously lacking depth. With Zarek Valentin gone, and Bill Tuiloma and Andres Flores injured, I’m not sure we have a single Swiss Army Knife on the roster. Maybe Renzo Zambrano? We finished Sunday’s game with a right back named Bonilla, a right center back named Duvall, and that’s literally all I know about them. Everyone start lighting candles and saying prayers for our defenders. Until Bill and Andres get healthy, we really need them to stay healthy.
- Beers at the stadium now cost $11.50. Are they trying to get us to drink less? Is this a very subtle temperance movement?
- I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, if the Timbers got rid of their concessionaires and replaced them with food carts, we would instantly have the best stadium food on the planet. I would be very happy to lead this initiative. Hit me up, Merritt.