Saturday, March 26, 2011

Second loss...

The Portland Timbers have finally, that's right, finally entered the MLS. It has been a long, long road stretching back to 1975. Well before all the ignorant haters decided that, "ugh.... soccer is just so european... ughhhh."

The Timbers are an expansion team. For the soccer clueless, that means they drafted a number of players from other clubs (those who were not on the protected list) and from colleges around the country. Seems this time, though, that most inductees came from The University of Akron in Ohio. Apparently that place breeds star players. A few came along from the USL2 Timbers team of years gone before. In my opinion, said players from the prior team have a lot of work to do. Lord knows the MLS is not the star futball league of the earth. Not by any stretch of the imagination. But there is a marked level of fitness required to play in the MLS that the USL divisions simply do not have. A few of the carry-over Portland players are having a rough time adjusting to not only the fitness level, but the level of sportsmanship that goes along with professional play. I'm looking at you, Ryan Pore, who failed to even look into the eyes of the Colorado Rapids after a loss on the opening game.

The first two games have been against last year's MLS cup winner (Colorado Rapids) and one of the worst teams in the league (Toronto FC). Toronto came on the scene with a bang in 2007 but since has cycled through six different coaches to turn "the Reds" around. This year's coach is Dutch born and is bringing the Dutch of style of play to the pitch starting with a 4-3-3 formation and a 'total football' expectation. (Wikipedia that term if you're in the dark.) Still, Toronto is a team that has traditionally been a fairly easy win. Unfortunately, an expansion team like the Timbers will always have their issues to sort out. When watching their play it's painfully obvious that they still haven't 'clicked.' You can see hesitation in the feet of defenders who don't know what to expect from mids (and mids for fowards...etc) all across the field. They simply haven't played long enough (And no, pre-season is not long enough) to really find their rhythm. It's coming, though. Thankfully in the MLS you can lose about five games at the beginning of the year and still qualify for the playoffs. I love that about soccer. It's realistic. There's no 160+ games like in baseball, there's no need to get 100 points like in Basketball to lose by one basket... It's a scoring number brought back to reality. Some say it's just 90 minutes of people running around. Those people have no idea what they're talking about. It's building runs, moving into unprotected space, looking for holes and dominating when the time is right. And when it's played perfectly (see La Liga, Serie A, English Premiere League...etc) it's absolutely gorgeous what can be done with two feet and a head.

The haters are and will continue to be jealous simply because they either have no patience or just don't understand. But in the scheme of things, isn't that what all haters are?

Go Portland.

Ouch. Better luck hopefully coming Tuesday.

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