First of all, I want to thank the Portland Timbers for their efforts in bringing Clint Dempsey from Europe to MLS, and for not being important enough to have him on their team. It was through this benevolence that has allowed the Seattle Sounders to win the last three matchups against their Cascadian rivals, the most recent being Sunday's 1-0 thriller which saw Dempsey score the game winner.
Caleb Porter, in all his infinite wisdom, deserves to shoulder a lot of the blame for Portland's listless performance, one I will be referring to as A Tale of Too Shitty. His decision to have Portland play a very passive game of possession, rotating from fullback to fullback in their own defensive third hoping to draw Seattle's midfield out of position is defensible, but it didn't work. His only adjustment prior to bringing Fanendo Adi and switching to route one tactics was to move Darlington Nagbe to the side, away from the middle where he was effective in the first half. Has he become a bad coach? He's becoming predictable, and without the dynamic Diego Valeri and his individual brilliance, Porter's Timbers simply aren't very good.
Portland sit tied for 2nd to last in the West on points with 9 through 8 matches played, solidly 9th out of 10 in the West in Points Per Game with 1.13. Granted, it's early in the 2015 season, but Porter's 2013 version of the Timbers had 1.68 PPG, 2014 - 1.44 PPG, and now 2015 has 1.13. Has Porter's coaching, once hailed at Akron and in 2013, become stale? Was 2013 a fluke where players had career years falsely attributed to Caleb Porter?
I've largely contended that Porter doesn't understand how to coach defense. Sure, in 2015 the Timbers have three shutouts in their first eight games, but that could simply be attributed to a large investment in their two centerbacks and goalkeeper. I wouldn't be shocked to see that Portland pays the most money to those three starters than any other team in the league. In his 80 MLS matches (regular season and playoffs), Porter's teams have allowed 101 goals in 80 matches. But really, after his 2013 regular season, it's 68 goals allowed in 46 games (this includes his 2013 playoffs where he allowed 8 goals in 4 games). Since the start of 2014, only five teams have allowed more goals than Portland: Colorado Rapids, Philadelphia Union, Montreal Impact, Houston Dynamo, and Toronto FC. That's some illustrious company. Where Porter is saved is that the 68 goals scored in that same timeframe is the third most in the league.
The man had success in college at Akron. The man had a successful first campaign with Portland, but since then has not accomplished much. He was also in charge of the USMNT U-23 team that missed the 2012 London Olympics. It was a U-23 team which, under Porter, lost to Canada. But what surprises me the most is that he has this air of superiority, of invincibility. He conveys that he is beyond criticism. Look at his quote regarding his decision to start Urruti over Adi, the latter of which had a much more productive match after being subbed on in the 74th minute, "You make decisions every game, right? That's one of them." Were I a Portland Timbers fan, this type of attitude would not sit well with me. You just lost to your biggest rivals and the only time your team possessed anything resembling a threatening offense all night was after you substituting in your best striker, who you decided to sit, and after the game someone questions that decision and that's your response? How many coaches could get away with that?
He seemingly never takes responsibility when the Timbers don't perform well, often stating they were the better team. In response to Sunday's game, he said the following lines, "It was an even game," and, "We had four clear chances in the second half and ours didn't fall then Dempsey finds the goal," also, "They didn't have many clear chances and we had the better of the chances in the second half, but we leave empty-handed." Though the expected goal map clearly shows Seattle should've scored 1.6 goals while Portland should've scored 0.5 themselves. So Porter either doesn't know how to analyze performances, or he's willfully saying things that make his team not sound as bad as they actively seem.
Were I a fan of the Timbers, I'd even put into question if it were possible that Porter devalues the Seattle-Portland rivalry. While he might've been playing a first choice XI (debatable), here are the starters for Portland in Sunday's match that played last time they beat Seattle: Jack Jewsbury, Diego Chara, Darlington Nagbe, and Maximiliano Urruti (who came in as a late game sub in the 2013 playoffs). That means seven of the eleven starters for Portland now have only tasted defeated from the hand of the Sounders. It's a culture of inferiority that's been conditioned.
Perhaps it might be best for us to temper our Caleb Porter hate. It seems Porter and Timbers owner Merritt Paulson were made for each other, and we look at any bump in the road along Porter's path as confirmation bias. Surely it'd take something drastic for Porter's position to be in jeopardy, something like routinely angering opposing team's coaches, falling short of expectations, giving up four goals at home to your bitter rivals, or being unnecessarily defiant to media who questions your questionable decisions. Who knows, maybe time will tell.
And thus ends my rant on Caleb Porter: A Tale of Too Shitty.
Notes and shit
- Two of Portland's touted offseason signings played a large part in allowing Seattle's only goal: Nat Borchers botching his defense of Dylan Remick's throw-in, and Adam Kwarasey fumbling the resultant shot from Andy Rose.
- For those of you who weren't aware, Alexi Lalas is a contrarian instigator.
- Brad Evans is a high-quality MLS centerback. Those idiot fans sitting nearby who constantly rag on him don't know what they're talking about.
- The Sounders are on the same pace as last season, 13 points through 7 games, though this time Osvaldo Alonso hasn't even played in half of the games yet.
- For those who didn't watch the game on FS1 (lucky), the broadcast was subtly Portland-centric. This shouldn't surprise you considering it was Lalas and former Timbers play-by-play Strong on the call.
- The Dr. Pulaski character in season two of Star Trek: TNG always bugged me to no end, and why they decided to have so many episodes where she was in the limelight really always bothered me.
- It looks like the East is the strong favorite to have the Supporters Shield winner, what with half of the teams being at or below 1.00 PPG. Were the Sounders in the East, we might be looking at MLS's first 100 point season.
- I wonder if Timbers fans, players, and coaches have dreams that are haunted by Zach Scott.
- How many goalies in MLS are better than Stefan Frei right now?
- Dempsey does the kind of goal celebrations you accidentally do while playing FIFA and thinking, "What the...? Nobody actually does those."
Gifs and shit
Time for another edition of why Seattle is better than Portland.
Timbers aren't gonna come into our house and get what they want.
Look, Nagbe fell down again.
Thanks for making this a super exciting and riveting game, Timbers.
Oh you're giving cards to Alonso but not to Chara?
Well whaddya know, the Flounders scored.
I'm curious how this Adi sub is going to go for Portland.
Portland looks pretty inept with all this wild shooting.
Adi almost did something, but then he didn't.
Frei almost gave it away at the end there.
Seattle wins again, proving once and for all that we're the better team.
Nice coaching, Porter, you dumb idiot.
Oh, and Sounders. You're so goddamn cool.
Good job though, Timbers, at least you failed as a team.
Now it's time for all you Portland folk to go home.