A Few Points West, 7/30 (PDX 2-2 TFC): Joao in Timberland

For the first time in a number of games, I actually got to sit down and follow along…since the friend I was house sitting didn’t have GOL TV, I followed along on the Fan 590’s online stream. Needless to say, considering the result, this is as close as wonderland as we'll get.

As usual, here's some of what I saw from this game...

1) Losing my Harden: With all the moves that we’ve made to jettison debris from our squad, two names still stick around and one of them is Ty Harden. Besides scoring one goal in a Canadian Championship match, tonight clearly proved that Harden is the weakest link in the TFC lineup. Even his line mates show zero confidence in him, but yet he lingers, a part of Mo Johnston’s ugly stain on our squad.

Do we need someone to dress up like Anne Robinson and tell him, "you ARE the weakest link, goodbye" before he disappears from our squad permanently?

2) Julian de Money-Guzzler, Useless D.P.: Oh sure, he TRIED to score. But did he? No. This is the second name that has somehow clung on in Aron Winter’s spring cleaning job so far. For a good part of three seasons this money pit has been defended, derided and yet on a Designated Player salary has achieved nothing for this club.

Tonight’s effort and the two goals by Peri Marosevic and Danny Koevermans after he was substituted shows that it’s high time Julian de Guzman is declared persona non grata in Toronto, and treated as such -- with a one way ticket out of town. In the spirit of ABC's summer show "101 Ways to Leave a Game Show"...decide on how JDG should be run out of town. Vote below!

3) Don’t Knock On That Wood, Please: I noticed a whole lot of bashing on Twitter of Portland Timbers' "mascot" Timber Joey. I ask everyone to refrain from this, as I find that their tradition to be rather unique. In a league that loves its mediocrity, Timber Joey is a unique tradition that should be encouraged, not knocked or derided.

Besides, to them Timber Joey is akin to our 24th minute tribute to Danny Dichio. Wouldn’t you be insulted if someone told you it was "gay"?

4) Don’t Stop Believing, Hold On To The Feeling: Another common theme on the Twitter feed tonight was that both the Timbers and the Reds refused to give up. This was probably one of the first full-90 efforts I’ve seen from TFC. After the Jack Jewsbury penalty, you would expect the team to fold like a cheap tent, but for once, they made the personnel changes, and were rewarded with a point.

It’s something that I would definitely like to see more of – I’m sure the long-suffering residents of Red-land would agree.

5) Go Down Gamblin’: Tonight’s result was unabashedly a full-on effort, but with a tightly packed schedule for the next week, there were some who questioned the wisdom of playing a relatively full-strength squad on the road against Portland when the league is practically a hopeless cause. While fielding a B-team squad against a fellow bottom-feeding team would have been a good idea, morale-wise it wouldn’t be quite as wise.

Losing a match before an all-important one doesn’t exactly foster confidence, and to beat Real Esteli this week away will take every shred of confidence the Reds can muster. And if the players are truly professionals, they will take this moral victory in Timberland, and use it to propel them into the CONCACAF Champions League group stage.

6) How Much Is That Joao In The Window?:
I can’t actually believe that Joao Plata is a loaned player from LDU Quito. I won’t claim to know the inner workings of the MLS Superdraft, but with the way he’s played this season, Aron Winter and his staff must do everything in their power to keep Joao from heading back to South America.

This goes the same for Richard Eckersley, who is on loan from Burnley. While he told CBC today that he hasn’t heard from the English Championship side about a recall, having Alen Stevanovic pulled back by Torino (which is probably a blessing in disguise, anyway) suddenly should be a stern warning that Plata and Eckersley’s files must be acted on post-haste.

[UPDATED 10:47am MST, 7/31] And here's a new one...

7) Stott-y refereeing: When you talk about MLS referees, very rarely do you put Kevin Stott in the same bin of awful refs with the likes of Baldomero Toledo. For all the 200+ games in charge, missing the offside on Portland's first goal, missing a handball, and giving a penalty against Andy Iro on Diego Chara...come on Kevin, you're better than this!

Overall tonight’s performance was possibly one of the best in 2011. It was a shame that Plata didn’t net a winner, but this draw will only bolster the Reds’ confidence heading into their match on Tuesday with Real Esteli. To wrap it with an oft-used cliché, "this was a draw that felt like a win".