So Seth Dunny …. Portland lack the ‘F*** You’ mentality


Dunseth: Portland lack the ‘F*** You’ mentality.

Brian Dunseth is a Salt Lake based color analyst and radio show host for Real Salt Lake, ESPN700, Fox Soccer and NBC Sports. In an Op-ed today. Hours after the news broke, he reacted over coffee to the dismissal of his friend John Spencer as Portland coach.

After that, he pored over the remnants of the issues surrounding the club’s 2012 troubles and peeled the Portland onion apart.

Portland Lack the ‘F*** You’ Mentality

by Brian Dunseth

It’s such an interesting dynamic. I don’t think you can talk Portland without talking the rivalry with the Seattle Sounders. I absolutely understand the Cascadia rivalry but I don’t think it’s there yet in terms of what it was.

I don’t think the rivalry is there yet in terms of what it was in the previous incarnation. Not yet. I think it has the foothold to become that.

Right now with where Portland is and where Seattle is the rivalry is a little bit greater than after you bring Vancouver into the mix.

I’ve always wondered whether Portland’s own personal expectations coming in to match Seattle and having the success they had kind of tempers their growth. It tempers their growth in terms of stability.

At the end of the day, John Spencer was in the exact same statistical place that Bruce Arena and the LA Galaxy were and LA Galaxy won MLS Cup in 2011.

Now you’re looking at LA being secure because they have a secure coach with an incredible amount of history underneath his belt versus a second year coach who is widely successful at Jeld Wen because of his fanatic fanbase, but dramatically unsuccessful on the road where they never scored more than a goal in MLS play.

That'[s partly his undoing and what it boiled down to. He has had the curse of an expansion team on the road.

Personnel wise, Kris Boyd and Danny Mwanga have made the team better, The development of Darlington Nagbe has absolutely made the team better.

When I look at this group of players, with the exception of Kris Boyd, I’m looking for one of these attacking players to take the game by the balls consistently.

You got a lot of nice players, a lot of really technical and creative individual players but Songo’o has had his fitness issues. Alhassan has been wildly successful and yet wildly unsuccessful. He hasn’t ever taken over the game on a consistent game in game out level.

Graham Zusi has found a way to register assists and goals for SKC/John May

The hope for both Darlington and Danny is that both of them have this incredible talent. They have more ability in their pinky toes than a majority of other players in Major League Soccer.

But I’m looking for that grit. I’m looking for that little piece of Fabian Espindola.

I don’t know if it is killer instinct. I call it the ‘Fuck You’ mentality.

Maybe that is killer instinct depending on how you term it. Darlington can do things that maybe players in this league cannot do. It’s the same with Danny.

That’s ultimately how they are going to be judged. Not for what they are doing for the team, but for what they are doing statistically.

Sometimes that’s wildly unfair but that’s where we are at in this league. How many goals? How many assists? How many All Star teams? How many championships? It’s not how much of a complete player are you at this point, especially for these young kids.

As an American, you’d like to see them figure out a way to become American citizens and add to the pool because I think they are good enough to be US internationals. Yet they are good enough to be internationals for their home country as well.

It’s an interesting effect that Portland has because I think from a talent perspective they have absolutely everything that you could want in terms of attacking. You just want them to dominate on the road  the way they dominate at home. It shows you the effect of the home crowd and how much a soccer specific stadium can mean to certain teams.

Look at Sporting KC’s Graham Zusi. Graham has found a way to be statistically relevant. He’s got a great cannon on him. He’s one of the most consistent servers of the ball in this league but I also think that the team is built the right way for him.

It took guts by Peter Vermes to trade Jack Jewsbury and give a diminished role to Davie Arnaud as well, trusting that Graham was going to be the guy. On an interesting sidenote, Peter told me that over these three years of expansion drafts, he protected Graham knowing that Graham would have an immediate impact the year after. He felt that strongly about Graham being a big time player for him in the years to come but he wanted to bring him on in the right way.

Should Portland base their path then on working around one player? It all depends on what your style is. I think there are two styles to the Portland Timbers. That’s the most difficult thing right now. It takes the team to change their mentality when you go on the road.

Trust me, it’s not hard to sit in that stand and get pumped up at Jeld Wen. It’s easy to get up for games like that. But can you have that same mentality for going on the road?

It’s a little bit smaller confines. The ball plays a little bit differently on that turf  especially when it’s wet, to playing on a wide field at altitude in Denver or at Rio Tinto. It’s a different mentality that you got to have. I’m not sure the team has figured that out yet.

