Soccer Odds Comparison, Soccer Betting Odds & Lines

-=$【##[email protected]##】[email protected] vs Jets Live Stream Week-8 Nfl Games 2018 On Reddit.

New York Jets New England Patriots live score (and video online live stream*) starts on 25.11.2018. at 18:00 UTC time in NFL, Regular Season - USA. Here on SofaScore livescore you can find all New York Jets vs New England Patriots previous results sorted by their H2H matches. Links to New York Jets vs. New England Patriots video highlights are collected in the Media tab for the most popular matches as soon as video appear on video hosting sites like Youtube or Dailymotion.
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##【@【Live-=NFL】@】 Lions vs Rams Live Stream 02 Nov 2018

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[email protected]) Bears vs Giants Live Stream Official-rEdDiT-)

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Any football (soccer for Americans) looking to bet on the FA cup there are amazing odds on Villa and Norwich to bear teams in leagues below them. Not a sure thing but odds are way to high to pass up

Any football (soccer for Americans) looking to bet on the FA cup there are amazing odds on Villa and Norwich to bear teams in leagues below them. Not a sure thing but odds are way to high to pass up submitted by Guymacgregor98 to sportsbetting [link] [comments]

Bet on Soccer - Bet on Soccer in American Odds/ European Odds

submitted by betxpert123 to BestBettingTips [link] [comments]

I've just released my bet tracker with a lot of features

Hi SoccerBetting.
trackbets.io - link 2
I posted on this sub a week ago and got good feedback on the website. Now I've listened to all the comments and added a lot more features.

Main features;
- Autocomplete on events (we have almost all fixtures for every team in the entire world)
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And much more.

If you have your bets in a spreadsheet, we can import them for you! Just DM us.
I'm appreciating all feedback, if it's anything you miss, tell me and I'll add it.

N.B: Right now we're having a giveaway on €300 on our Twitter
submitted by ReactiioN to SoccerBetting [link] [comments]

[OC] What if every world cup team had the same population? - Group C

Hello again all, trying to distract myself from the fact that it’s already May, I’ve put my matching Friday pants and socks set on to bring you another edition of the alternative World Cup. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the premise of this series why not indulge yourself in the last two groups.
Group A, Group B
Whilst yesterday featured a group with sprinkles of quality throughout, I’m afraid to say this gathering is a little one-sided. One African team dwarfs three squads of an Asian persuasion, so with more utopian island spots than full time pro’s on display, I’ll try my utmost not to drift into a Thomas Cook holiday blog, no promises though.
Group C
West Africa
Togo, Ghana, Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Guinnea Bissau, Senegal, The Gambia, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Western Sahara, Algeria, Morrocco
Population (millions): 240.19
When it comes to brainchildren it’s strongly advised not to have favourites, but between you and me this is the funnest squad of the lot.
Similarly to Eastern Europe, West Africa has often been a hive of sporting talent restrained by the labyrinth of borders within its confines. George Weah, Emmanuel Adebayor, Yaya Toure, Didier Drogba and Abedi Pele are some notable stars of the past, but the conveyor belt of sporadic world-class attacking talent over the last 30 years appears to have crescendoed into a full blown production line of stars in every outfield position.
Something that my hypothesis can’t fairly simulate is what affect an open plan Africa would have on the decision making of some of our games Euro-Africano elite. N’Golo Kante is of Malean descent whilst fellow Parisian Paul Pogba boasts his Guinean parentage. It would be a safe bet to assume at least some juggling would take place with the region's newfound affluence, but until I am able to read the minds of millionaire athletes I’m not going to touch the subject with a barge pole, besides I think I’d go for the sort codes well before I look at their national preference.
What we DO have however is a terrific squad on paper that will continue to improve as the years continue, with 17 year old Barcelona wunderkind Ansu Fati hailing from Guinea-Bissau, as long as he doesn’t succumb to a Spanish inquisition.
Goalkeepers Birthplace FM20 Value Age
Edouard Mendy SEN Rennes GK Montivilliers, France 65 €4.40 28
Yassine Bounou MAR Sevilla GK Montreal, Canada 68 €10.00 29
Defenders
Faouzi Ghoulam ALG Napoli LB Saint-Priest, France 72 €17.10 29
Dakonam Djene TOG Getafe CB Dapaong 74 €26.80 28
Kalidou Koulibaly SEN Napoli CB Saint-Die, France 84 €64.30 28
Achraf Hakimi MAR B. Dortmund RWB Madrid, Spain 72 €23.30 21
Eric Bailly CIV Man United CB Bingerville 72 €31.40 26
Salif Sane SEN Schalke 04 CB Lormont, France 69 €9.00 29
Serge Aurier CIV Tottenham RB Ouragahio 70 €19.90 27
Kwadwo Asamoah GHA Inter Milan LWB Accra 74 €21.10 31
Midfielders
Riyad Mahrez ALG Man City RW Sarcelles, France 77 €62.00 29
Hakim Ziyech MAR Ajax CAM Dronten, Netherlands 79 €42.80 27
Thomas Partey GHA Atleti CDM Krobo Odumase 76 €33.40 26
Naby Keita GUI Liverpool CM Conakry 78 €52.20 25
Ismaila Sarr SEN Watford RW Saint-Louis 67 €22.20 22
Pepe CIV Arsenal RW Mantes-la-Jolie, France 76 €45.60 24
Idrissa Gana Gueye SEN PSG CDM Dakar 75 €28.80 30
Amine Harit MOR Schalke CAM Pontoise, France 69 €10.07 22
Forwards
Sadio Mane SEN Liverpool LF Sedhiou 90 €92.40 28
Wilfried Zaha CIV Crystal Palace CF Abidjan 77 €59.60 27
Moussa Marega MLI Porto ST Les Ulis, France 70 €16.80 29
Islam Slimani ALG Monaco ST Algiers 68 €19.80 31
Average/Totals 74 €712.90 27.13636364
A difficult pick but I’ve settled on a squad that could play in numerous formations, Sadio Mané and Riyad Mahrez are two of the Premier Leagues most potent wide players whilst the midfield is a superfluity of athleticism and technique.
The likes of Feghouli, Kessie and Gervinho didn’t survive the longlist but the competition was stiff. I’m not overly happy with the inclusion of goal starved Islam Slimani but the area is surprisingly scarce of talented out and out forwards.
If this team fails to collect all nine points in this group it would be the worst thing to happen to West Africa since Di Caprio’s accent in Blood Diamond.
South India & Arabian Sea
6 Indian provinces (Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Goa), Sri Lanka, Maldives
Population (millions):239.70
Another region that practises footballing atheism, this was one of the most difficult to research. But if any documentarians want to make this into a series then I’d be happy to take some time out to fly out and research the Maldives for a while.
The two island nations donate their services to an uninspiring mess of Indian nonentity. Including the world’s sixth highest scoring active player Ali Ashfaq, never heard of him? Nah me neither.
Goalkeepers Birthplace FM20 Value Age
Kamaljit Singh IND Hyderabad GK Goa 24 €0.02 24
Chathura Ekanayake SRI Eagles Malé GK Sri Lanka 22 €0.00 27
Defenders
Anas Edathodika IND ATK CB Kerala 33 €0.03 33
Adil Khan IND Hyderabad RB Goa 32 €0.02 31
Mandar Rao Dessal IND Mumbai City LB Goa 31 €0.02 28
Lenny Ridrigues IND Goa CDM Goa 24 €0.02 32
Mohamed Imtiyas SRI Renown CB Kotahena 25 €0.01 24
Akram Abdul Ghanee MDV Valencia (MDV) CB Maafaru 28 €0.01 33
Edwin Sydney IND Chennaiyin RWB Kerala 21 €0.01 27
Asikur Alawadeen SRI Pelicans CB Kurunegala 23 €0.01 26
Midfielders
Brandon Fernandes IND Goa CAM Goa 33 €0.03 25
Rowllin Borges IND Mumbai City CDM Goa 32 €0.02 27
Sahal Abdul Samad IND Kerala Blasters CM Kerala 34 €0.04 23
Michael Soosairaj IND ATK CM Tamil Nadu 32 €0.03 25
Nikhil Poojari IND Hyderabad CM Karnataka 29 €0.02 24
Ahmed Razeek SRI Berliner AK CDM Berlin 44 €0.06 26
Mohamed Umair MDV Maziya CM Malé 27 €0.01 20
Romeo Fernandes IND Odisha RM Goa 23 €0.02 27
Forwards
Ashique Kuruniyan IND Bengaluru CF Kerala 35 €0.04 22
Jobby Justin IND ATK ST Kerala 28 €0.02 26
CK Vineeth IND Jamshedpur ST Kerala 27 €0.02 31
Ali Ashfaq MDV Club Green Streets ST Malé 27 €0.01 34
Average/Totals 29 €0.47 27.04545455
Ali Ashfaq has officially netted 463 times in his now 19 year career. Haters will say most of that was in the Maldivian league but I think I’d only be able to score half that amount so fair play to him.
The most notable islander is German born Sri Lankan Ahmed Razeek, the Berliner came through the ranks at now-Bundesliga team Union Berlin, but finds himself playing fourth tier football at the time of writing. At 25, Razeek only dedicated his services to Golden Lion in 2019, a bit of European experience may help the nation who have commanded just four wins in the last five years.
India’s most promising contribution to the side is 22 year old Ashique Kuruniyan, the young forward lacks goals but is known as something of a playmaker, Kuruniyan to Ashfaq could be the new Ozil to Ronaldo, but realistically I think this team will be lucky to find the net at all if the ratings are anything to Goa on.
Oceania and Southeast Asia
Australia, American Samoa, Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tahiti, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Cambodia, Singapore, Phillipines, Malaysia, 11 Indonisian Provinces (Papua, West Papua, Maluku, North Maluku, Sulawesi Island, East Nusa Tenggara, West Nusa Tenggara)
Population: 231.57
I almost broke the comma button on my laptop writing out all those islands, and it still doesn’t quite reach 240m. The pacific islands are home to some of the worst national teams out there, none more infamous than American Samoa who hold the record for the biggest ever defeat in international football, a 31-0 loss to Australia. If anyone hasn’t seen the documentary that was inspired subsequently to the loss, ‘next goal wins’ is perhaps my favourite football film and couldn’t recommend it highly enough when trying to explain the humanity of playing football in this part of the world.
The antagonists of the Samoan’s defeat, Australia have since changed confederations from lack of challenge. Joining the Asian Football Confederation in early 2006, the Socceroo’s have since won the Asian Cup on home soil and qualified for each of the previous four iterations of the World Cup. In 2006 a ‘golden generation’ fronted by Harry Kewell and Tim Cahill narrow missed out on a quarter final berth being beaten by eventual champions Italy in the 95th minute thanks to a controversial penalty.
While the likes of Kewell, Cahill and Mark Schwarzer have long since retired, the Aussies produce a modest yet constant procession of pro’s. Along with fellow anglophone New Zealand, the select Oceanic islanders often choose a path of playing in England’s football pyramid, with a few Premier League stalwarts found within the squad below.
Southeast Asia has a curious footballing culture, a strong general interest in the European game with seemingly little rewards for their appropriation, no malaysians manage to sneak into the selection whilst the Phillipines’ most famous athlete behind Manny Pacquiao only makes back up keeper.
Goalkeepers Birthplace Football manager Value Age
Matthew Ryan AUS Brighton GK Plumpton 66 €15.80 28
Neil Etheridge PH Cardiff GK London, England 64 €11.00 30
Defenders
Winston Reid NZ West Ham CB Auckland 66 €14.50 31
Milos Degenek AUS Red Star CB Knin, Croatia 62 €1.30 26
Trent Sainsbury AUS Maccabi Haifa RB Thornlie 60 €0.88 28
Bailey Wright AUS Bristol City CB Melbourne 59 €3.30 27
Wesley Lautoa NCA Dijon CB Epernay, France 62 €2.20 32
Aziz Behich AUS Basaksehir LB Melbourne 60 €2.20 29
Brad Smith AUS Bournemouth LWB Penrith 63 €9.50 26
Stephan Schrock PHI Cares RB Schweinfurt, Germany 57 €0.77 33
Midfielders
Aaron Mooy AUS Brighton CM Sydney 70 €26.70 29
Tom Rogic AUS Celtic CAM Griffith 67 €11.90 27
Mathew Leckie AUS Hertha Berlin CM Melbourne 65 €4.80 29
Robbie Kruse AUS Mebourne Victory RM Brisbane 64 €1.30 31
Awer Mabil AUS Mitdtjylland RW Kakuma, Kenya 63 €1.50 24
Craig Goodwin AUS Al-Wehda LM Adelaide 58 €4.60 28
Ryan Thomas NZ PSV CDM Te Puke 65 €6.50 25
Massimo Luongo AUS Sheffield W CDM Sydney 62 €7.80 27
Forwards
Chris Wood NZ Burnley ST Auckland 67 €23.40 28
Adam Taggart AUS Suwon Bluewings ST Perth 62 €0.84 26
Aposrolos Giannou AUS AEK Larnaka ST Nousa, Greece 63 €1.30 30
Daniel Arzani AUS Celtic CF Khorramabad, Iran 60 €8.20 21
Average/Totals 63 €160.29 29.68181818
As you can see the team is dominated by Aussie and Kiwi men, but there is some polynesian persuasion in the way of Wesley Lautoa who takes restbite trying to defend the likes of Neymar, Mbappe and Depay by bullying semi-pro strikers playing for New Caledonia.
Daniel Arzani is the best bet for a future talisman, despite really struggling to make the grade in Europe he’s still only 21 and could yet fulfil his potential. The Celtic forward has impeccable technical ability and has an eye on one day becoming a regular at his parent club Man City.
Chris Wood has a Premier League goal record that any striker would be proud of and is the archetypal Sean Dyche forward, but I would suggest that his physical play style precedes his genuine international quality. New Zealand famously exited the 2010 World Cup as the only side to leave undefeated, and part of that was due to the defensive talents of Winston Reid, who at that time was a 21 year old padawan learner to Blackburn hero Ryan Nelson. Now 31, The former West Ham captain Reid leads this sides defensive line where he’ll do his best to make the younger lads do most of the legwork.
Neil Etheridge is unlucky not to be the standout number one in this team, the keeper come underwear model caught the eyes of English fans saving three penalties in the 2018-19 season, although when on loan to Bristol Rovers he caught a free-kick and stepped backwards into his own goal, don’t think we’ve forgotten Neil.
Western China
9 Chinese Provinces (Feng Jin, Gansu, Shaanxi, Sichaun, Tibet, Xinjiang Uygur, Ningxia, Qinghai)
Population (millions): 256.25
A little over the limit for this one but you wouldn’t notice from the squad. The west of China is the least densely populated region and the one with the least investment in the club game, so it is no surprise that there is correlation to the talent, or lack thereof.
Every metric I’ve used in research points to this being the Chinese team that will struggle the most, the bulk of the players hail from Sichuan, which since we’re on reddit may give most of you PTSD of Rick and Morty fans standing on McDonalds counters.
None of the following players featured in the most recent Chinese national squad. In a sporting wilderness that hasn’t been invited to the game of Monopoly out east, you can’t blame this side for underwhelming.
Goalkeepers Birthplace FM20 Value Age
Wang QI CHI Shaanxi Athletic GK Shaanxi 35 €0.60 27
Yerjet Yerzat CHI Chongqing Lifan GK Xinjiang Uygur 36 €0.72 27
Defenders
Yang Xiaotian CHI Jiangsu Suning LB Shaanxi 40 €1.40 30
Wang Erzhuo CHI Shaanxi Athletic CB Shaanxi 28 €0.24 33
Alishat CHI Xinjiang Sport Lottery CB Xinjiang 40 €0.43 25
Zhang Ao CHI Xinjiang Sport Lottery RB Shanxi 28 €0.37 29
Liu Yu CHI Shanghai Shenxin CB Sichuan 30 €0.44 25
Zhou Xuri CHI Dalian Yifang CB Sichuan 29 €0.30 21
Otkur Hesen CHI Sichaun Jiuniu LB Xinjiang 20 €0.00 27
Bari Mamatil CHI Qiangdao Huanghai RWB Xinjiang 39 €1.50 31
Midfielders
Peng Xinli CHI Shanghai Shenhua CM Shanxi 47 €2.60 29
Mirahmetjan Muzepper CHI Shanghai SIPG CAM Xinjiang 46 €3.30 29
Zhang Xiuwei CHI Guangzhou E CM Sichuan 46 €2.70 24
Luo Senwen CHI Hebei China Fortune CDM Sichuan 44 €2.10 27
Li Yuanyi CHI Shenzhen CM SIchuan 42 €1.30 26
Zhang Chiming CHI Tianjin RW SIchuan 38 €1.10 31
Shewket Yalqun CHI Guangzhou E LW Xinjiang 33 €0.94 27
Yehya CHI Xinjiang Tianshan CM Xinjiang 24 €0.24 32
Forwards
Yan Dinghao CHI Gondomar CF Sichuan 45 €2.40 22
Li Fang CHI Chongqing Lifan ST Sichuan 34 €1.30 27
Gan Yingbo CHI Sichaun Longfor CF Sichuan 24 €0.16 35
Abduhamit Abdugheni CHI Jiangsu Suning CF Shaanxi 35 €0.75 23
Average/Totals 36 €24.89 27.59090909
Finding a 22 was a real struggle and there is an imbalance of positions to show for it. The only true striker is Chongqing’s Li Fang, who is officially listed as a striker-come-right back which is an oddly specific duology of skills.
The squad is predominantly composed of players from the nations second tier CL1, which to enlight the general reader means they probably aren’t going to win the tournament.
Another day another group, tomorrow we finally see one of the long anticipated Western European megasquads, and play a game of spot the Uzbekistani. Thanks again for reading, let me know if you think I've missed anyone from the squads or made an error and try to have a stab at the starting XI’s for today's teams.
submitted by Mel0n_Collie to soccer [link] [comments]

