I didn’t get the player ratings done for today. Sorry. I was griping about the fact that I wasn’t able to see the match in a timely way because it was on UniMas (Spanish for “no one’s watching), but I must also admit a degree of culpability in the whole affair. I had to drive out of town this weekend, and I didn’t bother to check MLS Live to see if the match was locked out. True, I was lulled into a false sense of security by the fact that the match was to be broadcast by Root Sports. Still, checking to see what was up would have only taken me a minute or two, although finding where UniMas was on my cable menu would have taken rather longer. In any case, I’ve seen most of the match, but not all of it. Those of you who are familiar with my output in this particular forum will know that it’s best if I see the match a couple of times, since even then I can barely be counted on to get the facts straight.
It might be a good thing to let some of the pique following the match subside a bit. I’ve been reading the message boards and there is some serious “chicken little-ing” going on there. The sky is not falling. Let’s just be clear about that, because to read what some of the freaks have to say (I won’t bother calling them out individually but you all know where to look if you want to see what I’m talking about) you’d think that the bottom had come right out of the tub. Sure, we’ve only taken two points from a possible six. For the record (and not that this should cut too much ice) we’re a point better off than we were at this point last season and (and this is the more important point) we’d already hemorrhaged five goals after the first two matches in 2013. Back then our defense was looking really shambolic and there were a lot of justified questions roiling the Timbers blogosphere as to whether any real progress had been made.
The goals that we have given up so far this season have been forgettable, but not regrettable, so to speak. They were both avoidable, in the first case if Danso or Jewsbury had marked McInerney properly, in the second if Paparatto had prevented Amerikwa from receiving the ball cleanly. You can’t really blame Paparatto for the ref buying Amerikwa’s shameless flopping as the basis for a penalty. One reads the most hair raising things about Paparatto in particular among the natterings of the unwashed. As I’ve said on numerous previous occasions, center half is the most technically and tactically demanding position on the field. Fullback might be more physically demanding, but the center half partnership is the one that requires the most skill in collective action. Paparatto is not the fastest thing on two legs, but that’s not the most crucial asset for a center half. What he’s got between his ears is rather more important. He’s still learning the ropes in this league. Overall I think that we are ahead of where we were last year, at least so far as our defense is concerned.
On offense, well, we’re creating chances. I think we’re actually getting a lot more in terms of threats to the goal than we were during preseason, which is certainly an improvement. Still, getting chances is one thing and potting them is another. I haven’t seen anything yet that would convince me that we will lack scoring in the long run. It is frustrating to watch us drop points at home against two teams that we really should have put down. That softness in and around the eighteen that Will Johnson lamented after the match with Philly is still in evidence. Still, I feel like there were periods, especially toward the end of each half, during which we cranked up our level of effort and managed to cause Chicago some real problems.
Once again we had sixty plus percent possession, so it’s just a matter of turning that into production. Easier said than done, I know, but also a world away from getting constantly rat-packed by the opposition as was the case in the pre-Porter era. We’re going to have a lot of draws again this year. A team that prioritizes possession in the way that we do always will. A draw is better than the alternative, and I think there is a lot of evidence from last season to suggest that once we get our attacking house in order we’ll be able to convert a lot of those draws to wins. Certainly we don’t want to be Pollyannas about this, but we just haven’t seen enough of the starting eleven playing together to draw any firm conclusions about how things are going.
Well, enough of that. I’m going to try to get the ratings done tonight. They might be up tomorrow, depending on what sunshine has planned and whether he wants to rejig the schedule for this week. Anyway, more news soon.