The Morrison Report – Crystal Log Edition

The 2013 regular season is here.  Which means, as is tradition here at The Morrison Report,[1] its time to gaze into the crystal log and divulge what it reveals about all 34 of the Timbers’ League games.

If you want a good chuckle, look back at my 2012 predictions.  Turns out crystal logs aren’t infallible, either.

As I’ve visited it periodically over the last week, it has shown me many divergent futures for 2013.  The crystal log itself appears unsure whether the new attack is special or specious.  It doesn’t quite know what to make of the team’s defensive foibles; are they a fatal flaw or merely a passing matter of preseason injuries?

Nonetheless, as I spent many long hours gazing into its misty revelations, one future emerged as that of this year’s Timbers.  It is a future of drama and disappointment.  Of feat and frustration.  Of hardship and hope.

In the end, the likeliest future does not hold the playoffs for the Timbers.  Although nothing is certain, the crystal log has made clear it thinks the concessions will be a few too many.  But it does envision leaving 2013 with a renewed sense that the team is close – perhaps one or two pieces – away from not only contending for the playoffs, but contending for trophies.  As such, the crystal log envisions a 2013 that will be a success, if, perhaps, one that requires patience.

3/3/13 v. New York Red Bulls
Timbers 2, Red Bulls 2.  The Timbers go up early, as Diego Valeri opens the scoring by flicking home Ryan Johnson’s cross. New York pulls level and goes ahead thanks to goals form Fabian Espindola and Thierry Henry on each side of halftime. The Timbers secure the draw, however, when Will Johnson’s strike from 25 yards finds the top corner.

3/9/13 v. Montreal Impact
Timbers 2, Impact 1.  Montreal’s Marco Di Vaio steals one early, but Montreal is quickly overrun by Portland’s midfield and the traffic largely flows one way.  Portland pulls even in the 35th minute after Ryan Johnson slots home a Diego Valeri assist, but the story is Darlington Nagbe’s 53rd minute put back.  Montreal is fortunate to even make that scoreline hold, as Troy Perkins is peppered late under the North End.

3/16/13 @ Seattle Sounders
Sounders 3, Timbers 1.  The enthusiasm from the opening homestand fades quickly, as Seattle jumps all over Portland with two quick ones.  The Timbers, by way of Kalif Alhassan, pull one back in the 64th minute, but two minutes later David Estrada ends any hope of a comeback.

3/30/13 @ Colorado Rapids
Rapids 1, Timbers 1.  Portland earns its first road point, and controls much of the game in Colorado, as Ryan Johnson nets his second goal of the season on the break.  Portland holds the ball in the midfield for substantial portions, but a rare strike from distance from Hendry Thomas forces the draw.

4/6/13 v. Houston Dynamo
Dynamo 2, Timbers 0.  In a game that exposes how Caleb Porter’s system can go very wrong once in a while, the Timbers can’t finish a litany of chances.  Brad Davis’s sweet left foot finds Will Bruin twice against the run of play, and the Timbers leave wondering how they can look so good and be beat so badly.

4/14/13 v. San Jose Earthquakes
Timbers 1, Quakes 1.  San Jose knows what to expect against the Timbers at Jeld-Wen and floods the midfield in what becomes a borderline unwatchable match.  Wondolowski buries an early-second half penalty to put the Quakes up a goal, but the Timbers again don’t waste time pulling it back when Diego Valeri bends a free kick into the near upper corner.

4/21/13 @ San Jose Earthquakes
Quakes 3, Timbers 0.  The Quakes break through and do what they haven’t been able to in the Timbers’ MLS history – get three points against Portland.  And this one isn’t close, as the Timbers’ ugly effort leaves Caleb Porter simmering and supporters fearing another spring collapse.

4/27/13 @ Sporting Kansas City
SKC 2, Timbers 1.  The Timbers are officially in a slump, as they have two points from their last six after a strong homestand to start. Nagbe’s second goal of the season is largely academic as Claudio Bieler and C.J. Sapong put things away after a better, but still inadequate, road performance from the Timbers.

5/2/13 v. New England Revolution
Timbers 3, Revs 0.  Nothing remedies a bad slump like a visit from the Revolution.  Still struggling to rediscover competitiveness, the Revs come into Portland unprepared for the Timbers midfield flood and get punished as a result. Ryan Johnson bags two before halftime, and Diego Chara (!) adds a third for fun, as New England is never competitive.

5/8/13 @ FC Dallas
FCD 1,Timbers 0.  A rough start to the season for Dallas doesn’t help the Timbers overcome their own lethargy in a stadium that’s seen the two biggest embarrassments in Timbers’ MLS history.

5/12/13 v. Chivas USA
Timbers 2, Chivas 0.  The whispers around the League are about whether Chelis will survive the season, as the Goats have gotten off to a disastrous start.  The whispers around Jeld-Wen Field, however, are about Diego Valeri, who notches a goal and a set piece assist to Mikael Silvestre in the Timbers’ easy win.