OBLIGATORY FILLER MATERIAL – BAR FIGHT? NOT WITH DOC BIONICFINGERS! Part one.

That reminds me of a story.
I’m going cooped-up crazy. Shacky-wacky. Hotel doldrums have set in.
Yes, I know. Es and I just got back from a resounding tour of a shipbreaking yard in India.
Flew way above First Class.
Never had to even touch our luggage.
♫Oh, what fun it is to charter flights. Limos all the way. Hey! ♫.
But, the hotel bars here are paling quickly. Quiet. Too quiet. Same old, dull, dazed, and dormant crowd. The Expat population in Dubai is dwindling mightily. The COVID craziness is a madness that is taking a heavy toll. Everything’s shut down. Everyone’s staying at home.
I’m almost nostalgic for a good old Dubai 35 car pile-up and traffic jam.
Es sees that I’m in a quandary. She had quite a few friends here in Dubai. The ones I had have all left due to cratering oil prices or they’re what’s considered an ‘essential employee’, and thus unavailable.
“ROCK! QUIT YOUR PACING!” Es says in her most inimitable manner. “YOU’RE MAKING ME CRAZY!”
“A thousand pardons, my darling. But, Boditek. I suffer! Klytus, I’m bored. Bored out of my fucking mind. I can only write so much on the Precambrian Hydrocarbon reservoirs of Eastern Siberia. Television’s a bust, there’s no Netflix, even Pirate Bay is blocked here, and I’m going spare!” I whimper.
“Go then. Begone with thee. Go find a dark bar and grab a seat on Mahogany Ridge. You need a night off. Just take your fingers with so you won’t scare the locals. And be home before they open the borders. We want to be first in line when that happens” she says.
“By your command!”, I say, grab her around the waist, give her a spin, a quick smooch on the cheek, and pat on the backside before I hit the stairs in our suite in a flat-out gallop to retrieve my now charged digits from their charging port on my nightstand.
A few minutes later…
Stately, plump Dr. Rocknocker came from the stairhead bearing three incredibly expensive technologically-derived Kevlar-ed digits. He was clad in his finest Desert Fox chino shorts, freshly cleaned and oiled field boots, a new pair of jade Merino Rannoch Luxury Country Socks, best new Hawaiian drinking shirt, a Blasting technician T-shirt and black, recently blocked, Stetson.
He was so full of himself, that he actually stopped talking about his own self in the narrative in the third person.
“Esme? Darling? I’m off!” I say with a lilt in my voice and a cheeseburger in my pocket.
But that’s another story.
“You’re off, all right”, Es chuckles. “Now Rock, remember. This is the first time in a long time I’m letting you off the chain, out unsupervised among the general population. Don’t break anyone if you can avoid it and even if someone needs a quick killing, remember, you’re on vacation. OK?”
“Oh, my dear!” I chuckle and snicker, “You know me. I wouldn’t kill anyone here in Dubai. There’s no money in it.”
“Still. Best behavior?” She admonishes.
“I can’t guarantee anything, but I will try,” I reply.
“Pinkie promise?” she requests.
Damn. One of the few fingers of which left I have a natural set.
Now I can’t say that it was just a Kevlar-coated contract.
“But of course”, I say as we entwine pinkies. Hers nice, clean, and pink; mine keloidal, gnarled, and scarred.
Yeah, it about makes me retch. But Es sort of enjoys these silly things now and again.
I’m waiting in the hotel bar for my cab to arrive. I have a quick Long Island Iced Tea or three before I hit the streets. I’ve got this weird hankering for a sports bar. Don’t know why. I hate football, i.e., soccer, cricket, and those other weird forms of ball chasing they call sports over here.
But I yearn to be in a bar full of leather, hewn wood, and smoke. Attended by the smell of manly men drinking as they see fit.
In Dubai? Fat chance.
I ask my driver, who has just arrived, and who will be with me all night; if he minds me smoking, having a drink in a plain brown wrapper, and if he knows of a decent sports bar in Dubai.
No.
Nope.
Quantum Sports Bar.
“It’s sort of pricey”, he tells me.
My driver for the duration is one Roy Toisuta, an Indonesian chap who looks like he fell off a charm bracelet. In reality, I could make up three of him. But he’s affable, quick on the gas and bound to be a boon companion.
He is wiry in that whipsaw sort of kill-you-with-a-paperclip-1000-different-ways sort of manner. Like the human personification of a gaunt wolverine.
We’ll get along famously.
He tells me he doesn’t drink for whatever reason. He announces that he would wait for me out in the car while I go in and do whatever one does in a Sports Bar in Dubai for a few hours.
“Look, Roy”, I say, “I’m on retainer. C’mon in and I’ll buy you dinner and all the coffee, tea, or fizz water you could want. I just need someone non-judgmental. See, I have this affliction. I’m an alcohol-fueled carbon-based organism. I tend to drink a lot, but only to excess. You have any sort of problem with that?”
“Well, Rock”, he says, “As long as we’re being honest, I have no problem. The way I see it, the more you drink, the looser your wallet becomes.”
“I don’t suppose you’d care to lay a small wager on that conclusion?” I ask, leerily in that strange way I have that makes Komodo Dragons gulp in disbelief.
“I’ll bet, after what you told me about your recent confinement, that I’ll be dragging and/or carrying you out of the bar tonight. “ he snickers, dreaming of my very loose wallet and its contents. “You’re going to be tying one on, I can see that.”
“You can see me. But you can’t see my past” I think.
“Well, you’re not drinking, so what’s in it for me if I win?” I ask.
“A free driver for the next week?” he asks.
“Want to make it a month? I’m really, really thirsty.” I sneer.
“Make it a fortnight.”, he laughs. “Easiest money I’ve ever made. I can barely hold you back.”
“Deal”, as we shake hands. He notices my gloves for the first time.
“What’s that all about?” he asks.
“Industrial accident years ago. Not terribly pretty.” I say.
“Oh. OK. Ready to go?” He asks.
“Gentlemen”, I announce, “Forward. Drink!”
Roy accepts a cigar from one of my travel pocket humidors and we walk up to the entrance.
“You be who?” asks the doorman.
“Well, my good man, I am the Motherfucking Pro from Dover, and this is my able-bodied companion, Kato”, I say in my most affected Elliott Gould imitation.
“What?” he asks trying to corral at least two functioning synapses.
“Pardons. I’m Dr. Rocknocker and this is my trusty driver, Roy.” I continue.
“Ah. What? Hmm? Who?” was the response.
“Oh, I am sorry. Which word confused you?” I asked, most deferentially.
“You trying to be smart?” he asks.
“Well, I reckoned that at least one of us should,” I replied.
He sat there and fumbled with that reply like a nun in a warm bathtub fumbles with a bar of soap. You know the type, she has hope in her soul…
As he struggles to come up with an answer, I offer him a cigar the likes of which I’m certain he’s never seen outside of a Hollywoo movie.
“Here, my good man. My card.” I say as I hand over a large example of the perfection of the tobacconist’s art.
He gratefully accepts the cigar and removes the rope barrier.
“Have yourself a good time, gents.” He says.
“Oh. We intend to”, I reply.
“Ever need anything, just ask for Sandeep” the towering Nepali remarks with a smile.
“Thanks. Have a night yourself…”, I reply and stuff another cigar in his shirt pocket for later.
He grins wide as Dubai Creek and just as brown. He shoots me a wide smile and a universal thumbs-up sign.
“Best to make friends rather than antagonize the locals”, I muse.
“You’re an odd bird, Doctor Rocknocker.” Roy chortles.
“Roy, it’s just ‘Rock’, OK? It’ll save both time and cuts down on CO2 exhalations. And I’m all for protecting the environment.” I smiled back.
Roy chewed on that one for most the rest of the night.
The Sports Bar was quiet. Fairly empty, with probably more wait-persons than patrons.
One particularly buxom specimen of the female side of the equation welcomed us in an overtly and obviously affected mien. She wanted to show us to a table that was within the sphere of her waitressy influence.
“No, thank you”, I said as I spied acres and acres of glistening unoccupied Mahogany with tens of unoccupied seats that both faced the long bar and the several large-screen televisions there.
Seemingly bereft of people to wait and prey upon, she ignored us roundly. To her financial detriment as we would all find out during the course of the evening.
I chose a likely looking seat at the bar and Roy joined me, cautiously, a seat or two away.
“I don’t bite, Roy”, I said.
“Social distancing”, he replied.
“Ah. Well, I have a fully functional immune system as well as the hardest working liver in the galaxy. I assure you I’m in no way communicable.” I replied, slightly miffed. “Besides, after that cab ride here, whatever ætiology I have, you have as well, and vice versa.”
He scooted over one seat but shuttled that seat back to the right about 15 more centimeters.
“Some folks just don’t like their personal space invaded”, I surmised.
I pulled out one of my cigar cases, a cutter, lighter, and a stack of currencies that I was going to try and get rid of that night.
I had freshly minted UK Pounds, Euros of many nations, Indian Rupees, Russian Rubles, Japanese Yen, Chinese Renmimbi, some Uzbek Som, Afghani Afghans, Argentinian Pesos, down under Ozzian Dollarydoos, Mongolian Tugriks, Omani Rials, a few Samoan Tālā, and a bunch of US dollars.
How I ended up with that last group remains a mystery.
Roy goggled at the stack of weirdly colored and weirdly wonderful currencies of many nations.
“Sorry, Roy”, I said, “No Indonesian rupiah. Haven’t been to Jakarta in a long time.”
“What the hell are those weird ones there?” he asked.
“Which ones?” I chuckled back.
It was at that time our reverie was broken.
The bartender, one Zac O'Madden, an Irish national currently working for the hotel to which this bar is attached, interrupts our nascent debauch and asks for our drink orders.
“Not so fast there!” I say. “Introductions first. We’re not savages here.”
Zac chuckles. “You’re obviously American.”
“Вы уверены в этом? [Are you certain of that?]”, I say in return.
Zac just stands there and laughs.
“Та үнэхээр итгэлтэй байна уу? [Are you really certain?]” I ask in Mongolian. “Ĉu vi vere certas? Bạn có thực sự chắc chắn?”
“You’re as Russian or whatever that was as I am Kenyan. Now I know it. You’re American.” He says assuredly.
“And you have this nasty habit of being correct. I’m Dr. Rocknocker, call me Rock. This slight but solid fellow to my right is Roy, late of Jakarta and Krakatoa, actually west of Java.” I snicker.
“And I am Zac O’Madden, of Dublin and points east. Nice to meet you all. What can I get for you?” he asks.
After we shake hands in a very manly, indeed, manner, I ask Roy what is his pleasure.
“A tall club soda with a twist of lime, on the rocks.” He replies offhandedly.
“You’ve done this before”, I observe rather unnecessarily. “Zac, Roy gets what he wants tonight, my tab. I’ll have a Sazerac, hold the sugar. Actually several. You see, on the flight over, I sat through another showing of ’Live and Let Die’, and now I miss Mardi Gras, New Orleans, and Pat O’Brien’s. But I don’t like sweet drinks.”
“Coming right up”, Zac says with a well-practiced swish of his bar rag.
“Oh, but I’m not finished. I’d also like a beer chaser. A pint of…ah, do you have a beer menu?” I ask, looking down the long row of tappers.
“Coming up”, he says, and races off to find me one.
A few minutes later he returns with my cocktail, Roy’s fizz water, and a bar beer menu.
I raise my glass to Zac and then to Roy. We clink and I say, “I like this guy. And I like this bar. We’re going to have us a large night.”
I drain my unsweet Sazerac in one go.
Hey. I was thirsty. Needs a scootch more absinthe I observe.
Roy and Zac just sort of stare, wide-eyed, as I peruse the beer menu.
Nice menu, nice diversity. Oh, very nice.
“I’ll have the Asahi Kuronama Black if you don’t mind. Plus another Sazerac, a bit more absinthe if you please. You see, I have this genetic condition I need to keep in balance.” I grinned.
Zac looked at me like I had some sort of adverse medical condition.
“You OK, Rock?” he asked most earnestly.
“Look, Zac, I just met you and you’re a hell of a tarbender, far be it from me to tell you your job, but you see, there is this…” I said, trailing off.
“Yes?” His was a look of genuine concern. The genuine concern he won’t own that pile of currency on the bar in front of me by the end of the night.
“Yeah. Genetics dealt me a weird hand. See. I’m an ethanol-fueled carbon-based organism…”
Roy just rolled his eyes.
Zac looked puzzled.
“Yeah, I require alcohol in good-tasting and heroic amounts on a regular basis. I also have to smoke huge, black cigars in order to moderate the bioreactor.” I smiled, as I leaned back and fired up a heater.
Zac looked at me. Chewed over what I said for a moment or two. He shrugged his shoulders, grabbed my empty glass, and said, “OK, whatever. Round two in moments.”
Roy went to ask me something, thought better of it, and just leaned over and grabbed my Zippo from Irkutsk.
He looked at the cameo-relief silver and amber city crest attached to the lighter, flipped it open, and tried firing up his cigar.
“They draw better if you cut the end first,” I said, absently; and not looking, just hand him my V-cutter.
Zac returns with a new Sazerac, a chilled bottle of Asahi Kuronama Black, a tall pilsner glass, and a new club soda for Roy.
I puffed my cigar, drained another Sazerac in one go, tried the Japanese black beer, and found it to my liking. I leaned back to observe what sort of sports carnage they were observing on the big screens.
Roy just looked at me with wide eyes but said nothing.
The evening wore on. After a couple or twelve more Sazeracs, I decided it was time to teach Zac the finer points of mixology via premium vodka, bubbly citrus, ice, and lime wheels.
I also found that they had a stock of Pabst Blue Ribbon 1844, from China.
“PBR!”, I almost yelled, “Holy wow! I grew up on the stuff.”
“Not this stuff, Rock”, Zac said, “Look at the price. We only got a small amount due to a shipping error. It’s not sold outside of China normally.”
It was UAE 165 per bottle, about US$45, and worth every dirham. Zak was amazed when I told him to go ahead and have one on Roy and me.
“Really, Rock?”, Zac exclaimed. “The usual buggers here are so tight, they hum when the wind blows. Hardly anyone buys me a drink. Except for you Americans. Finest kind.”
“That’s me. An international ambassador of amity and alcohol,”, I say and toast in his general direction. “Crack tubes!”
Roy was getting tired as a newt. Evidently not drinking, listening to old war stories, and watching recorded US Football games due to the COVID lack of anything live, can take its toll as well.
I’m going strong as I’m asking Zac to explain what the fuck cricket is all about.
“So, let me get this straight,” I say, ordering another double cocktail and a couple of PBR chasers for Zac and myself. “The guy on the mound runs up and pitches to the guy dressed in the body armor. He uses a bent 2x4 to defend the wicket, which, if I recall correctly, can be sticky. Then he keeps the aliens from stealing the stumps and burning them to ashes in Australia...”
“God”, Zac exclaims, “You’re fucking hopeless.”
“Everything I know about cricket I learned from the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the galaxy.” I smiled proudly.
“That was rather obvious…” Zac sheeshed. He left to attend to another patron, a loud and woozy Kiwi.
I looked at the source of all the bad noise and in my inattention, just clicked my full beer glass. I inadvertently violated Rule #1 and spilled a small soupçon of expensive, imported beer onto my left hand.
“Whoops!”, I said and stripped off my sodden left-hand glove. I used Zac’s bar towel to sop up the bar and dry my techno-digits.
Roy looked not only at my ‘whoops’, but goggled my Japanese one-off, so far, electro-fingers.
“Rock. What the hell, man. I mean, what the fuck. Are those for real?” he asked.
“Yeah, they are a new prototype and I’m the lab rat.”, I said, waggling them and seeing that something as mundane a beer spill could never possibly injure them.
By this time, Zac wanders back, sees I’ve used his bar rag, and looks at my hand for real for the first time.
“What the fuck, Rocko? You some sort of cyborg?” he asks.
“By definition; yes, I am. And my grandfather used to call me that. Thanks.”, I replied. “But, yeah, I’m an alcohol-fueled one at that,” I say, tapping and pointing rather pointedly at my currently unpopulated cocktail glass.
Zac returns with a reload. He and Roy demand to know the whole story.
“If you must pry…” I say.
“Oh, we must, we must”, they reply in unison.
So, I regale them with the tale of the Siberian rig. The blowout, fire, and the moderately overzealous Russian FNG.
“Rock, I don’t know if that’s true, but by your appearance, it has to be. Let me buy you a drink.” Zac says.
Roy asks for a Molson Light.
“Roy! You old fraud.” I said.
“I usually don’t drink. But after that story, I think I need something cold, wet, and with a little punch.” He said, staring at my hand.
“Then you’ve chosen well”, as I down another Rocknocker, sip at my PBR and snip a new cigar.
“Rock, can I ask you a question?” Roy asks. Zac is polishing our spot at the bar insistently. I think he has a question or two as well.
“Sure. Go nuts.” I reply, puffing on my new cigar and sipping this lovely amber 1844 brew.
He crouches conspiratorially and asks in a low sotto voce: “Is that why you drink as you do? To dull the pain? From the accident. That’s it, right? Isn’t it?” Roy asks, almost genuinely concerned.
I laughed loud and long. I chuckled, snorted, and had to calm myself with gulps of my beer and cocktail.
“Roy, Roy, Roy…I’ll let you in on a little secret. I’m from Baja Canada originally. I’m a multiply-degreed petroleum geologist. I’ve lived and worked in Russia for many, many years. And, as I’ve said, I’m an ethanol-fueled organism. Quadruple perfect storm. My fingers don’t hurt. Or they might, I have no idea. I don’t even know where hell they are.” I laughed at my own witty repartee.
Roy actually paled some. He took a long draught of his anemic beer and just stared at me.
Zac had disappeared. He presently returned with a bottle of Beluga Gold Line Vodka.
“Rock, after that, this one’s for you. On the house.” He said.
“Only if you will join me. And let me pay for yours.” I said.
Zac agrees.
The shnozzled Kiwi from previous in the narrative staggers by and hears the tag-end of our conversation.
He leans over to grab the expensive bottle of vodka and says “Don’t mind if I do.”
“None for you, asshole. You’re lucky I let you stay here waiting on a cab” Zac growls, and grabs the bottle away.
The Kiwi looks at Zac. He looks at Roy. Then he looks at me, my drinks, cigar, and the smaller pile of currency on the bar.
He may have been loaded, but something swam upstream against his internal current of booze and made him decide that right now, discretion was the better part of valor. He toddled unsteadily away.
“Asswipe”, Zac spits, “He’s here every other month. He pays for his drinks, but he can’t hold them. Never once tips or buys a round. General asshole. Still, management won’t let me toss nor ban him.”
“Some people”, I distastefully agreed and poured Zac and myself a healthy double-tot of the fine, smooth, and icy vodka. “I weep for our species sometimes.”
I insisted Zac join me. I asked Roy if he’d like a taste.
“Thanks, Rock. But you’ve already been too much of a bad influence on me.” he smiled, and tipped his almost empty pilsner glass.
“OK, no pressure. I may drink like a school of belugas, but if someone else doesn’t want to, I respect that all day long. Still, the offer stands.” I continue.
“I’ll think about it, Rock. I’m still not over how you can just sit there and joke about your cybernetic fingers and how you got them. I’d…I don’t know. I don’t want to think about it. “ he shudders.
“Want to see the scar on my leg where I got shot with a .45? Or the scar on my coconut from a hunk of falling ice on a drilling rig?” I asked.
“Fuck no!”, Roy almost screams. “What the hell. You held together by scar tissue?”
”That. Baling wire and Duct Tape.” I laughed, “And people wonder why I drink.”
“I thought so!” Roy exclaimed.
“I drink because I chose to. I can stop anytime. In fact, I stopped smoking and drinking once; by nothing more than sheer force of will.” I said proudly.
“Really?” Roy asked.
“Yep”, I replied, “It was the worst 45 minutes of my life.”
To be continued…
submitted by Rocknocker to Rocknocker [link] [comments]

