Stream of Consciousness: FC Dallas-Portland
It hurt enough watching this team without Kenny Cooper. Watching him against us is ten times worse.
Coop seems like he's extra worked up for this game; he's already tried to take a chunk out of Ugo Ihemelu and Brek Shea. Not dirty play, but kind of hyperactive, going-in-too-hard-because-he's-going too-fast kind of stuff. It must be a day of mixed emotions for the kid. I imagine he will get a very warm reception when he comes to Pizza Hut Park later on. I can't imagine otherwise.
Jel-Wen stadium is packed and loud. Nice. If you're new to American soccer, you have to realize that though Portland is an expansion team in terms of MLS, the Timbers have been a presence in the game, off and on, since the early 70's. So, it is no oxymoron to speak of the tradition of Timbers soccer.
Welllll. I'm not too surprised to see it is Jack Jewsbury who gets on the scoreboard first for Portland. I'm a bit surprised to see Portland score first, mind you, because FCD is off to a pretty good start. Jewsbury, I think, will end up being an even more important acquisition than Kenny Cooper for Portland. He's been around a long time, scored lots of important goals for Kansas City, is a natural leader, and does not know the meaning of quit. I've always liked the guy. He has been the mainstay of most all of my MFLS teams ever since his breakout year of 2004. Of course, they were all losing MFLS teams, but that's hardly Jack's fault.
The goal itself, however, was a bit lucky. Jewsbury hit it well, but actually bounced it off the near post, and off of Kevin Hartman's backside. There's a joke in there about pulling something out of somewhere, but I'm just going to let it go.
The atmosphere created by the Timbers fans is somewhat reminiscent of an English Premier League game. I love seeing that, but can't quite get myself to agree with Bobby Rhine and Steve Jolley that this amounts to a “12th man.” It may give a little boost to the home team, sure, but it's not going to affect FC Dallas, or any other professional team, the least little bit. All of these guys have played in front of crowds, okay? A little noise is never going to make them play any worse. It makes for good talking points, however, which is good for guys in the booth.
Despite the early goal, I still like the Loyd-Ihemelu-John-Shea back four. I believe Sensei has instructed young Brek to get forward at will, which seems to suit him just fine. He's going to give right backs fits throughout this season with his speed, skill, and desire to score. I don't know much about soccer, but I feel pretty secure about that prognostication.
Dangit. I think I jinxed them. Kenny Cooper scores from a header to make it 2-0. He beat Ugo in the air and put it just over Kevin's fingertips. If I was nothing more than a bitter homer who never gives the other team credit, I might point out that Kenny fouled Ugo to get that open look.
But I'm not. So I won't.
Now, I may not have the details just exactly right, but apparently a guy named Timber Joey cuts down an old-growth tree, kills the endangered owls living therein, and starts a forest fire which he uses to fry up the owl carcasses, every time Portland scores a goal.
Or something like that.
Anyway. FCD down 2-0 at halftime, but didn't play badly at all. Funny old game, innit?
Second half, and I almost just said one of those words we're not supposed to say in school. Only a (brilliant, inspired) offside call kept Portland from making it 3-0 within the first two minutes of the half. That, as the young people say, woulda stunk
I want to backtrack a little about what I said regarding Brek at left back. There is one sense in which I die a little every time I see him back there. That has to do with the sad fact that America produces so few of that devil-may-care, Didier Drogba/Wayne Rooney-esque, “I'll try anything and I have the skill to pull it off”, natural goal scoring type of players. Brek has the temperament to be one of those guys, and most of the skill (though still developing, to be sure). Now, we've stuck him in the back. That part, I hate. But I'm also enough of a pragmatist (at least when it comes to FC Dallas), that I'll accept whatever Sensei comes up with, as long as it works.
Well, now it is 3-0, in the 56th minute, and this time the defense as a unit is at fault. And, I might add, FCD is sunk. I'll be happy to eat those words if the Red Stripes should make an amazing comeback, but my pessimistic nature has gone in to overdrive, and I do believe, sad as it makes me to say it, that FCD is sunk. At least for this week. I don't mean to make any predictions about the season as a whole, of course. I'm not that glass-half-empty of a person.
All you can ask for at this point is that the boys have enough fuego to not give up, to make a game out of it, to not roll over and die. Win or lose, if you have the fuego, you have life. And, you have to say, the fuego was one of the things Sensei brought with him when he came to Pizza Hut Park, that took the franchise from underachievers to Western Conference champs.
Oh, and Portland? Portland have the fuego. If they played in front of a crowd of 20 people, all of whom had taken a monastic vow of silence, this team would have the fuego, or Spencer'd kill them.
Thirteen minutes left, and Portland looks like the only team interested in pushing the action. Ugh. What time does “Game of Thrones” come on?
So, let's see if I have this straight – Eddie Johnson, the Englishman, is playing in the United States, while Eddie Johnson, the American, is playing in England? Okay. Seems a shade inefficient, but that's none of my business. Whatever works, I guess.
HEY! FCD pulled one back! Brek Shea, streaking up the left side, puts a diagonal ball into the box for David Ferreira, who beats the defender to stretch a toe out and put it past Gleeson. Two goals down, six minutes to go. No problem, right?
OHHHHHHHHHHHH! DIPSY SELELOWANE FCD has scored again! Guess who? Brek Shea! One goal down, five minutes to play! Fuego, much?
This time, David loops a ball into the middle of the penalty area, and Brek Shea gets underneath it and pops it over Gleeson. Yeah, baby.
Injury time, and Kevin Hartman is going all NHL and leaving the net empty on a corner.
OH! Ferreira off the crossbar! Agh!
Full Time. Wow. Not a win, or even a draw, but a fine display of guts and fuego. I'm pretty happy with that. Gotta catch my breath.
See you next week for Vancouver.
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