After my planned one day adventure into the Timbers Army, I felt that, on derby day, it would only be proper to represent the team and city that I love and sit with the regular fans. As expected, I was not antagonized, probably because it was very wet and kinda cold, so I was covered up most of the game. I found out after, from my hosts, that people were wondering where I was.
As for the game itself, the recap has already been done, but perhaps the most ominous thing was that it was essentially Portland’s starting 11 vs (what I hope isn’t) our starting 11 with Nerwinski at RB. Nothing against the kid, but if Vytas can make him look silly, then I’d hate to thin. It almost seemed as though the Caps were already looking past Portland towards their CCL QF fixture against New York at Red Bull Arena. They just seemed to be totally disinterested in playing last night’s game. Not exactly something that I came down to see, but, to me, these trips aren’t all about the games. Having missed the first game against Minnesota, and only having self-admittedly paid partial attention to the RSL, nothing from either match giving me a lot of confidence heading into the new season.
It almost seemed like they were afraid to take on Portland’s midfield trio of Chara, Valeri and Nagbe. Yeah, I wouldn’t want to try and take on Diego Chara either, but I’m not paid to play soccer.
Two notables from last night’s game: Reyna left late in the match, barely putting any weight on his left leg. Ousted seemed to be in mid-season form, you know, when not being hung out to dry by the back four.
I didn’t know what to expect before the tournament started, and I had a few dark and depressing thoughts passing through my head as the game went on. First and foremost, nothing has changed. Laba seems to be of two minds about everything, for whatever reason. I suspect that his constantly changing partner in the double-shield has something to do with it, however, because I can’t crawl inside his head, I can only speculate. In an ideal situation, the Caps would use Laba’s partner in a regista (deep lying playmaker) type role, similar to Andrea Pirlo at NYCFC. They tried Pedro last year, but he didn’t have the defensive discipline to do so. The opposite would seem to apply to Laba. He has the defensive discipline but lacks the offensive prowess that you’d like to see from a playmaker.
Is it time for a permanent formation change? People seem to be tired of the 4-2-3-1. I know I am, mostly because we lack the #9 and #10 that seems to make that formation tick. Portland often lines up in that, but given that their wingers (Nagbe and presumably Guzman) will be given the freedom to attack as they feel fit with, it almost shakes out to be a 4-2-1-3. Given their attacking options off the bench (McInerney, Mattocks, Asprilla and Arboleda), being able to play more than 1 up to grows exponentially.
Let’s take a look at what the Caps might look like in a non-traditional formation:
I believe this will give Laba some clarity on what’s expected of him without having to worry about what his partner is doing. This is quite an attacking personnel choice, however, given that I’ve allocated one of my mids to strictly defending, any more subtractions to an already questionable attack may put this team on track to score 20 goals all year
Time will definitely tell as to what we’re going to see from this team. My priorities for this team will remain consistent:
2)2017 Voyageurs Cup (qualification into the 2018 CCL)
As the rules are now, and I don’t see them changing, the 4 US Soccer spots into the CONCACAF Champions League go to MLS Cup winner, US Open Cup winner and the top finishers in each conference (Supporters Shield + top finisher in opposite conference). To American teams, that’s 4 different cracks at it, allowing those teams to theoretically pick and choose what competition to prioritize. For the 3 Canadian teams, there’s only 1 shot, called the Voyageurs Cup. Yeah, it’s only a 5 team tournament, but it is what it is. I think the much talked about Canadian Premier League needs to start establish itself (5-10 years) before talk of the Voyageurs Cup can be realistically expanded to a point where it gains legitimacy.
Yeah, the top finishers in each conference get home field advantage throughout the conference playoffs, and in case of the Shield winners, home field at MLS Cup, and lots of Garber-money, some look at is as the real prize. A shot at regional glory and a trip to the Club World Cup, and a chance to get smashed by the UEFA Champions League winner.....
That’s enough rambling for now.....