Tennis Betting - Tips For Exchange Betting on Tennis Matches

By choosing tennis as your preferred sport for betting, you have already given yourself an "edge" against those who bet on or offer odds on other sports. To use this "edge" to make money consistently, however, you'll need to understand two fundamental principles first. Then apply the power of mathematics.
Principle #1
It is sheer folly to place a tennis bet (or a bet on anything) with a "traditional" bookmaker. The expression "You can't beat the bookie" is axiomatic; you just cannot beat the bookie over time. It's because the odds are always mathematically calculated in favour of the bookmaker. Everyone knows (or should know) that the bookie's mathematical "edge" against the punter is necessary for him to make a profit so that he can stay in business.
Computer technology has given rise to a new form of betting, known as "exchange betting" or "matched betting". With "betting exchanges" there is no bookie to beat; in other words, there is no middle-man. Every punter bets against another punter or punters somewhere out there in the Internet ether. Any punter (or "trader") can place a "back" bet that a player or team will win, and/or place a "lay" bet that a player or team will lose. Thus, any punter can choose to act as an ordinary bettor and/or as a bookmaker.
With exchange betting the odds are not set by a third-party or middle-man; they are set by the punters themselves, who place requests for odds at which they are prepared to place bets (if they wish to act as an ordinary bettor), or place offers of odds at which they are prepared to lay bets (if they wish to act as a bookmaker).
As the "back" bettors gradually lower their requested odds and the "lay" bettors gradually raise their offered odds, the software on the exchange betting web site matches all the back bets with all the lay bets at the instant they coincide. The accounts of the "backers" or "layers" are then credited with their winnings automatically a few seconds after the end of the event according to its result.
Obviously, the technology for providing such a "fair" betting service must be paid for somehow. This payment is taken in the form of a commission on the punter's net winnings on an event (or "market"). That is, commission is charged only on any positive difference between winnings and losses on the same event.
This betting system is as close to a perfectly fair betting environment as it is possible to achieve.
There are very few betting exchanges in existence, however, perhaps because the exchange betting software is so complex and therefore costly. The giant among exchange betting web sites is Betfair, with about 90% of the market at the time of writing. Others are the Global Betting Exchange (BetDAQ), ibetX, Betsson, Matchbook and the World Bet Exchange (WBX). Betfair is by far the most popular because it was the first to offer this "perfectly fair" betting environment, and is trusted to perform accurately and instantly.
Principle #2
So, why does tennis betting give you that "edge" over betting on other sports? The answer, though simple, is often overlooked even by those who bet tennis regularly. And if you're someone who's never bet on tennis, you'd almost certainly not have realized the significance of the tennis scoring system on the betting.
Consider this fundamental difference between the tennis scoring system and that of probably any other sport you can think of.
In other sports and games the trailing player or team must make up the points gap by winning a point for every point they have already lost in order to catch up to the leader. Only then can they start to move ahead. This fact seems obvious.
In tennis, however, the trailing player or team can lose the first set 6-0 (possibly with a deficit of 24 points). That team can then win the second set by the most narrow of margins, 7-6 in a tie-break, winning the set by very few points (or even by winning fewer points than the opponents, a rare but possible occurrence!).
As soon as the trailing player or team wins the second set, the two sides suddenly have even scores, even though one player or team might have actually won many more points than the opponents.
This anomaly often has a profound psychological effect on one or both sides, which affects the way they play for the next few minutes, and therefore also the betting odds requested and offered by punters on the match. This, however, is another aspect of tennis betting which may be the subject of another article. This article deals with the mathematical aspect of tennis betting and how to win money with this knowledge.
How to win at tennis betting
Now that you're aware of these two fundamental principles, how can you use them to your advantage when making tennis bets?
The key is not to be just a "backer" or a "layer", simply betting on the final outcome of an event. If you do that, you will lose out over time, because there's always a small difference between the "back" odds and the "lay" odds -- there must be, otherwise there'd be no incentive for anyone to offer odds and there'd be no betting at all. Combine that with the commission you pay on your net winnings, and the "edge" is against you mathematically (although it is not as great as with conventional bookmakers).
The secret to winning at tennis betting is to be BOTH a "backer" AND a "layer", but at different points during the event. This is another aspect of betting that distinguishes the exchange betting web site from the traditional bookie. At the betting exchange you can place a back or lay bet at any time during the event, right up until the very last second or the final point. This is known as "in-play" betting.
Because in-play betting is allowed, the odds for each opposing side change as the event progresses, according to the likelihood (as perceived by the punters) of either one side or the other being the eventual winner. The trick is to place a back bet on one side at certain odds and later place a lay bet on that side (or a back bet on the other side) at better odds as fortunes change and the odds swing in your favour. If you can achieve this, you will win your bet overall, regardless of the outcome of the event -- a true "win-win" scenario.
Why bet on tennis and not on other sports?
Apart from Principle #2, explained earlier, tennis is ideal for such "swing" betting, because the odds fluctuate after every point is played. There are therefore very many small swings to one side and then to the other. This doesn't happen in soccer, for example, because goals are so rare and a goal shifts the advantage suddenly and hugely to the scoring side.
Furthermore, a tennis match can have one of only two results; there can be no draw or tie; and one of only two players or teams can win. In horse racing, for example, the winner can come from a large number of runners.
The more possible outcomes there are to factor into the equation, the more difficult it is to win. (Despite this obvious logic, soccer and horse racing remain the two most popular sports for betting, probably for historical reasons. Tennis is already third in popularity, however, as more and more punters discover the fact that it is easier to make money betting on tennis than on any other sport.)
"In-play" betting or "pre-event" betting?
Now that you have -- it is hoped -- understood and absorbed the generalities of exchange betting and the peculiarities of tennis scoring, it is time to explain the details of how you can win at tennis betting.
Earlier it was stated that the secret to winning at tennis betting is to be both a "backer" and a "layer", but at different points during the event, placing bets at different times during the event as fortunes change and the odds swing in your favour. This can be done with both "in-play" betting and "pre-event" betting.
One method used with in-play betting is called "scalping". As its name suggests, scalping involves skimming a tiny profit by backing or laying at exactly the right moment as the odds move slightly in your favour, perhaps when one player scores two or three consecutive points, and repeating the process again and again. The biggest drawback of scalping is that it is very time-consuming and fraught with mental and physical tension. Not only must you pay full attention to what's happening during the match by live video broadcast, but you must also catch exactly the right moments at which to bet, which is, in fact, made impossible by the 5-second delay imposed by the exchange betting software between the time you place the bet and the time it is accepted.
We're not elaborating on this here because, as stated previously, this article is about winning by mathematics, not by the sweat of your brow. The maths aspect involves betting, not during the event, but before the event starts. That is, pre-event betting.
Mathematics do not lie!
There are a few tennis betting "systems", some purely manual, others using software programs, some of which are enormously complicated. From the investigations of the writer (a mathematician), they all require the input, at some point, of a "probability factor" by the bettor. This probability factor is usually the odds at which you want your "balancing" bet (the "lay" bet on the "backed" side or the "back" bet on the opposing side) to be triggered, giving you the "win-win" scenario mentioned earlier.
So, how do you determine the value of this probability factor? That, dear reader, is the crucial point of the whole matter, the linch-pin that holds any exchange betting "system" together and determines whether it succeeds or fails, whether you win or lose.
Up to now, it seems, this probability factor has had to be determined by the sheer experience of a few seasoned professional gamblers, or by trial-and-error guesswork by lesser mortals. Little wonder that so many punters lose or do not win as much as they could because they do not know the EXACT value needed to optimize their bets!
Accuracy is of paramount importance when determining the probability factor, in order to maximize the chances of winning consistently. A search on the Web for a tool to calculate it proved negative. The writer therefore created one that encompasses not only all aspects of exchange betting but also the peculiarities of the tennis scoring system, and called it the Abacus Exchange Betting Calculator, for want of a better name. The probability factor is calculated to two decimal places, merely by entering the pre-event odds of both opposing sides, and has enabled the writer to make consistently more than 10% profit from tennis betting since Wimbledon 2009.
As a parallel test, the writer also placed bets according to "gut feeling", in sufficient numbers to establish a trend. It resulted in a loss of 10% of the working capital (or "bank").
Other tests were done, using the Abacus Exchange Betting Calculator, by betting on other sports where small odds swings occur, such as American Football, snooker and darts (very long matches only, otherwise the swings are too large). The results here just about covered the commissions paid on winnings; so, it is not worthwhile.
It seems, then, that the particular mathematical formula or algorithm (which is very complex) discussed here works well only in conjunction with the unique scoring system of tennis.
Conclusion
As a scientist, the writer feels that it is highly probable to win at sports betting consistently over time only when the following factors are present:
  1. An exchange betting web site is used, not a conventional betting web site. (Beware of many sites that pretend to offer exchange betting by appearing in search engine results for "exchange betting"! Ensure that their software system enables you both to back and to lay bets at any odds you want against other punters, not against the house. If in doubt, check that their web site looks like the one at Betfair.)
AND
  1. The sport is tennis, because of its unique scoring system.
AND
3(a) You learn about and become experienced in in-play betting and are prepared to devote almost all your time glued to a computer screen while following each match, sometimes more than one simultaneously.
OR
3(b) You use software that tells you exactly the odds to request and offer and the stakes to place in pre-event betting in only a few minutes, thus allowing you to get on with your normal life.
submitted by PresentType to 1xbetjapandotcom [link] [comments]

