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Six Degrees: Three Points, Zero Fun

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Portland 1, Nashville 0

MLS: Nashville SC at Portland Timbers Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Today’s column is going to be short and pessimistic. If you’re looking for something more upbeat, turn back now.


1) I don’t actually have a whole lot to say about Sunday’s 1-0 win over Nashville, which seems fitting, since not a whole lot happened.

The Timbers had a total of three shots on the day, and none after the first 24 minutes.

Did we win? Yes. Did I enjoy it? No. Am I worried I’ll be seeing more games like this moving forward? Yes. Yes I am.

2) Let’s take a look at the game’s most enjoyable moment, Diego Valeri’s 12th minute goal.

The funny thing is, I didn’t really see this goal when it happened. I was too busy looking at the assistant referee, waiting for him to raise his flag. It was only on seeing the replay that I realized, no, Valeri was well onside.

Gorgeous goal, too. Despite not looking that dangerous, Valeri has two goals in two games, which sounds impressive.

But that stat also applies to the entire team — two goals in two games — which doesn’t sound impressive at all.

3) And as far as the Timbers attack goes, Valeri’s goal was pretty much it. Sebastian Blanco had a shot in the 3rd minute, Felipe Mora had a shot in the 24th minute, and that was it. The attackers were done for the day.

Here are the stats.

We beat Nashville in four categories. Yellow cards, tackles won, saves, and clearances.

Yes, I’ll acknowledge that the Timbers have always been good at absorbing pressure, then hitting on the counter, but that didn’t really happen in this game. There was no real counter, it was just absorb, absorb, absorb. Once the team got the lead, they set up in a deep bunker and held on for dear life.

At home.

Against a team playing their second game ever.

Forgive me if I’m less than impressed.

4) Here’s the shot chart for the second half.

That chart shows shots, passes leading to shots, and successful crosses. They’re all from Nashville. Portland didn’t put a single mark on this chart in the second half. Not a one.

I don’t know about the rest of the crowd, but I spent those final 45 minutes hating the boring soccer I was having to watch and emotionally preparing myself for the team giving up a tying goal. Not the most pleasant way to spend a Sunday evening.

5) Some random thoughts.

  • Jorge Moreira missed this game due to injury — he’s had a meniscectomy and will be out maybe a month — and Chris Duval replaced him at right back. Duval’s not terribly quick, and I didn’t entirely trust him 1v1, but he was part of the season’s first shutout, so that’s something.
  • Andy Polo was a surprise starter in the defensive midfield over Cristhian Paredes. It’s not the first personnel change I would have gone with, but I guess Gio thought Paredes was a problem in the first game. Maybe he saw a need for speed?
  • Everyone who’s been worried about Valeri’s legs was happy to see him pulled in the 62nd minute. It was Paredes who came in for him, replacing Polo in the middle, while Polo shifted out to the left wing, and Blanco went central.
  • In the 74th minute Jeremy Ebobisse replaced Yimmi Chara on the right wing, while everyone else stayed where they were.
  • Speaking of Jebo, he’ll be leaving the team soon, as he’s been called up to the national U23 team. Details here.

6) My final, very pessimistic thoughts.

Do I think the Timbers are terrible? No. Do I think they’re terrible to watch? Yeah, kinda.

Three points are always welcome, but they aren’t always fun. I want Timbers games to be fun again. I want us to play attractive, enjoyable soccer. All these new attacking players we’ve signed? I want us to use them. To, you know, attack.

Is it possible that we’ll keep banging out ugly wins and take it all the way to an MLS Cup? Yeah, maybe. It’s even possible that, at some point, I’ll start to appreciate it. But I ain’t there yet. For now, it’s just an ugly, frustrating, annoying way to spend a Sunday afternoon, and I have no confidence that it’s ever going to change.

Hopefully, this time next week, I’ll be singing a different song.