5/18/13 @ Vancouver Whitecaps
Whitecaps 2, Timbers 2.  The game of the season so far.  The Caps go up in the 33rd minute when Young-Pyo Lee bends one in from 25 out.  The Timbers draw level in the 64th minute, however, when Jay DeMerit takes down Ryan Johnson in the box and Valeri converts the penalty.  Vancouver nets the apparent winner in the 83rd when Darren Mattocks volleys home in a manner eerily reminiscent of 2012 in Portland. The Timbers, however, claw back in second half stoppage, when Jack Jewsbury picks up a loose ball at the top of the box and fires into the upper corner.

5/25/13 @ D.C. United
D.C. United 2, Timbers 0.  First half goals from Daniel Woolard and Chris Pontius put D.C. irretrievably out in front.  After a lethargic first half, the Timbers dominate much of the second, but can’t break through a packed-in United defense to get back in the game.

6/8/13 @ Chicago Fire
Timbers 2, Fire 1.  Toyota Field is hospitable for the Timbers again. After Ryan Johnson opens the scoring in the 17th minute, Darlington Nagbe doubles the lead in the 39th with a magnificent crack from distance. The Fire try to make up the deficit in the second half, but can’t see enough of the ball to make much of a dent.  Patrick Nyarko pulls one back in the 87th minute to briefly put a jolt of energy into Section 8, but the equalizer is nowhere to be found.

6/15/13 v. FC Dallas
Timbers 1, FCD 0.  In a mirror image of the game in Dallas, the Timbers squeak out a 1-0 win over FCD after the Hoops flood the midfield trying to counter the Timbers’ centrally based attack.  After the nip-tuck first half sends the Jeld-Wen crowd into a nervous halftime, Diego Valeri eases the tension with a beautiful 54th minute bending free kick.

6/19/13 @ L.A. Galaxy
Galaxy 2, Timbers 0.  The Timbers have never won at the Home Depot Center, and that trend continues.  Mike Magee burns the Timbers on the edge in the 37th minute to open the scoring, but after some strong Timbers play, the dagger comes in the 74th as Juninho hits one from distance.

6/23/13 v. Colorado Rapids
Timbers 1, Colorado 1.  Will Johnson gets the Timbers on the board early, as he puts back a Matt Pickens save of Ryan Johnson, but Atiba Harris pulls Colorado back level before halftime.  The second half sees a tired Timbers team struggle to threaten to find a winner.

At the halfway point, the Timbers sit on 20 points, just outside the Western Conference playoff picture.

7/7/13 @ Columbus Crew
Timbers 2, Crew 1.  The Timbers win their second road match in three tries, as Ryan Johnson beats an offside trap and slots past Any Gruenebaum in the 43rd minute.  The Crew’s Dominic Oduro outpaces the Timbers backline on a break to equalize just after halftime, but second half substitute Jose Valencia strikes the game winner for the Timbers.

7/13/13 v. Los Angeles Galaxy
Timbers 1, Galaxy 0.  In a surprisingly defensive match, the difference is David Horst’s 55th minute header off of a Will Johnson corner kick.  The Galaxy knock on the door several times, but can’t find the final touch to equalize.

7/20/13 @ Philadelphia Union
Union 2, Timbers 0.  Newly confident on the road, the Timbers come to Philadelphia looking to put themselves in the thick of the playoff picture with a win in Philly.  Instead, they fall silently to a mediocre Union team.

7/27/13 @ San Jose Earthquakes
Quakes 1, Timbers 0.  The Timbers have suddenly lost their offensive mojo, as for a second straight game they can’t find the back of the net.  The Quakes do as they always do, and steal a level game in the 81st minute by way of a Ramiro Corrales rebound.

8/3/13 v. Vancouver Whitecaps
Timbers 2, Whitecaps 1.  Vancouver draws first blood as Donovan Ricketts bobbles a stoppable Kenny Miller strike.  From there, though, it’s all Timbers as Kalif Alhassan – making a heretofore rare August appearance – makes Alain Rochat look silly, chalking up a goal and an assist to Ryan Johnson in a relatively comfortable Cascadia victory.

8/17/13 v. FC Dallas
Timbers 1, Dallas 1.  The Timbers show some early rust after a week off, and Dallas makes them pay for it after Kenny Cooper nods in a David Ferriera cross in the 22nd minute.  The Timbers push hard, but can’t find the equalizer until Ryan Miller strikes a fluke deflection from distance in the 73rd.

8/21/13 v. Real Salt Lake
RSL 2, Timbers 1.  After a rough start to the season, Jason Kreis’s team has come together in the summer.  Two first half goals put the Timbers in a big hole.  Diego Valeri’s strike from the top of the box brings Portland back into the game in the 66th minute, but Portland can’t find the equalizer and fall to RSL at home for the second season in a row.