I'mma head out

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temporary ten tend tendency tennis tension tent term terms terrible territory terror terrorism terrorist test testify testimony testing text than thank thanks that the theater their them theme themselves then theory therapy there therefore these they thick thin thing think thinking third thirty this those though thought thousand threat threaten three throat through throughout throw thus ticket tie tight time tiny tip tire tired tissue title to tobacco today toe together tomato tomorrow tone tongue tonight too tool tooth top topic toss total totally touch tough tour tourist tournament toward towards tower town toy trace track trade tradition traditional traffic tragedy trail train training transfer transform transformation transition translate transportation travel treat treatment treaty tree tremendous trend trial tribe trick trip troop trouble truck true truly trust truth try tube tunnel turn TV twelve twenty twice twin two type typical typically ugly ultimate ultimately unable uncle under undergo understand understanding unfortunately uniform union unique unit United universal universe university unknown unless unlike unlikely until unusual up upon upper urban urge us use used useful user usual usually utility vacation valley valuable value variable variation variety various vary vast vegetable vehicle venture version versus very vessel veteran via victim victory video view viewer village violate violation violence violent virtually virtue virus visible vision visit visitor visual vital voice volume volunteer vote voter vs vulnerable wage wait wake walk wall wander want war warm warn warning wash waste watch water wave way we weak wealth wealthy weapon wear weather wedding week weekend weekly weigh weight welcome welfare well west western wet what whatever wheel when whenever where whereas whether which while whisper white who whole whom whose why wide widely widespread wife wild will willing win wind window wine wing winner winter wipe wire wisdom wise wish with withdraw within without witness woman wonder wonderful wood wooden word work worker working works workshop world worried worry worth would wound wrap write writer writing wrong yard yeah year yell yellow yes yesterday yet yield you young your yours yourself youth zone
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OBLIGATORY FILLER MATERIAL – Just take a hard left at Daeseong-dong…11

Continuing…
That being handled, I leave a wakeup call for 0430 as I want a shower and a couple shower-sunrisers before we leave. It takes me about 10 minutes to pack. I call home to let Es know what’s going on. She’s not in, so I leave a message. Same for my friends Rack and Ruin of the Agency. They’re thrilled so far with my reports.
The security forces here are absolutely going to freak if they reverse-review my phone records once we leave.
Covert? Schmovert. I’m too old for playing such games.
The next morning, after a sudsy shower and a couple of vodka-infused shower-beers; I’m in the lobby with all my kit, checked-out, and waiting on the tour leader. My passport was stamp-stamp-stampity-stamped here at the hotel, which I thought was weird, but after spending time in this here country, not all that unusual.
At 0545 on the dime, the tour bus pulls into the lot. Without a word, bellhops grab near all my kit and escort it out to the waiting bus.
After tipping each extravagantly, I fire up a huge cigar, and wander around outside, loitering by the bus. I see members of my team at the front desk, checking out. Everything’s been paid for already, they just have to sign documents that they’re not secreting hotel towels or televisions or errant nationals in their luggage.
It’s a weird country.
I see them loading box breakfasts for us as well as box lunches on the bus.
Hell, they’re actually doing ‘field trip’ correctly.
If the bus us fueled up, we can go for days at this rate. There are several coolers bearing the hotel’s brand and I sidle over to see what they’re carrying.
Case after case of iced-down beer and a couple of cases of various high-octane potables; and over there? A couple of boxes of mixers…ah, soda…pop…carbonated citrusy goodness.
“OK”, I sigh, “All is as it should be. Now the field excursion may begin.”
My teammates filter outside as does their luggage. I suggest they get out and keep what is necessary for preliminary outcrop excursions; such as a backpack or knapsack, hammer, acid bottles, field notebooks, Brunton compass, lighters, cameras, personal tobacco products, and the like in the bus. That way, we don’t have to go tearing through all the luggage at every stop.
I pull out a bundle of 100 Hubco™ large geological dual-sample bags. That’s right: ‘dual’ sample…
I distribute these to everyone on the team. I ask that they devise their own numbering system and make absolutely certain I have a copy of it when we’re done. I’ll be correlating and curating all the samples when we get back to the world.
I ask that a cooler of drinks are left on board the bus, rather than in the hold. It’s humid, sticky, and muggy today. We must expend valiant effort in remaining hydrated and this will help.
Luckily, the bus has on-board lavatory facilities.
We are seated on the bus, my 10 collective team members, myself, our 4 ‘guides’, ‘Yuk’, ‘No’, ‘Man’, and ‘Kong’; our driver, relief driver, one incredibly shy national geologist, Myung-Dae Soo, and four of the shiny suit clan.
The hotel wheels out a large cart laden with pastries and a huge coffee urn. A bit of a “Bon Voyage” from the casino and bar crowd, as they put this together for us when they heard we were leaving.
“Hey. That’s really nice of them.” Dax notes.
Dax handed over our raw “elevator waiting” funds as we didn’t have time to run it through the casino-machine before we left. We donated over 75,000 won to our friends at the bar, casino, and massage parlor. The ones delivering our going away present assured us it would be divided equitably.
“It best be”, I laughed, “You never know when one of us might be back!”
There was a collective horrified look on their faces for the merest moments. Then they all laughed and said that they hoped we would return someday soon.
“Nice folks”, I thought, “Stupid as shit country, but nice folks.”
We had all separately left tips for the room maids, bellmen, and matrons back before we checked-out.
There was a flurry of handshaking and goodbyes. Not a bad hotel experience here in the so-called land of Best Korea.
Serious dark coffee was passed out amongst the riders, but Ivan, myself, and Dax were already giving one of my emergency flasks a workout.
Ivan smiled and said: “We drink our coffee the Russian way. That is to say we had vodka before it and vodka afterward. HA!”
Ivan and I are cut from the same bolt.
Faux-doughnuts, pseudo-bear claws and fake-long johns all distributed; the bus is fired up, and rumbling. We are exhorted to watch our drinks as we pull away from the hotel and into the wilds of Northern Korea.
I’m humming away:

