This game in no way felt like a 3-0 game. For either team. A 0-0 final score would have been more indicative of the game than 3-0. A fluke goal off Clark’s arm, then a weird Mabiala mistake, then we were pushing so hard to catch up that we were wide open in the back. It might sound like sour grapes, but this game felt less like Seattle beating us and more like the soccer gods just wanting to be dicks.
1) The best goal of the night was the first goal. The one that didn’t count.
Helluva goal, right? Helluva way for right back Chris Duvall to open his Timbers account, right? Except, no. The VAR decided Eryk Williamson was offside.
Remember the Philadelphia game we won in Orlando? Remember how they scored a goal late in the game which was called offside? Here’s what I wrote about that.
This is the exact same situation. There is nothing about that replay that was “clear and obvious.” Now, granted, maybe the ref saw a camera angle that we didn’t, but since they’ve stopped letting us in on his conversation with the VAR (which they did in the MiB Tournament and which everyone loved), I can’t say for sure. But from the one replay we did see? From this one camera angle? Not clear. Not obvious. Goal or no goal, whatever the on-field call was, it should have stood.
Up 1-0 in the 5th minute? Imagine how the game would have played out from there.
2) But it wasn’t 1-0, it was 0-0, and for much of the game, things played out like a stalemate. We’d have periods on the front foot, then periods on our heels. We’d dominate for awhile, then Seattle would dominate for awhile.
I will admit to finding myself a little annoyed at times with Portland’s attack, particularly in the first half. I saw too many hopeful crosses to no one and not enough brave combinations in the box. But of course, some of that was our fault and some of it was Seattle’s defense doing a good job on us.
There were a few nice moments, though. A few close calls. In first half stoppage time, Diego Valeri had a miss he might lose sleep over.
And in the second half, there was a flurry of chances, culminating in this Marvin Loria smash.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t turn any of our chances into goals, so it was still 0-0 in the 72nd minute...
3) … at which point Raul Ruidiaz did this.
I’m gonna borrow from billiards and call this a two-cushion shot. Off the crossbar, off Steve Clark’s elbow, and into the side pocket. The official scorer’s calling this a Ruidiaz goal, but if you ask me, it’s an own goal. I mean, if Clark’s elbow isn’t there, the ball’s bouncing toward the penalty spot. Clark’s elbow is the reason it went into goal, and isn’t that kind of the definition of an own goal?
Anyway, all our good chances had amounted to nothing, but Ruidiaz’s ridiculous bit of luck put Seattle up 1-0. Soccer truly is the cruelest of sports.
4) What happens when you’re suddenly down 1-0 in the 72nd minute? You push forward, desperate for a goal.
And what happens when you push forward, desperate for a goal? Your defense opens up and you’re susceptible to fast break counterattacks.
Fast break counterattacks like this...
… and like this.
And that’s how a game that really could have ended 0-0 turns into a 3-0 blowout.
Like I said at the start, this might feel like sour grapes. Yes, we lost. I’m not arguing that. What I’m arguing is that it didn’t feel like a complete and total ass-kicking. It felt like a game where we could’ve been up 1-0 at multiple times. It felt like a game where the soccer gods decided to remind us that, yes, they’re still assholes. It felt like a game where we got stretched out at the end and, a few weird bounces later, it’s 3-0.
Does it suck? Hell yes. Does it feel like the Timbers are broken? No. Weird losses happen. This was a weird loss. Let’s put it behind us and move on.
5) Some random thoughts.
- Check out what Sebastian Blanco did with this Larrys Mabiala moon shot in the 75th minute.
- That first touch is so good, it’s practically pornographic. I can’t believe they’re allowed to show that on television.
- Wondering why Dario Zuparic wasn’t available Sunday night? Because he went to Los Angeles last week and is now in self-isolation.
- Why did Zoop go to LA? Did the team know about it? Is he in serious trouble for going AWOL? Is this the kind of thing we should expect from him moving forward? As you can probably tell from all the question marks, I have no idea. I am curious, though. I’d love it if there was some kind of official announcement on the matter. The closest we’ve gotten is this tweet from Merritt Paulson. It’s not quite an explanation, but it’s something.
