There comes a point where you just don’t know what to say. For me, that point comes after the letters required for the phrase “déjà vu” start to fade on my keyboard. After all the “Groundhog Day” metaphors are played out. After the team has lost, yet again, in uninspiring fashion on the road. So yeah, I’m there.
Sure, there are things that you could look at from Wednesday’s matinee and feel positive about if we hadn’t already been tempted by them in the past. 86% passing! 14 shots! 21 open play crosses! In light of the barren ineptitude of the Real Salt Lake and Colorado away fixtures, some might see progress in that.
But the simple reality is that Wednesday, in the only way that counts, was exactly like the rest of the Timbers’ recent road results: a loss. And a bad one, at that.
Portland’s fate was sealed in the 16th minute, when Ryan Smith undressed Steven Smith on the Goats’ right wing, sent a ball into the box that was deflected by Troy Perkins, and found Miller Bolanos sitting at the back post for an easy finish.
From there, the Timbers went on to have some control of the match. With the exception of a Pablo Cardozo 74th minute chip that will go down as one of the misses of the season, Chivas didn’t create much of anything dangerous.
Then again, neither did the Timbers. Portland repeatedly put themselves in an enviable position in the final third, but time and time again were clinically deficient.
In the 19th minute, Kosuke Kimura tried to pick Kris Boyd out in the box, but the Timbers only effective goalscorer couldn’t quite get foot to it to deflect it past Dan Kennedy.
52 minutes in, Eric Alexander – perhaps the most effective Timber on the afternoon – found Darlington Nagbe in the box, but the chronically confidenceless youngster made a mess of his header in steering it off frame.
Half an hour later, Steven Smith found his countryman in the box on a long ball forward, but Boyd couldn’t direct the over-the-shoulder ball inside the far post. Finally, perhaps mercifully, Smith sent his stoppage time effort from twenty yards wide of the far post.
The season on the field that started with ample optimism has become irretrievably lost. It has become the type of season that, when the Timbers win the league, you’ll turn to the person next to you and say “Do you remember when…?” And because we are Timbers Army, your neighbor will say “yeah, that’s what makes this feel so good.”
So, on Saturday, you’ll find me and I’ll find you doing the same thing we’ve been doing for a while now – heading to our local watering hole to watch our Timbers take on Dallas. And after that we’ll show up at Jeld-Wen Field to sing our throats raw for the team we have on the field now and in the expectancy that our day will come. Because it will. I just don’t know how and don’t know when.
Troy Perkins, 4 – It would have been a nice save, but Troy could have done better on the concession. In this rough patch the Timbers have needed a savior. While Perkins certainly hasn’t been at fault for much of anything, he hasn’t exactly been the anointed one, either.
Steven Smith, 3 – Was helpful getting forward, but his crippling mistakes in defense are becoming a habit – especially on the road. That’s not unexpected for an MLS newbie, but it curiously seems to be getting worse.
Hanyer Mosquera, 5 – Solid, if unspectacular game for Mosco. Still the Timbers’ least hypertension-inducing defender.
Futty, 4.5 – Seemed a little bit lost, and the Timbers struggled to control their box a little bit, but ultimately wasn’t culpable for anything that did damage.
Kosuke Kimura, 4 – Was lucky not to concede another penalty after he took a swing at the ball and looked to kick a Goat in the face. It may have been his best performance, however, and he may be the best crosser on the team right now.
Jack Jewsbury, 5 – Pretty neutral match from Jack. The midfield was a lot more sure-handed on Wednesday than they were against LA, but that had more to do with a swap in partners than Jack’s effort.
Diego Chara, 6 – Did the simple things simply. Looked to be a step off the pace at times, but that’s understandable considering he hasn’t played much recently. Still a massive improvement in the center of midfield.
Eric Alexander, 6 – If there is a guy on the team that has benefitted from Spencer’s sacking it’s Eric. By yanking him in and out of the lineup, it’s clear Spenny got in EA’s head. Should stay in the lineup. If he can start putting shots on frame, he could be a bright spot going forward.
Darlington Nagbe, 5 – Had a very Darlingtonesque game. Uses his body and pace to earn space better than just about anybody I’ve ever seen, but then lacks the confidence to make anything of it.
Kalif Alhassan, 4 – Really personifies the Timbers’ home-away disparity.
Kris Boyd, 5 – Can’t fault him for failing to make anything of the few chances that came his way. All would have been pretty shocking finishes.
Franck Songo’o, 5 – Franck was fine, and got himself involved fairly well. But I can’t remember the last time a Timbers sub really made a difference.
Sal Zizzo, 5 – Sal was also fine, but this move was curious. EA had been among the most effective Timbers, and the Zizzo sub seemed predetermined, not based on the course of the match at all.
Danny Mwanga, 4 – This was the right move – as Alhassan looked lost in the middle – but ultimately Mwanga didn’t make much of a difference.
Preseason Prediction: Chivas 2, Timbers 0.
Actual Result: Chivas 1, Timbers 0.
Onward, Rose City!
 Even all the complaints about how ridiculous that was are played out. This, friends, is literally the game without a storyline.
 Never mind the fact that Wednesday was Chivas’ third win at home of the season. Until then, the Goats’ home record was maybe the only home-away stat in the MLS more laughable than the Timbers’ foibles outside of Morrison Street.
 At least they’re not toying with our emotions.
 Poorly Timed Programming Note: I’m going to miss both the Villa and Chivas home matches next week. Sitting for the Bar Exam and then going to a family wedding. So, I’ll be taking a week break from match and Morrison reporting.