On the road again -Just can't wait to get on the road again,
The life I love is bashing rocks in the field with my friends.
And I can't wait to get on the road again
On the road again.
Goin' places that we've never been,
Seein' things that we may never see again…
--
“Rock?”, Dax inquires.
“Yes?” I reply.
“Do please shut up.”
“Music hater”, I muse and comply.
We’re rolling down the highway, as it were, headed generally north. We all have cameras of one kind or another; and rather than relieve us of them, they quietly and without much fuss, slowly darken the windows.
They claim it’s to keep the sun out and temperatures down, but just before things go all black, we’re seeing sights and scenes of the true North Korea. They’re trying to keep us from seeing that en route to the outcrops.
This new bus has some sort of electronic tint-control gizmo for the windows. However, if one has a pair of polarizing sunglasses, as all good field geologists do, you see right past that and can view the passing scenery unencumbered.
I return from a quick beer-recycling loo trip and am amused to see 10 Western scientists, sitting in a blacked-out bus, all wearing polarizing sunglasses.
It was just the surreal note this trip needed as we left the confines of the capital city.
We traveled north, and the empties pile began to grow. We had a few trash bags we had liberated from the hotel, but the shiny suits were very insistent that every empty can, bottle, and bag, yes they had beer in bags…had to be repatriated to a box in the far back of the bus.
Evidently, they either were paid a bounty on each container or were accountable for each vessel. They were soon to realize just the capacity for drink that a group of 11 seasoned very Senior Field Geologists, and one stowaway geologist-in-training can amass.
As we ply our way northward, we see the agricultural side of North Korea. The contrast between rural areas and the capital was striking. There were miles of rice paddies being harvested by people with sickles in their hands. And no cars on the highway. It was most destabilizing for this Westerner.
I think we saw a maximum of three tractors, as most of the work was done with ox power, there was very little evidence of rural electrification. Oh, hold on. We saw many more tractors, I should correct that: we saw three running and not rusted into oblivion tractors.
The farmers we see are using equipment that is quite literally medieval - single-share plows pulled by large, cranky bovines; sweeping sickles to bring in the harvest, and twin-engine, bilateral, botanical-fired ox-carts to transport it. It’s hard to believe that this third-world level of poverty exists in the same country that’s capable of building rockets, nuclear weapons, and tall, well-appointed hotels.
But when we stop at a motorway service station for fuel - a bizarre alien spaceship-like building squatting over the empty carriageways - we do encounter a jangmadang, or semi-official market. Here they are selling cans of knock-off Vietnamese Red Bull and Malaysian-made King Cobra™ Cola.
It reminds me of Russia right after the wall fell. Off the Trans-Siberian Railway in Krasnoyarsk, the Gateway to Eastern Siberia. You can buy Chinese hams, Chinese sodas, Chinese knock-off liquor, and those bloody delicious little bullets of Vitamin-C, Chinese mandarins.
Here, it’s similar. You can get most anything you desire, except it isn’t of Korean manufacture. That stuff is even too shitty to pawn off on tourists.
Instead, it’s knock-off Malaysian, Chinese, or Indonesian beer, wine, or soft drinks.
“Tiger-brand energy drink. Now with 40% more real tiger.” Here? I believe them.
Vodka from everywhere not known for its vodka distilling prowess. Rural hotel shops sell nastily stale crisps, gummy gummies, filling-ripping ‘chewy’ taffy or caramel, and biscuits with a severely limited choice. Rural hotels do not have full electricity so beer is warm and often tossed on the table, waiting for tourists to arrive - as is the food. We were warned to be prepared for cold rice, cold fish, cold potato – and plenty of kimchi and tofu.
Back on the road again, we’re passing small burgs that are not on any of our maps; even the ones we traded for back in the hotel that are specially marked: “For Internal Use ONLY!”.
They were amazingly the same. Clean. Bright. Uncluttered. And attended by cadres of prim, uniform-clad, though non-military people. They were all doing a day’s work keeping everything neat and clean.
There were no cars, trucks, forklifts…only rickshaws and ox-carts. However every one of these ‘towns’ were identical, and exactly, as Ivan pointed out, ‘X’ number of minutes apart.
“Watch! Is so!”, Ivan said. We passed one of these villages, and exactly 3 minutes later, an exact copy. Three minutes later? Another one. 3 more minutes? Xerox-city.
“What the fuck?” Dax asked.
“Potemkin village.” Comrade Dr. Academician Ivan replied.
A Potemkin village is any construction, literal or figurative, whose sole purpose is to provide an external façade to a country which is faring poorly. It is for making people believe that the country is faring better, although statistics and data would suggest otherwise.
“Russia pioneered the process,” Ivan noted with no small amount of pride. “During Cold War with West, entire cities were built, moved, raised, and razed. Ever hear of Krasnoyarsk-25? Atomic Research City? Supposed place of weapons study and manufacture. Huge ‘accident’. Entire city demolished, total populace relocated supposedly, after massive nuclear calamity.”
“Is that true? Cliff asks.
“No. Not at all.” Ivan smiles, “Deliberate misinformation. At least for K-25. It was diversion for actual towns where accidents; nuclear, biological, or worse, had happened. West so concerned about K-25 because it was big, near big capital city of Krasnoyarsk and suitably located out in the taiga. Easy to spot, easy to watch. Kept Western satellites busy while real towns of I-33, U-10, and AR-13 out in the forest were quietly demolished and people relocated or mass buried after some horrible, horrible accidents...”
“You think it’s the same here?” I asked Ivan.
“No, Dr. Rock”, Ivan smiled, and helped himself to my freshly constructed, but untouched, Yorshch, “This is all fake and bluster. Make West think everything is all A-OK, is that right idiom?”
“Yep.” I reply, “Precisely.”
“Make West believe all is OK and green”, as he winks at me, “And bustling and growing. Cover up what is real case here. We all see it and we see right through. Shoddy even for Asians.”
We all had to snicker and smirk as the shiny suit squad, who sat up at the front of the bus, and were not supposed to be listening; reacted like every cell in their bodies were just hit with a drop of pure lemon juice.
“Comrade Dr. Academician. Decorum, please.” I snickered.
“Oh, fuck them!”, Ivan replied, “I am old Russian. They try and pull burlap over my eyes? St. Petersburg? Moscow? Krasnoyarsk.? I’ve been there, seen them. They think this display of tawdriness…Even goofy American and Canadian can see the fakes they are. Britisher? I’m not so sure…”
“Damn, Doctor., I said to Ivan, “You’re just making friends all over the planet today.”
We all knew it was in jest; but the shiny suit squad certainly had their feathers ruffled and either didn’t care or wanted us to know we were under their observation.
“Fuck them twice”, Ivan said, “Ask them for bottle opener. I’m too lazy to search for my field jackknife.”
I hand him my pocket Leatherman and he pries the top of another bottle of ‘Budveiser’ beer.
“They can’t even make fake the name correctly”, he smirks and drains the bottle.
‘Town’ after ‘town’ and even that parade gets uninteresting. We’re headed north and finally come to a crossroads.
The bus driver, who must be a regular paranoid-maniac because he actually stopped to look for oncoming traffic, which we have seen precisely none since leaving the capital city, made a hard right. We’re heading back and up into the hills, leaving the bright lights of the big city far behind.
After an hour or so of driving, we pull off to the left-hand side of the road.
“Rock, Ivan, Cliff…holy shit, look at this!” Dax was uncharacteristically excited.
It was an open field that leads to a series of low outcrops of polychromatic, obviously sedimentary rocks. Magentas, greens, purples, rust-reds, browns, blacks, olive greens…holy shit. A real sedimentary pile.
We filed out of the bus with our field gear. The shiny suit squad started in with a bullhorn.
“You will wait for tour guides!”
“You will listen to group leaders!”
“You will not stray from the designated paths set up…”
No one heard them as the group of 11 remaining Western geoscientists were already across the highway and hieing for the exposures like outcrop-seeking multiple-warhead re-entry vehicles.
“You must wait!” we heard from exasperated voices back at the bus. “You must stop!”
“You must piss off!” Cliff said, “This is what we’ve been waiting over two weeks to see!”
“They are very angry with us”, Myung-dae the young Korean geologist said. “I find that just too bad.”
“And you are?” I asked.
Myung-dae Soo, the young Korean geologist, introduced himself.
“Well”, I said, “Welcome aboard. I’m Dr. Rock.”
“They are very, very angry”, he repeats.
“So? Are you tagging along to give them internal reports?” I asked.
“No, Doctor”, he replied, “I too am a geologist. I want to get away from those assholes and see some real rocks.”
“Who are you with?” I ask, “What group?”
“I am 5th-year student at Pyongyang College. I am not officially here. We were told in class that you were coming. I decided to see if I could join you. This morning, I was standing by bus and they thought I was hotel worker or orderly. I was given cooler full of beer and told to find place for it on the bus. I did and after that, just stayed in the back. I am stowaway. I am ashamed, but I had to see for myself. But, I like Western field trips so far!”
“No shit? Well, then”, I said, “Double welcome aboard. None of this ‘I am ashamed’ shit. You’re a geologist, but you haven’t even worked through your first field-evening get-together with us. But this is no pleasure cruise. It’s real work, real geology, real serious science shit. You savvy?”
“Yes, sir, Doctor Rocknocker from Sultanate in the Middle East.” Myung-dae smiled.
“And you fucking stay close to me”, I smirked.
I fired a couple of BLAAATS! from my portable air horn.
“Field Meeting! Field Meeting! Assholes & Elbows!” I called aloud.
Everyone gathered within earshot.
“OK, guys, here’s the deal. We do not know how long we’ve got here. So, let’s split up into teams. Geophysicists, go do your structural thing. Stratigraphers? Field relations. Geologists? Let’s go talk to some ronery-rooking-rocks. No offense, Mr. Myung.”
Myung-dae was laughing up a storm. He got that reference. He later told us all around the campfire he thought ‘Team America’ was a “fucking hilarious movie.”
Oh, we are going to be a real bad influence on this poor kid.
The groups spontaneously broke up into 4 or 5 sub-groups. They headed for areas they thought were important and they were photographing, measuring, pounding on rocks, and arguing within minutes.
“No, you idiot! It’s continental. Look at those adhesion ripples.”
“The fuck you know. It’s only a little low-level eggbeater tectonics. Where the fuck would you get continental collision-size energy around here?”
“Oh, the fuck you say. It’s non-marine. Those are mud cracks. Look at the sandy aeolian infill, fer chrissake.”
Formal? Proper? Detached Doctors of Geology?
Not when you’re in the field. It all goes out the window when different opinions collide like subducting plates.
“The music of my people!” I said to Morse.
“I thought that was the ‘Safety Dance’?” he chided.
“We’re a big family. We can have more than one.” I snickered.
We’re wandering around the site, with individual purpose.
We are looking for or looking at items of interest.
We’re hacking at the outcrops.
We’re all looking at…things.
It’s hard to describe. Get a load of geologists or geology students out of the office, lab, or classroom; stick them out on a bare expanse of heavily weathered rock and it’s simply…numinous.
We’re rebuilding worlds here.
This rock says this.
This rock says that.
And you’re not fluent in that dialect. Here, let me interpret for you…
We’re at each other’s throats, in the academic-metaphorical sense. Tempers have been known to run hot. There has been the occasional bloody nose or rocks sailing down an outcrop without the obligate “HEADACHE!” call. Hammers and Marsh Picks have ended up swimming without the owner’s knowledge.
But once we’re back; settled in the hotel room, tavern, or around the campfire, we’re all a Band of Brothers again. It’s an odd thing to watch; as if you’re not of the clan, you’d need an interpreter. It defies all boundaries: political, sexual, educational, geographical, linguistic, social, et cetera.
We’re all geologists first. We share the common scientific bond of Geology.
That’s why Geology is the First Science.
Plus we tend to drink a serious fucking whole bloody awful lot.
We’ve all been on that ‘crawlin’ home puker’.
We’ve also been to the ends of the earth: the deepest depths, the highest heights, we deal with the greatest pressures, the hottest temperatures; we’ve been to the mountain, we’ve seen the elephant, and we’ve held a bear’s nose to dogshit.
We wear the scars attained in our travels like badges of honor.
We’re God-Damned Scientists.
Back off, man. Geologist comin’ through.
Anyways, I’m looking at the bedding-plane boundaries between the purple unit and the underlying olive-green unit. The upper unit it looks, to me, continental in origin. Fluvial, perhaps. The lower unit is much finer-grained. Marine mudstone, perhaps? But what age?
The cadged Korean Geological maps are worse than useless. They never would go down to the outcrop scale. Consulting them, they don’t even note these exposures in a field sense.
Myung-dae, who is working about 35 meters down-section from me calls out, “Doctors! Sirs! Look here! I’ve found something!”
We all wander over as he is hacking away at the dusty, eroded rock. He stands and dusts off his find.
It’s a very large, nearly 1-meter diameter, coiled fossil cephalopod.
I wander over for a closer look. Dax, Cliff, Morse, and Ivan do as well.
“Blimey! Will you look at that? Outstanding, Mr. Myung!” Cliff says.
“Well, that confirms it. This layer, at least, is marine. Look at that suture pattern”, I say, dusting off an unweathered bit.
“Look at the radius of coiling.”, Cliff joins in.
We’re slowly wresting information out of this silent witness.
“Ornamentation?”, Dr. Ivan asks. “Knobs, bosses, and excrutions?” Oh, yes.”
In unison, we declare: “Hyphoplites!”
Morse adds, “And therefore…these rocks are middle Cretaceous. Marine. Not bad…”
“Need to get some samples for geochemical analysis. Dig deep, gentlemen, we need unweathered samples for TOC (Total Organic Carbon) content.”, Dr. Erlen Meyer notes.
With that, we have a relative age of the rock, a good idea of its depositional environment, and therefore extent, ideas of field relationships, and an indication of some of its fauna.
Could it be source rock worthy?
Samples? Best get diggin’, Beaumont.
That unit is right smack in the middle of this pile of rocks. Dax and I will work up-section and Ivan and Cliff will work down-section. We’re going to see what lies above, what lies below, what trends we can discern, and develop an idea of what happened here some 100 million years ago.
This is what happens when you get geologists out in the field with the proper amounts of field gear, outcrops, and alcohol.
Overall, the deeper down-section, and therefore, earlier in geological time you go, the more marine the rocks are. Conversely, the higher you go in the column, i.e., up-section, into younger rocks, the more continental it appears.
We find fragments of marine fish fossils, sea-crocodile scutes and teeth, heaps of mosasaur coprolites, i.e., fossil shit piles, and other indications that the lower, older rocks are Lower Cretaceous ocean basin-fill.
But up higher; we find mud cracks, rain prints, land turtle shells, land-snails (Bellerophontid gastropods), and what may actually be a fossil feather. All indications of a more continental, i.e., fluvial (river), floodplain, lacustrine (lake), and paludal (swamp) deposition.
That’s my particular bailiwick.
I’m ‘elephant walking’ along the upper outcrops looking for fossils. You basically bend over at the waist and sweep from left to right as you take exaggerated step after step, scanning the ground looking for…well…it takes years, but once you see it, you never forget it.
“Fossil sign”.
A disjunct endemism. Something not in situ. Something out of place. A bit of a different, out of context color. Out of context texture. Out of context size. Out of context context.
Something that looks like it shouldn’t ought to be there.
I’m picking up 1 cm. square hunks of what look like an ordinary rock. I taste them. Well, I stick them to my tongue. If it liquefies and runs away, it’s ordinary mudstone, shale, or the like.
If it sticks…well, it might just be fossil bone.
“PTWTWOO!”
“Damn right, Rock”, Cliff says from behind me, “Fucking North Korea tastes terrible.”
“Still, it’s the best way I know to…” I paused.
“Got something?” Cliff asked.
“Look here.” I said, “Anthill. Big, nasty buggers. Look around the edges. Pieces of flat, cream-colored rock on this gaudy purple stuff. Tongue test? They stick like cockleburs. Let’s look upslope, see if there’s a drainage…”
There it was, a nice little drainage incised about 1.5 meters deep into the nearly horizontal rocks we were walking on.
“Any float?” I asked.
“Not yet,” Cliff said.
We followed the weak, little drainage that was cut into the outcrop, up another couple of meters.
There were very scrappy, very small, very scattered pieces of that same cream-colored rock. Some were ornamented with a scroll-work or some sort of striations. Most un-geological. More biological. We followed the trail, up here, around here, over there.
Cliff noticed it first, a soccer-ball sized lump of completely out-of-place crème-colored ‘rock’ working its way out by gradual erosion of the variegated pastels of the continental rocks upon which we were treading.
I got there first and began to clear the area with my Estwing.
“Careful. Careful”, Cliff admonished.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. Mind your Mincies. [Mince pies = eyes]”, as I’m swinging away at the reluctant, reticent, rocks.
The excavation grew, slowly. From the rounded dome, we could see small sutures that had developed…
Then condyles, fenestrae, then more ‘bone’. Then a jaw, teeth, vertebrae…
“HOLY DOUBLE-DAMN SHIT!” I tootled my air horn. We needed the group to see this.
It was a skull. A dinosaur skull. A small, non-avian dinosaur skull.
Everyone has crowded around and looked at the small quarry we had just built.
“Whatcha got, Rock? Cliff?” Joon asked.
“Fuck me, but I think we’ve got us a dinosaur skull,” I said.
Professor Doctor Academician Ivan walked over and cleared the area.
As Professor Emeritus, he had pole position priority.
“I agree.” is all he said.
I cleared the area and let others take a whack at opening up the quarry.
We may have been low on power tools, but we had a surfeit of opinions.
“OK,” I said, “Let’s look at the facts…”
  1. Age? Cretaceous. Probably lower to lower-middle Cretaceous.
  2. Continental deposits. That’s very fine sand we’re hacking away. Fluvial, without a doubt. Or, possibly aeolian; there’s no such thing as a geological certainty. Dunes? Ephemeral creeks? Low floodplain? Geo-talk… .
  3. Small size. Potentially a juvenile?
  4. Nope. Not a juvie. Sutures are closed, fused. This is, well was, an adult; perhaps a subadult, given its size.
  5. In situ? In place? Or washed in?
Hard to tell when all you’ve exposed is half the critter’s brain box.
“Look at that!” Myung-dae exclaimed, “Squamosal bones and the inner parietals…temporal fenestrae. It had a frill; a small one.”
“OK,”, I said, looking closely at the exposed scrappy remains, “Fucking-A Bubba. Nailed it.” I said, giving him the thumbs up.
“Ceratopsian. Look at those greens-grinder molars. There’s some small osteoderms on the skull; knobby old bastard. Early critter.” I continued.
Others looked around and confirmed my observations.
“Reminds me of Protoceratops from when I was back in Mongolia,” I said.
Dax chimed in with, “Looks something like Psittacosaurus from back in the Cretaceous Belly River of Canada.”
Drs. Ivan and Morse agree. “Most assuredly. It is definitely proto-ceratopsian. Young adult, as Dr. Rock notes by the cranial sutures. Do they have a record of proto-ceratopsians here?”
Myung-dae replies, “I have read reports of Korean proto-ceratopsian found in South Korea. Not long ago, 2019, it is called…ah… Auroraceratops. It is a genus of bipedal basal neo-ceratopsian dinosaur.”
“Bipedal?” I query. “Well, there’s a fine how do you do. All the proto-ceratopsians I’ve known were obligate quadrupeds.”
“Well”, Ivan, Dax, Cliff, and Morse agree, “That should give the shiny suit squad something to report. That’ll keep them the hell out of our hair for a while.”
We photograph each step as we excavate the critter. It’s more or less in situ, buried where it fell. Probably killed by a sand slip off a dune, or a river sandbar slip and burial. It’s not complete, but we do have the skull and a good portion of the post-cranial elements to about just before the pelvis. A good pectoral girdle, skull, jaw, frill, forelimbs, forefeet…easily half-a cute little herbivorous dinosaur. About the size of a smallish Highland Coo or large Great Dane.
We flag it with the team particulars, it’s GPS position, and carefully rebury the animal. We don’t have any of the equipment nor time to excavate it properly, but we can conserve it. Of course, we’ll be informing the proper authorities of our discovery.
I have an absolutely ancient Polaroid instant camera. Before re-internment, I take several pictures of our “Koreasaurus”, as we’ve dubbed the animal, with items for scale; like a hammer, cigar, and oddly enough, a photographic scale. Then I get a photo of the whole crew standing around, drinking warm beers from their individual day packs, smiling about the find ‘they‘ made.
We hear the melodious tootle of the bus’s horns. We make sure to pack out all our trash and wander back to our terrestrial transport.
“You were gone too long!” the chief shiny suited character goes all ballistic on me.
“Watch yourself, Herr Mac.”, I calmly said, “You’re going to burn your nose on my cigar.”
“You left without your handlers…err…guides!” he fumed.
“Hey, Scooter. Cool out. We’re geologists. We never get lost.” I said.
It sometimes just takes us longer to get back than it took us to leave…
“Your impertinence will be reported.” He smoldered.
“Report this, Mother Chuckler”, I observed and held out the pictures of our newly discovered Koreasaurus.
“Show those photos to your handlers,” I said in a mocking tone. “We found a brand new species of God-damned dinosaur for you geezers. It took us less than two hours. You can spin it that it’s a new, never-before-seen species of very specialized dinosaur found right here in beautiful Korea del Norte. Be quite the scientific coup, don’t you think? Trust us. We won’t say anything.”
He immediately shut up and went into conference with the rest of the shiny suit squad.
“Doctor”, one of the clan covert asked, “This is a new dinosaur?”
I had a thunderbolt of an idea.
“Oh! Yes, it is. I’d stake my reputation on it. You’ve had no concerted search here for the beasts and well, with the normalizing of relations between your country and the world, it allowed your specialists to perform real science. In fact, on the bus is the young North Korean geoscientist who made the discovery.” I said. “Give me a minute. I’ll go and get him. I think he was off taking a shi…ah, using the lavatory. Just give me a minute.”
I did have an idea. A wonderful idea. A wonderfully evil idea.
Back on the bus, I ordered the doors closed.
“Gentlemen! Ears and eyes! Please.” I said loudly.
Continuing…
“The shiny suits have their knickers all a-twist because we don’t want to listen to them; the assholes. Fuck that. I’ve got an idea. Let’s make our young acolyte here, Mr. Myung-dae Soo, a national hero. He would probably get his ass in a crack for sneaking on board the Western bus today the way he did. Well, double fuck that. Let’s all say he found the dinosaur. Let him take the glory for the homeland. No one else will ever need to know.” I said smiling.
“Fuck Yeah! You bet! Замечательное! Ihmeellisiä! Maravilhoso! Geweldig!”
Good to know we’re all on the same page. Geologists. You can always count on them…
“Mr. Myung-dae Soo? Front and center. Time to go and become ‘Hero of Best Korea’.” I smiled.
He was absolutely terrified.
“Doctor…I …don't…wait…no…” he stammered.
Cliff, Dax, Ivan, and I trotted him out to confront the shiny suit squad.
“Don’t worry, Myung. We’ve got your back. Trust us.” I said in a low conspiratorial tone.
The shiny suit squad turned as one and gave Mr. Myung the Stink Eye treatment.
“Here you go. The man of the hour. Mr. Myung-Dae Soo, young geologist and up and coming paleontologist.” I say loudly and with the utmost honor.
They look at him and the Korean erupts in rapid-fire staccato bursts.
Cliff just wanders in and interjects, “Yes. Righto. Top form. Found the float. Tracked down that dino like he was on safari. Highest marks. Good man!”
Dax adds more fuel to the fire. “Like he knew where to go, knew where to look. He’s a natural.”
Dr. Academician Ivan blustered forth: “Excellent scholar. Excellent field man. Banner geologist.”
I couldn’t have added more. The shiny suit squad was gobsmacked.
I asked Myung-dae what they were saying.
“They were talking about reprisals. Reporting to authorities. Then, they stopped. You have them completely confounded.” He said.
“How so?” I asked, quietly.
“Between an international incident where we don’t listen to our handlers and this potential important scientific discovery.” Mr. Myung-dae reported, trying hard to parse the evolving situation.
“Yes”, I added to Ivan’s bluster.
To the shiny suits: “I’ve worked as visiting Dinosaurian Vertebrate Paleontology Curator at all the major American museums. This is a find quite unlike anything known. It is a watershed discovery. It will help unravel the evolution and distribution of the clan Dinosauria for the whole Korean Peninsula. Perhaps, even with international impact on the recent finds in China.”
I laid it on with a trowel.
I hit all the buzzwords.
“Yes. Yes, perhaps.”, the head shiny-suiter said. “I will report this bit of very good news to the proper authorities. Myung-dae, with us. We require more information.”
“Ah, we’d prefer him to ride in back with us if you don’t mind. Scientific courtesy, old man. He needs to be classically de-interviewed after such a find.” I insisted, making certain I stand as tall, wide, and menacing as possible while smiling like a damned Cheshire cat, one smoking a very large cigar.
“Very well. We are not far from our evening stop. We can talk later.” He agreed.
We all moseyed, laughing silently, back to the bus; literally supporting our young hero Mr. Myung-dae as he seemed to have gone all wobbly of late.
Myung-dae was ashen-white. He looked like he had just given birth to a basketball. He was visibly shaking.
We get on the bus and I whip up a stout Yorshch for the young hero of the hour.
“Here! This is for you. If you’re going to be a world-class geologist, you’d damn sure better start acting like one.” I smile broadly.
There were hoots, cheers, and cat-calls.
Beers were popped, bottles uncorked; cigars, cigarettes, and pipes lit.
“Damn Skippy!” some anonymous reveler added.
Myung-dae slurped a good half the drink. I offered him a cigar. He stopped shaking enough to accept the novel offer.
Remember “crawlin’ home puker”? He’s taken his first step into a larger world.
OK, just to recap. Here are the dramatis personae left on the bus…
Bus driver (Kim) and his relief (Won).
My team and I. That’s 11 Western geoscientists: Morse, Cliff, Volna, Ack, Viv, Graco, Erlen, Dr. Academician Ivan, Joon, Dax, and myself.
Then there are our guides: Yuk, No, Man, and Kong.
Our stowaway hero geologist-in-training: Myung-dae Soo, aka, “Mung”.
And the four members of the shiny suit clan: Pak, Mak, Tak, and Jak. At least, that’s the names we used when we addressed them.
The bus was rumbling down the deserted highway. We were headed more or less due east, passing the occasional Potemkin Village. They knew we cracked their code long ago, so they didn’t bother with darkening the windows any longer.
We are passing a series of highway road cut outcrops. We’re only going approximately 35 or 40 miles per hour. Suddenly, Morse jumps out of his seat and runs up to the driver.
“STOP! STOP! Back up! We almost missed it!” he barks in heavily Russian inflected English.
The driver, shaken to the core, just slams on the brakes. The bus grinds to a stop. Good thing there’s no traffic out here.
Or anywhere else, for that matter.
Jak of the suit clan jumps up and asks “What is the problem?”
“How could you miss that?” Morse shouts. “Huge fault. Mineralization. I saw that from a glimpse. We must return to investigate.”
“Is not possible. We have appointment at the hotel.” Jak replies.
“Fuck that!”, Morse shouts. I guess he’s just really into faults…
I wander up and try to defuse the situation.
“OK, guys, cool out. Let’s be reasonable. Do it our way. Go back to that road cut. We spend a half-hour there then we go on to the hotel. The hotel will still be there when we arrive, won’t it? Even if we’re a bit late?” I ask.
Jak looks to Pak, who converses with Mak and Tak. They know they’re outgunned.
The driver shifts the bus into reverse and we back down the luckily deserted highway over a mile to the outcrop in question.
We had to admit, it was a mother beautiful normal fault. In perfect, textbook cross-section.
Morse and Joon were on it like white on rice; given the mineralization along the fault plane. All sorts of implications for the thermal and geological history of the area. But with just one exposure like this, more or less just a real interesting geo-oddity.
We spent precisely 30 minutes at the exposure, and when our handlers requested we re-board and head to the motel, we complied like nice, normal sort of folks.
I believe the appropriate maxim here is: “Lull them into a false sense of security…”
Once more down the road we travel. Beers popped, bottles uncorked; you know, the usual.
Forty-five minutes later, we pull into, I kid you not, a replica US of A 1950s Motor-Inn.
“Mr. Myung”, I ask, “What the hell is this?”
To be continued…
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Countdown to Kickoff 2020: Portland Timbers