He will be back Wednesday— Merritt Paulson (@MerrittPaulson) August 24, 2020
- And, yes, I did just call Zuparic “Zoop.” Seems like a decent nickname. I’m hoping it sticks.
- As you probably know, the fake crowd noise we heard Sunday night at Providence Park was different from the fake crowd noise we sometimes heard in Orlando. This fake crowd noise could actually be heard by the players on the field because it was coming out of the stadium’s PA speakers. Personally, I preferred it. One, I like that the players asked for it, and two, I liked how I could hear drums and booing, and, occasionally, Timbers Army songs. My only complaint? No profanity. Where was “put Vancouver in the middle and burn the fucking lot?” Where was “fuck ‘em all, fuck ‘em all, Seattle, Vancouver, Montreal?” And after Chris Duvall’s golazo got overturned in the 5th minute, where was “Oh referee, oh referee, take another bong hit?”
- I have a small rant. It’s for all #YouPeople down in the comments who call Jeremy Ebobisse “Ebo.” His nickname is Jebo. It’s pronounced JAY-bo. How do I know this? Because pretty much anytime there’s an interview with one of his teammates or his coaches or even the owner of the goddamn team, they refer to him as Jebo. And yet, the Ebo thing still continues. It’s even found its way onto this stupid t-shirt, which I have to assume is a reference to his twitter handle, @KingJebo, only wrong.
- It’s Jebo, people. If you’re calling him Ebo just to piss me off, congratulations. It worked. Now cut it out.
- Before Sunday’s game, they played a clip of Seattle coach Brian Schmetzer on Seattle sports radio saying, “You know what? Blank Portland!” I cannot tell you how much I love this. More coaches should say stuff like that. Sports hate is the best hate and if I were Gio Savarese, I’d double down. I’d try to outdo Schmetzer. I’d be like, “I’ll be honest, Jake, Seattle’s the fuckin’ worst. I legitimately hate those assholes. They’re bad at soccer, they’ve got poor personal hygiene, and they can barely even dress themselves. You know what I saw Jordan Morris do the last time he was here? He kicked a puppy. A puppy, Jake! And Nicolas Lodeiro just stood there laughing! What kind of monsters are these? So, yeah, I’d say we’re motivated for this weekend’s game.”
- Actually, can we just go ahead and call that previous paragraph my application to be the Timbers official spokesman? Hit me up, Merritt. Every press conference could be like that. We’d be the lead story on SportsCenter every single night.
6) Fortunately or unfortunately, there’s no time to dwell on the Seattle loss because we’ve got two more games this week, and not a lot of time to get ready for them.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that the best way to have a three-game week is Saturday-Wednesday-Sunday. That way you’ll have three days off between each game. It’s not great, but it’s doable.
The worst three-game week? Sunday-Wednesday-Saturday, with at least one of them a road game. And that’s exactly what the Timbers are doing this week. Seattle on Sunday, two days off, San Jose on Wednesday, two days off, then RSL on Saturday. That’s a brutal week.
But wait, it’s worse. Based on what MLS said regarding COVID-19 protocols, I think the Timbers may be flying down to San Jose Wednesday morning, playing their game, then flying back Wednesday night.
If this is true, then my decision is made. Play the B team. Play an entirely different Starting XI than we saw against Seattle. Here’s one possible lineup.
Bonilla – Cascante – Zuparic – Farfan
Paredes – Zambrano
Polo – Conechny – Mora
My second suggestion: don’t make any of our old guys fly down there just to come off the bench. If I’m Gio, nobody over the age of 30 is getting on that airplane. No Valeri, Blanco, Chara, Mabiala, Villafana, or Clark. Let them stay at home, rest their bones, and be ready for RSL on Saturday.
If there was ever a time to lean on your depth, it’s now, during a worldwide pandemic.