Apologies for the long silence. The dust is beginning to settle1, so I’m just going to try to get back into the routine swing of things by making a few observations…
Okay, okay. I hear your digital consensus: Pontius has been playing quite well of late. Still, every so often, I’m tempted to throw something at the screen when his ambitions outstrip his talent. Or, to put it another way: when he comes down with a virulent case of the Quaranta’s. There’s something to be said for testing your limits, but the other side of that adage coin is knowing them. Don’t get me wrong, I like players who try the audacious, and I certainly like having him on the team, but there’s this irritating niggle sometimes…It’s that same feeling I got when Dempsey went from daring to diva2.
One game for Brettschneider doesn’t really prove anything except that he deserves another chance and that those who’ve been calling for him to get minutes ahead of Ngwenya were justified in doing so. For the record, I still think Ngwenya should be jettisoned at the earliest opportunity. For the kind of wage he’s pulling ($156k), we can do better. Much better. Granted, he does have the potential to pull rabbits out of hats, but the only thing that’s been unpredictable about him this year is how far away the ball goes after his first lead-booted touch. That said, Portland’s best spell of the game Sunday coincided with Wolff coming on for Ngwenya. Still, I wouldn’t have banked on Ngwenya to finish that breakaway for 3-1, would you? $156k. Just sayin’.
Fingers crossed that Canada gets bumped early from the Gold Cup, because Jakovic was putting out all manner of fires Sunday. Sure, sure, you can point to the marginal penalty and the (soft, soft, ever so soft) free kicks given up in the second half and a largely unimpressive body of work to start the season, but lately he’s been much better. How much of that is due to a steady back four and a more conservative central midfield approach can be debated, but we’re going to miss him. Who do you put back there with White now? Kitchen? Brasesco? Burch? Pardon while I smack myself silly for making that last suggestion. Kitchen it is, with Korb going to right back in a three-out-of-four rookie back line. Gulp.
I wasn’t surprised that an Olsen-built and Olsen-led side put up a good fight on a little plastic pitch built more for scrapping than for dancing. What did surprise me was a stronger resistance to set pieces3 and the non-collapse in the wake of the PK fiasco. You know what will really surprise me? If we look as strong on a bigger, more danceable surface against more technical opposition who are not so easily bitten on the counter. Home Depot Center on Friday night? Yep, that’ll do.
So roll on Friday. Will I be able to stay awake for the whole thing? Doubtful considering I have to be up early the next morning, but I’ll certainly be dropping some form of commentary when I do watch the match in its entirety4.
Yes, that was deliberately vague. Believe me, you’re quite welcome… ↩
For the sake of completeness, I think Deuce has since backed away from that precipice somewhat, though not entirely. ↩
Still not great, but Portland are the Stoke-ian ideal of a set-piece siege engine, so with all else being relative…Does make you wonder though. Maybe the brain trust should have had us working harder on set pieces before this week given that it’s been an obvious weakness? ↩
Fingers crossed. ↩