Countdown to Kickoff 2020: Portland Timbers

Basic Info:

Club Name: Portland Timbers
Location: Portland, Oregon
Stadium: Providence Park. Beautiful timelapse of the recent renovations.
Head Coach: Giovanni Savarese (3rd year)
Captain: Diego Valeri
CEO/Majority Owner: Merritt Paulson
USL Affiliate: Timbers 2
Kits:

2019 in Review

Final Standings: 14-13-7 (W-L-D), 49 pts, +3 GD, 6th in the West
In one word, the 2019 Portland Timbers season was draining. It was an endurance test for the players. It was an endurance test for even the most ardent supporters. And it was certainly an endurance test for a Front Office that invested serious capital into organizational infrastructure. Bookended by snowy affairs in the Rocky Mountains, a year filled with tantalizing potential melted away, leaving a passionate (some might say capricious) fanbase searching for explanations. So, what went wrong?
Well, it was always going to be an uphill battle from the opening kick. Starting with the coldest game in MLS history in Colorado, the Timbers faced a daunting 12-match road trip to accommodate the impressive renovations to Providence Park’s East stand. After accumulating 1 pt from the first six matches, including blow out losses to both FC Cincinnati (!) and then-winless San Jose, the fanbase collectively smashed the panic button entering a match against ex-coach Caleb Porter and his Columbus Crew. However, for the next few months, we witnessed a different team and a different mentality. Three consecutive quality victories against Columbus, Toronto, and RSL brought the team back from the abyss. And a subsequent win against upstart Philadelphia saw Portland finish its road marathon at a respectable 14 points.
Suddenly, the narrative flipped. Pundits consistently listed the Timbers at the top of their power rankings, and with 17 of the final 22 matches at one of the best home-field advantages in MLS, it seemed the positive momentum would prevail indefinitely. More importantly though, the Timbers had found their final piece to the puzzle: an elite, ruthless, and fiery DP striker in Brian Fernandez. Fresh off an impressive campaign with Necaxa in Liga MX, the Argentine became the first player in history to score in five consecutive regular-season games to open an MLS career. His clinicality and intensity raised the level of the squad, leading Steve Clark to don the classic Michael Myers mask from Halloween, declaring Providence Park as a “House of Horrors” for the opponent.
But as it turned out, the team never truly reacclimated to the friendly confines of its home pitch. After four months (incl. preseason) away from home, the squad’s lethal counter-attacking style was far more suited for road matches which provided no impetus to play attractive soccer. Away victories at elite opponents including NYCFC, Seattle, and LAFC provided a stark contrast to disheartening home performances against the likes of Colorado, Orlando, and 10-man Chicago. And soon, the atmosphere off-the-field began to match the team’s sudden struggles on the pitch.
Political viewpoints aside, the Iron Front protests and Diego Valeri’s contract impasse ignited an already contentious relationship between the Timbers Army and FO. Meanwhile, as the squad racked up disappointing home results due to uninspired offensive play, home attendance began to waver more so than years past. While the home sell-out streak remains to this day, the increased number of empty seats in Providence Park was a pretty blunt indication of increased apathy towards the organization.
And then, there was the cherry on top. After missing consecutive matches due to a reported “stomach bug,” it became pretty clear Brian Fernandez was not the same player he was in the early summer. With a complicated and somber family history, Fernandez had struggled with substance abuse issues in the past but seemed to be on the path to full recovery during recent years. However, in October, Fernandez entered the league’s Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program, and just as his story arc in green-and-gold faded to black, the Timbers season finished with a whimper. Jefferson Savarino’s 87th-minute goal in snowy Utah knocked the Timbers out of Cup contention. Eleven months following an exciting run to MLS Cup, Portland entered the 2020 offseason weary, drained, and searching for a new beginning.