8/25/13 @ Seattle Sounders
Sounders 1, Timbers 0.  Having left points on the table in two home matches in a row, the Timbers head to Seattle increasingly desperate for points to stay in the playoff race.  They think they’ve taken the lead 31 minutes in, but Ryan Johnson’s strike is negated by offside.  Ozzie Alonso capitalizes on the Timbers disappointment three minutes later by blasting a strike from 30.  The Timbers control much of the rest of the match, but can’t scratch out the draw.

8/30/13 @ Real Salt Lake
RSL 3, Timbers 2.  The Timbers are heartbroken in a wild one.  They take the lead in the 28th minute after Darlington Nagbe makes one of his signature runs through the middle, and finds Johnson in the box to tap home.  RSL come back, and eventually take the lead in the 64th minute, when Robbie Findley gets through on the break and slots past Ricketts.  Portland have one more trick of their own, however, when Kalif Alhassan dances by several defenders and feeds Valeri for the volley into the net.  It isn’t to be for Portland, however, as RSL late-game substitute, Joao Plata, shows one of his dazzling runs past a tired Timbers’ defense and scores in second half stoppage time.

9/7/13 v. Toronto FC
Timbers 3, TFC 0.  After a rough two weeks in which the Timbers put their playoff hopes on the rocks, Portland takes out its frustrations on a hapless TFC team.  Ryan Johnson, Michael Harrington, and Frederic Piquionne all get in on the action in as lopsided a rout as Jeld-Wend Field as seen since the USL days.

9/14/13 @ Chivas USA
Timbers 1, Chivas 1.  The Timbers need points in a big way, and for most of seventy minutes it looks like they’re going to get them.  After Portland christened the game with a goal in the 6th minute by Diego Valeri, Chivas finds a moment of magic against the run in the 73rd, as Miller Bolanos bends a pretty ball into the corner.

9/20/13 v. Colorado Rapids
Timbers 0, Rapids 0.  Days like this happen, and it couldn’t have happened at a worse time for the Timbers.  A game long on possession, but short on serious chances, leaves the Timbers Army with an empty feeling and the Timbers looking at the schedule for desperately needed points.

9/29/13 v. L.A. Galaxy
Timbers 1, Galaxy 1.  For the third game in a row, the Timbers team looking for maximum points can’t get them.  Omar Gonzalez nods in a Galaxy corner in the 52nd minute to give the Galaxy the momentary lead, but Jose Valencia pulls things level in the 63rd.  The Timbers push for the equalizer, but can’t find the crucial three points.

10/6/13 @ Vancouver Whitecaps
Whitecaps 2, Timbers 0.  Unlike previous late-season trips to the Great White North, the Timbers have all kinds of trouble against the ‘Caps.  Nigel Reo-Coker starts the scoring with a quick combo with Darren Mattocks, but Gershon Koffie puts it away with a strike from the top of the box in the 72nd minute.

10/13/13 v. Seattle Sounders
Timbers 2, Sounders 0.  The Timbers return to Jeld-Wen Field desperately needing a result and, for the first time in more than a month, don’t leave it on the field.  The Timbers midfield dominates Seattle, keeping possession and knifing through the defense virtually at will.  The Timbers’ two goals come in the first half by way of a Diego Valeri penalty and a Ryan Johnson header from beautiful service from Will Johnson.

10/19/13 v. Real Salt Lake
Timbers 1, RSL 0.  Needing another three points, the Timbers scratch out a win against RSL.  The first half comes and goes with two nervous teams missing a couple chances to gain control.  Portland finally seizes the moment as Ryan Johnson – whose first year with the Timbers has been a tremendous success – takes a feed from Valeri to keep the Timbers’ playoff hopes alive.

10/26/13 @ Chivas USA
Timbers 1, Chivas 1.  The Timbers need three points to be in the playoffs.  They don’t get them.  Juan Agudelo opens the scoring in the 23rd minute by tapping an Osvaldo Minda rebound home, but Portland bounces back in the 64th when Will Johnson wills the team back into the hunt with a strike from 25 yards.  The Timbers push hard for the winner and their ticket to the playoffs, but desperate defending by Chivas sends Portland home disappointed.

The Timbers finish 2013 with 43 points – one off the playoff pace of 44.  Their 37 goals and 41 concessions mark a slight improvement in goals-for, and a significant improvement in the Timbers’ disastrous 2012 goals against.

In the end, such a season would be a big step in the right direction for Portland.  From the depths of the table to just missing out on the playoffs would be good progress for the Timbers in year one of the Porter Era.  Nonetheless, going down to the wire in the playoff race and just missing out – as the Timbers did in 2011 – always stings.

Hopefully this time, however, it will sting enough to push the club to greater heights.

Onward, Rose City!

[1] One year makes a tradition, right?

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