The Coach

Giovanni Savarese
I expected 2019 to provide more clarity on Giovanni Savarese’s coaching aptitude, but as I sit here one year later, I’m still left with more questions than answers. Gio’s passion and fervor was a refreshing juxtaposition to Caleb Porter’s often smug demeanor, but his far more conservative style still ruffles the feathers of fans who yearn for the days of “Porterball.” While Savarese implemented a high-pressing, dynamic, and open style during his time at the Cosmos, he has yet to find similar success doing so in the Rose City. The past two seasons have exhibited nearly the same progression: start the season trying to play pressing-style soccer, get beat badly, and then resort to a conservative, counter-attacking approach.
The truth of the matter is the conservative style fits the Portland Timbers. When the defense is solid, Diego Valeri and Sebastian Blanco are talented enough to win the game on the counter by themselves. However, this tactical inflexibility is essentially the sole on-field contributor for why the team struggled so mightily down the stretch. When teams packed it in and eliminated the possibility of counter-attacks, Portland could not break down the opposition, resorted to launching an MLS record number of crosses, and got scorched on counters going the other way. A taste of their own medicine if you will.
In 2020, Savarese has no excuse. There’s no road trip to start the season, he has a loaded arsenal of complimentary attacking weapons, and now it’s abundantly clear the Timbers must learn how to control games from the front foot. An identity is useful, but flexibility is a requirement to be great. The club wants to (has to) win now, and they’ve invested significantly into personnel and infrastructure to do so. Now, it’s up to Savarese to lead the team to silverware.

Departures

Brian Fernandez (ST): This one hurts. There are no two ways about it. Fernandez truly convinced GM Gavin Wilkinson and TD Ned Grabavoy that he was past his struggles, but unfortunately, it didn’t turn out to be the case. As Wilkinson stated in The Athletic, “if we could go back and do it again, we wouldn’t have done it,” adding “what I will say is the word fraud exists for a reason.” Rumors suggest Necaxa covered up a failed drug test, and MLS is currently launching a lawsuit to help the club recoup the transfer fee. While Wilkinson suggests Fernandez was a bust, the truth is he scored 15 goals in ~25 games in all comps, showing a ruthlessness in front of goal that rivaled the Martinez’s and Ruidiaz’s of the league. As people who have met him can attest, he’s a vibrant and kind individual regardless of the fact he continues to face difficult obstacles off the field. It's just such a disappointment that it didn’t all come together, and I pray for his health and safety.
Zarek Valentin (RB): This one hurts too. Zarek was a staple of the community, someone who embraced Portland as his home, and was as approachable as any professional athlete. With initiatives like wearing a rainbow ribbon in his hair to fundraise for homeless LGBT+ youth, Zarek was an ideal steward for the club and community. With our lack of fullback depth, leaving him unprotected in the expansion draft was far from a popular decision - one that strained an already frayed relationship between the Front Office and some fans. That said, as amazing as Zarek is, his lack of athleticism was starting to catch up to him. He even admitted some struggles down the stretch, and as more talented/athletic wingers enter the league, his minutes might soon reflect it. Zarek’s versatility, eccentricity, and civic involvement will certainly be missed though. Houston, you’ve got a great dude.
Claude Dielna (CB): The most puzzling move of 2019, it didn’t take an acute observer to recognize that Dielna struggled in MLS. Wilkinson and Grabavoy took a one-year flier on Dielna to be the 4th-stringer, and the outcome was fairly predictable. He possesses a silky left foot which allows him to pick sharp passes out of the back, but he can’t run, can’t jump, and can’t defend 1v1. All of those attributes are pretty essential requirements for playing CB in any league, so it’s no surprise to see the organization not renew his contract. In the end, I wouldn’t suggest Dielna self-immolated like many horrific Timbers CBs of yesteryear (see McKenzie, Raushawn), but I highly doubt anyone will be pining for his return.
Foster Langsdorf (ST): Langsdorf may be used as an example of a Homegrown the Timbers failed to move through the ranks, but letting him go makes sense (unfortunately.) In a 2019 season essential for his development, he failed to make any significant impact at the USL level, and at 24, he would’ve entered the 2020 campaign in the exact spot he did the previous two seasons. Despite some clever finishes in the 2018 USL season, he’s not a legitimate option for the first team in this day in age - especially when similarly-aged strikers Felipe Mora, Jaroslaw Niezgoda, and Jeremy Ebobisse boast far more developed skillsets.
Modou Jadama (CB/RB): Jadama made two total appearances for the first team over two seasons, including one start at RB at Montreal in 2019. To be frank, he didn’t particularly shine as an MLS-caliber player during that time, so his opportunity to cement himself in the organization’s plans came and went. Now at Atlanta United 2, I think he’ll be a good fit for a full-time USL position, although we probably could have used CB depth with Bill Tuiloma’s injury.
Kendall McIntosh (GK): McIntosh was an undersized goalkeeper whose frame and athleticism is reminiscent of the likes of Nick Rimando. For the most part, he was a career T2 netminder that was far too raw in some areas to mount a challenge against experienced keepers like Jeff Attinella and Steve Clark. Now a member of the Red Bulls via the Re-Entry Draft, I doubt McIntosh finds many more minutes outside of the USL, but he seemed like a good dude and we all wish him the best.

2020 Outlook:

So, where does that leave us for the 2020 season? Well, pretty close to the same spot we found ourselves last year. In the preceding two seasons, it was clear the Timbers possessed enough talent to capture silverware, yet surpassing the final hurdle proved to be too much. As a result, continuity in terms of roster management remains among the league’s most stable. Ultimately, Portland took the field March 3 in Colorado with 10 of the 11 starters from MLS Cup the previous December, and this season, the only departure considered a surefire starter was Brian Fernandez.
However, the main difference in 2020 comes down to the acquisitions. The Timbers FO utilized the abnormally long break to load up with an arsenal of talent, providing a stark divergence from the quiet transfer window in 2019. As much as I want to compliment the FO for its hard work this offseason, acquiring fresh blood was essential. Key pieces of the core including Larrys Mabiala, Diego Chara, Sebastian Blanco, and Diego Valeri are all exiting their prime window, and the Timbers must capitalize before that window slams shut. Consequently, four of the five names you’ll see listed in the acquisitions section below were brought in to have an immediate impact and elevate an already talented squad.
As a result, in terms of pure on-paper talent, this is a Top 5 caliber MLS team. Whether Savarese can coalesce that talent into a functioning, dynamic, and successful unit is an entirely different story however. It honestly feels like a boom-or-bust type season, and I’m worried about how they’ll navigate the natural roller-coaster swings that MLS’s parity generates. So, I’ll leave you with this: if the Timbers figure out how to maintain defensive structure without resorting to a conservative shell, they’ll be one of the best teams in the league. If not, all bets are off.

Acquisitions:

Jarosław Niezgoda (ST): The Polish DP doesn’t have to single-handedly replace Brian Fernandez’s goal contributions, but make no mistake about it, the Timbers brought Niezgoda in to make an immediate and profound impact on the scoresheet. At only 24, Jarek arrives with a high pedigree having notched double-digit goals in multiple seasons for one of Poland’s powerhouses in Legia Warsaw. Ultimately, it makes sense European clubs like Bordeaux and Torino were sniffing around the striker, as he’s quite mobile for his size, can finish well with both feet, and is clever with his movements inside the box. And say what you will about the Ekstraklasa, it has a strange knack for producing efficient goalscorers, including Niezgoda’s Legia predecessor Nemanja Nikolic.
However, there is a massive catch: Niezgoda has struggled with injuries throughout his career. In a league famous for physical play, and on a team that has experienced its fair share of injury-riddled seasons, Jarek’s fitness is a legitimate concern. While his congenital heart issues seem to be held in check, Legia fans are quick to mention “he's made of glass, and it's hard to keep him in shape for the whole season.” The Timbers’ physio staff will have their work cut out for them to keep Niezgoda on the pitch and scoring goals.
Note: Niezgoda has yet to feature in preseason due to the recovery timeline from a heart ablation procedure during his medical. We likely won’t see him in the XI for the first few weeks of 2020.
Felipe Mora (ST): Niezgoda’s injury-checkered past is an important factor for why Mora’s arrival is such a critical addition. The 26-year-old Chilean seemingly fell into the Timbers lap in a series of fortuitous circumstances, as they acquired him on a TAM loan deal from Pumas in Liga MX. Normally, Mora would be a DP caliber acquisition, and in fact, he was considered a serious target for the final DP slot last year before the club opted for Fernandez. However, after falling out of favor, Pumas were willing to let him go in a manner that accommodated Portland’s limited remaining budget space. Mora provides a divergent style from Niezgoda’s channel-running and Ebobisse’s hold-up ability. He operates on a true poacher’s instinct, and his industrious approach will provide a complementary presence to any of the other strikers.
Dario Župarić (CB): If there’s one offseason acquisition that is more critical to the team's success than the others, Dario Župarić is that guy. Throughout the Timbers MLS history, CB has easily been their most troublesome spot, and they’ve yet to replace Liam Ridgewell’s contributions since his departure last year. Say what you will about Liam’s off-the-field persona: his magnetism, leadership, organizational skills, and distribution were undoubtedly influential to the club’s performance.
Župarić, for lack of a better statement, is essentially the true Ridgewell replacement. At 27-years-old, the Croatian arrives with 90+ matches under his belt at Pescara in Italy and Rijeka in Croatia, a club that has already produced productive MLS players like Héber and Damir Kreilach. Early reports in training regard him as “smooth and confident,” and even if that confidence has gotten the better of him occasionally, those characteristics exemplify why Gio had never received “more messages from friends saying you’ve brought in a very good player.” In the end though, the pressure is on Dario to perform on the pitch. MLS athleticism poses a unique challenge, and there’s little flexibility to compensate for any struggles. His adjustment to MLS must be quick.
Yimmi Chara (RM): Recognize the last name? In a courtship that has lasted as long as the Timbers MLS era itself, Wilkinson finally brought the youngest Chara brother to the Rose City. Acquired as a DP from Atletico Mineiro, there is concern about whether Yimmi’s G+A output will justify the reported $6 million transfer fee. Throughout his career, he’s never been the type of player to light up the scoresheet, but it’s difficult to dispossess him and he provides lightning-quick pace that this roster lacks. With multiple attacking options, I honestly don’t anticipate much pressure to fill the stat sheet, and his familial connection to the organization should facilitate a more seamless transition. Plus, it’s difficult enough for the opposition to face one Chara - it’ll certainly be a pain in the ass to confront two.
Blake Bodily (LM): The HG left-footer is a fairly highly-regarded prospect coming out of the Pac-12, and he showed flashes of quality during his time at T2 a few years ago. With the depth on the wings, I can’t imagine he’ll see much of any first-team minutes. I could be wrong, especially if things go south for any reason, but let’s revisit this signing a year or two from now.

A word on everyone else:

Goalkeepers:
Steve Clark (GK): Without a doubt, Clark was the surprise player of 2019. Boasting the highest save percentage and second-lowest GAA in the league, Clark made numerous highlight-reel saves after taking over for Jeff Attinella in late April. While the occasional mental lapse defined much of his career up to this point, the 33-year-old was nearly flawless in all phases of play last season. However, there’s legitimate concern that this outstanding form is not replicable throughout the next campaign. After Attinella’s regression to the mean following a career year, one can understand why the Front Office might have been apprehensive to give him a sizable pay raise - even if his performances warranted it. That said, Clark’s got the new deal in his pocket and will certainly be the starter opening day vs Minnesota.
Jeff Attinella (GK): As highlighted above, few Timbers had a more ill-fated 2019 campaign than Jeff Attinella. After a torrid 2018 season, Attinella’s performances were marred by poor decision after poor decision until his year concluded with season-ending shoulder surgery. You have to feel for the guy too, as for the first time in his career, he entered an MLS regular season as the unquestioned starter. We’ll see how he recovers from the shoulder injury, but if Clark’s consistency remains and Aljaž Ivačič shows promise, I wouldn’t be shocked if the Timbers move him while he still has some value.
Aljaž Ivačič (GK): If there’s a Timber who had a more disastrous 2019 than Jeff Attinella though, it’s probably Aljaž Ivačič. The 26-year-old Slovenian was acquired last offseason to be the goalkeeper of the future, but a significant leg surgery last February took him out of team activities for most of the year. When he did return with T2 in late summer, things did not look great to say the least. It is undoubtedly difficult to adapt to a new country, but Ivačič’s struggles were worryingly apparent. Most of his goals conceded for T2 looked similar to this, where he was either in the wrong position, extremely hesitant to come off his line, or strikingly late to react to the opponent. These are fundamental issues that can hopefully be chalked up to rust and then addressed with a full preseason. If not, Aljaž might go down as one of the worst signings in club history.
Defenders:
Jorge Moreira (RB): Moreira possesses the talent to be the best RB in the league, but sporadically found himself a liability last season. After years spent with Argentine powerhouse River Plate, the 30-year-old Paraguayan was naturally inclined to push up the pitch since his teams had often dominated the game’s flow. As a result, the Timbers’ conservative style and league’s athleticism caught him off guard, as he had an unfortunate propensity to be out of position early in 2019. However, he mostly adjusted over the course of the year, and his power, crossing ability, and dynamism are crucial to the team.Even with the occasional poor clearance, Moreira is a lockdown starter and few RBs in MLS have his offensive weaponry and pedigree. His loan only lasts until June 30 however, though I’d fully expect the Front Office to lock him down on a permanent deal.
Update: the Timbers right-side defense has been tragic this preseason, and much of that has to do with Moreira’s play. He’ll have to re-adjust or else he’ll revert back to being a liability again
Larrys Mabiala (CB): With his pearly-white smile, cool demeanor, and commanding aerial ability, the big French-Congolese CB is one of the most respected players in the Timbers’ locker room. In a position that is a perennial revolving door of underperforming wreckage, Mabiala has been the one “written-in-ink” starter since mid-2017, and his veteran savvy is integral to the squad’s success. But at age 32, Larrys’ value is not embodied by his individual qualities but more so the partnership he forms with Župarić. His physical presence will always be vital to an otherwise undersized team, however, he lacks the turn of pace and distribution ability that would place him among the elite CBs in MLS. As a result, Larrys and Dario must discover how to paper over each other’s weaknesses by performing to their unique capabilities: Župarić covers ground well and can initiate attacking movements while Mabiala handles physical strikers and cleans up loose balls in the 18. In the end, his consistency will be as influential as any player on the roster. If for any reason he performs below the norm, there is simply not enough quality depth behind him to overcome it.
Bill Tuiloma (CB): Tuiloma is not spectacular by any means, but he’s an ideal player to provide sporadic minutes. The 24-year-old Kiwi is cheap, versatile, and possesses enough technical quality to score the odd banger. It’s a shame a calf injury will rule him out for the next few weeks, as the team could use his flexibility for spot duty at CB, RB, and even defensive midfield. If he recovers fully and Župarić struggles to adapt to the league’s athleticism, expect him to mount a challenge for starting minutes.
Julio Cascante (CB): The Costa Rican CB is best described as a high-ceiling, low-floor player whose ceiling continues to lower year after year. As far as backup CBs go, he’s probably adequate, but the guy went from a fringe national-teamer to virtually off-the-radar since his arrival in Portland. Though his height and build forge a formidable aerial presence, he’s yet to resolve occasional mental lapses and improve his subpar distribution. But Julio’s most maddening characteristic is his inconsistency. Perhaps the best thing you can say about a Cascante performance is that you didn’t notice him. Unfortunately, he tends to stick out for all the wrong reasons. Maybe a little more familiarity with the league will help the 26-year-old raise his level in 2020. I’m not exceedingly hopeful though.
Jorge Villafaña (LB): El Sueño hasn’t been the same player since his departure to Santos Laguna after MLS Cup 2015. Still an excellent crosser, Villafaña really struggled with pacey wingers towards the beginning of the season, although there are some whispers he was often gutting through minor knocks. Even with an uptick of form over the course of the campaign, there is legitimate concern he’s lost a step and will be a liability in the backline. I love the man as much as the next guy, but I’d say the uneasiness is valid. Let’s hope he proves us all wrong.
Marco Farfan (LB): The lack of confidence in Villafaña would be less of an issue if Zarek Valentin were still suiting up in the green-and-gold because Marco Farfan is as fragile as a potato chip. The HG LB is not the most athletic individual, but his technical quality is probably proficient enough to play at this level. Farfan still has to evolve as a 1v1 defender, though he’ll certainly get looks this year if he can manage to stay healthy.
Note: We still need a backup RB. It could be former NYRB, IMFC, and Dynamo player Chris Duvall. 20-year-old Venezuelan Pablo Bonilla is another option, but he’s at T2 for the meantime.
Midfielders:
Diego Valeri (CAM): When all is said and done, I hope MLS fans and media take a moment to appreciate just how good Diego Valeri was. Since 2015, we’ve witnessed impressive names take home the Landon Donovan MVP award including Giovinco, Villa, Josef, and Vela. Sandwiched in between those names you’ll find Diego Valeri. Only the ninth MLS player to reach the elusive 70G, 70A Club, Valeri took the Timbers from a hapless expansion side to a perennial playoff contender. And from my admittedly biased perspective, I don’t think he gets enough credit for doing so. But don’t take it from me, take it from Albert Rusnak, who accurately captures the true essence of the Maestro in this interview. For the miracles performed on the pitch, his importance and presence in the community are just as admirable.
However, times are changing for Valeri, and it’s best exemplified by the fact we almost lost him over a contract dispute this offseason. By taking a TAM deal, Diego not only affirmed his commitment to the organization but allowed them to make moves to best ensure he doesn’t retire with only a single major MLS title to his name. I’d expect the Timbers staff to exercise more load management with him this campaign, but by no means does that change his status as a pillar of the club and community. Build the statue.
Sebastian Blanco (LM/RM): Sebastian Blanco is one of those guys who never seems to score a bad goal. The fiery Argentine may not be the face of the franchise off the pitch, but the decision to extend his DP contract over Valeri is a hint towards Blanco’s importance on the field. After posting his second consecutive double-digit assist campaign, Blanco’s quality across all attacking midfield positions is unquestioned. That said, 2020 is a pivotal season for the Timbers’ oldest Designated Player. Soon to be 32, the clock is ticking on Blanco’s heyday, and he’ll certainly aspire to outperform 2019’s underwhelming tally of six goals from 106 shot attempts. Now surrounded by a wealth of complimentary attacking pieces though, I’d expect a rejuvenated Seba come March. Bet the over on six goals.
Diego Chara (CDM): If there’s anyone who can conquer the inevitability of fathertime, Diego Chara is the guy. Soon to be 34-years-old, Chara’s performance metrics — involving areas such as speed and distance covered — reached all-time highs last year. His importance to the club over the past decade cannot be overstated, and we were all ecstatic to see him finally partake in an MLS All Star Game last season. The Colombian possesses a pillowy first touch, an immense soccer IQ, and a fearless presence in the middle of the park, and there simply will be no replacing him when he finally does choose to retire. But to be honest with you, I think he’s still got a few more Best XI caliber seasons in him. He just ages like a fine wine.
Andrés Flores (CM): Hell, I’m just gonna copy and paste exactly what I wrote last year because it’s still just as applicable. Andres Flores is like a Toyota Camry - solid if unspectacular. He doesn't have the sexy style that will garner all the attention, but when push comes to shove and you need to get from point A to point B, he’ll do the job (at a very low price too!). Look for him to assist in spot-duty once he returns from injury, but his most important contributions will likely be found in the little things off the pitch.
Cristhian Paredes (CM): At only 21 years of age, the full Paraguayan international started over 30 matches the past two seasons and has also emerged as the surefire midfield partner to Diego Chara. After a 2018 campaign that saw a significant adjustment period, Paredes looked far more composed in 2019, adding late-runs into the box into his arsenal midway through last season. However, no longer on loan from Club America, Paredes will face more organizational pressure to be a day-in, day-out starter this campaign. His ranginess and ability to break up play are unquestioned, but he needs to become a bit cleaner on the ball and more confident playing out of tight spaces. That said, there’s a reason the club has invested more capital into the promising midfielder: he has the potential to be a significant contributor for years to come.
Marvin Loría (LM/RM): In the next few seasons, I’d wager Marvin Loría will become the poster child for the Timbers youth development structure. With a comparatively underdeveloped and shallow Homegrown talent pool, Portland picks up guys like Loría out of foreign youth programs to develop through the Timbers pipeline. The 22-year-old Costa Rican international showed significant promise last season, and he can play a true inverted winger role - a unique style in terms of this roster. While he may see time at LM and CAM, I love him cutting in from the right, as he can deliver bangers like this and allow Jorge Moreira to bulldoze forward. At a league minimum salary, Loría provides the cheap and talented depth which makes this attack’s outlook so promising. I can’t wait to see what strides he makes this season (once he returns from an underpublicized/undisclosed injury).
Andy Polo (RM): Not many people in the Timbers fanbase understand why Andy Polo is still on the roster, let alone competing for starting minutes. In 2,860 MLS minutes, the Peruvian winger has only managed a dismal one goal and three assists - a statline that is considerably worse than ineffective wingers of the past including Kalif Alhassan, Sal Zizzo, and Franck Songo’o. He’s not an outright liability, and occasionally puts in a shift defensively, but he essentially exists solely to occupy space. Now entering his third season, Polo’s best string of matches came as the third CM in a 4-3-2-1 just before the 2018 World Cup. He’s since gathered looks in preseason as a #8 in a 4-3-2-1 and showed flashes but is still incomplete. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Tomas Conechny (CF/LM/RM): The 21-year-old Argentine enters the 2020 campaign a relative unknown, and though the club thought enough of him to exercise his full-time purchase option from San Lorenzo, his fit on the squad has yet to be fully discerned. Rumored to be one of the better headers-of-the-ball on the team, he showed occasional creative sparks in late-game situational appearances but has yet to prove he deserves starting minutes. We hear quotes akin to “he doesn’t yet know how good he can be,” but it still isn’t obvious that a particular position suits him well or if he even possesses a skillset that allows him to be a difference-maker at this level. For all intents and purposes, he’s likely to end up Diego Valeri’s understudy even if Conechny has yet to show the same precision and danger at a playmaking second-forward role. As a result, it remains to be seen if the high-rated prospect grows into a significant piece of the puzzle or if his lack of positional clarity ultimately hampers his development.
Dairon Asprilla (RM): Dairon Asprilla plays at an all-star caliber level if one of two things are true: the Timbers are on the verge of postseason elimination or he’s playing on T2. If neither of those two things are true, he’s often more useless than a turn signal on a BMW. Some wonder if he possesses compromising pictures of Wilkinson or MP, otherwise there’s very little to explain why he’s one of the longest-tenured Timbers - especially considering he’s been in-and-out of the doghouse almost every year. Word out of training suggests he’s been one of the best players in camp, but we’ve been down this road before - if it’s not Oct. or Nov., Asprilla often looks lost on the pitch.
Sidenote: 99% of Dairon’s shot attempts get thwarted due to his foolishly long windup, but when he does get a hold of one, they stay hit.
Eryk Williamson (CM): The HG midfielder (by way of D.C.) found starting minutes in spot appearances last fall, and he looked competent if unremarkable. For T2, Williamson often occupied more advanced positions, but I think he projects best as a ball-shuttling #8 in this squad. In particular, I can see him fitting into Andy Polo’s old role as a CM next to Chara and/or Paredes in a 4-3-2-1, as his passing and combination play provide a diverse look from the other two. Overall, Williamson finds himself in a decent situation to get game action this year, and I’m interested to see how he develops and grows in confidence in 2020.
Renzo Zambrano (CDM): Another international brought through the T2 pipeline, Zambrano is essentially Diego Chara’s backup at the #6. Since George Fochive left following the 2015 season, the Timbers have struggled to find a suitable defensive backup in the central midfield. Renzo is now that guy. The 25-year-old Venezuelan appeared in 10 matches last season and struggled immensely in fixtures against Colorado and Atlanta, but showed flashes of positivity in thrashings of Houston and Vancouver. 2020 will require more consistency from Zambrano who doesn’t possess the same physicality or power as Chara - but then again, few do. As a result, if I were Savarese, I’d try to mold Zambrano into a fulcrum/anchor type midfielder in the form of a Uri Rosell or Scott Caldwell. He’s a capable passer, and if he simplifies his game to shield the backline, he’ll be an asset to the team. If not, he’ll likely over-extend himself, and his midfield partner will be forced to work more tirelessly to maintain solid defensive shape. Renzo is likely the first option off the bench whenever Chara or Paredes are unavailable, so his growth is critical to the team’s success this year.
Forwards:
Jeremy Ebobisse (ST): Since Niezgoda and Mora’s arrival, some fans and media have denounced the organization for burying the 23-year-old American on the depth chart and hindering his development. Here’s why I think that’s an overly-sensationalized viewpoint:
  1. As Wilkinson has correctly identified, Ebobisse will miss a good chunk of the early season for Olympic qualification, and with Niezgoda’s injury history, there needs to be other legitimate options to start upfront (i.e. not Dairon Asprilla).
  2. In 2018, Ebobisse entered the season ‘stuck’ behind two DP-type strikers in Fanendo Adi and Samuel Armenteros. Guess who emerged on top? Ebobisse. There will be multiple competitions, two-striker formations, and rotations that allow him to earn quality minutes.
  3. This idea that the organization is almost trying to sabotage his development is an outrageous claim. Ebobisse was the only player on the squad to play in every match last season and only finished behind Chara, Blanco, and Valeri in terms of total minutes played. Granted, he played a fair few matches at LW (not ideal, but he wasn’t outright terrible), but the team did have its best stretch of success with him and Fernandez on the pitch together.
But the one factor people must acknowledge is this: Ebobisse still hasn’t developed the it factor that other MLS strikers have - at least not yet. When Fernandez arrived, his ruthlessness was a stark contrast to Ebobisse’s often less-goal-hungry runs and occasional lack of clarity in the final third. Jeremy is a decent finisher, even with a few missed sitters, but he’s still not consistent enough with the direct runs off the shoulder that separate good from great. He’ll hopefully continue to develop a wider range of skills, but he’s not yet the guy to put this team over the top.
Predicted Starting XI:
Primarily: 4-2-3-1
Other likely options: 4-3-2-1 or 4-4-2
Best Case Scenario:
A top playoff seed and a challenge for either the Supporter’s Shield or MLS Cup. Savarese effectively implements tactical flexibility, Niezgoda and Mora combine for 20+ goals, and Cristhian Paredes takes the next step forward in his development. While Župarić locks down the defense, one of Valeri or Blanco mounts a Best XI campaign, and Diego Chara makes a second consecutive All-Star Game appearance. Sprinkle in a Cascadia Cup alongside a harmonious relationship between the Front Office and Timbers Army, and you have a damn successful year.
Worst Case Scenario:
Pretty much the opposite of what you see above. Niezgoda can’t stay healthy while the core pieces’ form collectively falls off a cliff. Those in the Army who hold a personal vendetta against Merritt Paulson blow a trivial issue out of proportion causing a full-on revolt from the supporter’s group. Savarese proves to be an average coach with exploitable flaws, and the team fails to qualify for the playoffs in a competitive Western Conference. Significant spending, no tangible results. A wasted year.
Realistic Scenario:
Well, either of those two scenarios could qualify as realistic. But like all Timbers seasons, it’s most realistic to be somewhere in between. There’ll be stretches of outright panic, and there’ll be other times where we all convince ourselves the Timbers will win MLS Cup. Some of the signings hit: let’s go with Župarić - while other signings underwhelm due to extenuating circumstances: probably Niezgoda (and his glass skeleton). The team finishes in the middle of the pack - a team that no one wants to face in October - but one that is equally liable to beat themselves.
Prediction:
Even for someone as pessimistic as I am, I won’t predict the worst-case scenario. Nevertheless, I can’t shake the discouraging feeling that the Timbers will squander its immense talent again. A disappointing 6th or 7th place finish is in store after another taxing roller-coaster season. However, I’ll go out on a limb to say Portland does win a Cascadia Cup or USOC - some sort of silverware that convinces everybody the obvious flaws can be overcome in 2021. Blanco has a great 2020 season. The other pieces show flashes brilliance, yet can’t quite string together enough consistency to let the attack fire on all cylinders. Savarese will keep his job but enters the 2021 campaign on the hotseat. It’ll be another case of “close, but not close enough.”

Online Resources

Official Links: Website | Twitter
Local Coverage: Oregon Live | Stumptown Footy
Best Twitter follow: Chris Rifer
Best Read: Jamie Goldberg’s article on Fernandez didn’t age well, but it’s extremely important to understand his tragic life story.
Subreddit: timbers

#RCTID

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