If you look at that group, defensively there are not a lot of stars. You look at that team and they are very serviceable players but  not a lot of guys that stand out. There are not a lot of guys about whom, you could say would be picked if you did a blind questionnaire and said ‘here is the back line of the Portland Timbers, which of them would you put in your starting XI’?

Before the acquisition of maybe Kimura, and because not many people know much about Smith, I’m not sure people could look at Rodney Wallace, Mike Chabala, Steven Smith, Eric Brunner, David Horst, Futty Danso, Hanyer Mosquera, Kimura, Lovell Palmer, Jack Jewsbury and point out one individual player and say ‘this would be a starting player on my team’ if you were another MLS coach.

Alhassan needs to dominate games on a more consistent level
Photo: Ali Gilmore

That may be the biggest difference between them and Vancouver, but – that being said – that group works at Jeld Wen. It works at home. Maybe it doesn’t work on the road.

This is the most interesting theme about these MLS teams, is when you start peeling back individual layers. You examine these:

‘Here’s the way the team is built. Here’s the formation on how it is built. Here are the players whom it is built on. Here’s the money that is being spent on it. Ultimately this is what we are trying to accomplish.’

Doing that, you realise that there are very few teams that are built the same way.

As an example. Sporting Kansas City and Chicago Fire are very similar in terms of how they are built, but they both go about it in a little bit of a different way. Whereas Sporting Kansas City maybe finalised how they are built, Chicago is still adding bits and pieces and dealing with the foreigners that they are bringing in to buy into their mentality.

The dynamics are all very interesting when you start to peel that onion apart.

Also See:

So Seth Dunny

Timbers Versus FC Dallas: Slump Busting Showdown by Brennan Burns


About Author

Steve is the founder and owner of Prost Amerika. He covered the expansion of MLS soccer in Cascadia at first hand. As Editor in Chief of, he was accredited at the 2014 World Cup Final. He is the former President of the North American Soccer Reporters Association/ Originally from Glasgow, he is a supporter of the Great Glasgow Alternative, Partick Thistle.


  1. Just my tuppence worth on this. Gavin should print this off and stick it on the locker room wall in Dallas.

    And say ‘ go out there and prove him wrong’.

  2. Actually I just had another thought re the Timbers. They tend to do better against teams who bring it physically and try and battle it out. Look at who they’ve beaten this year. Sporting Kansas, Seattle, San Jose.

    I think when an opponent brings a ‘F*** You’ mentality against them, they respond to it well.

    However, when a side comes with a different game plan, the Timbers don’t get so roused and are more easily rolled over.

    The key has to be to send them out there angry on every game, not wait for a bully of an opponent to get them riled.

  3. again, a rivalry doesn’t have to be based on team successes or lack there of. This year the teams were sucking coming into the first rivalry game, and the Timbers Army was the loudest I’ve ever heard it. Yes, success of both teams helps, but it doesn’t have to be present.

    When will you bonehead media tools get that…soccer is different that the NBA and NFL in terms of rivalries.

    • Thank you Rob. If it’s one thing I am well known for it is being a passionate NFL fan who occasionally writes about soccer in my spare time. Brian of course played quarterback for the Philadelphia Beagles all his life and you are to be congratulated for exposing his lack of any soccer experience.

  4. “At the end of the day, John Spencer was in the exact same statistical place that Bruce Arena and the LA Galaxy were and LA Galaxy won MLS Cup in 2012.” I was not aware that the Galaxy won the 2012 MLS Cup. Well that certainly sucks, I thought these league games still meant something.

  5. Editor –

    You made me laugh, Steve! I feel the same way about many posts these days in our “local SCUSA” boards where the poster doesn’t understand or know even the most basic facts about the team/players etc yet posts comments as if he may know more than the coach or GM….or expert analysis such as Seth’s or your own. I guess it goes with getting more people to get up to speed. I found both Seth’s analysis….unbiased….and your own in another article (independent you are…although we know you have an afinity for Scotland). Keep up the good work….and here is to supporting my team know matter what is going on. RCTID

    • Thanks Don.

      I don’t mind guessing or speculation. After all, unless we are in the room, we are all doing that to a certain extent. I do like less the playing the man not the ball. By all means disassemble Dunny’s or my argument, but to attack Brian as a media guy who only gets his knowledge from the NBA is ridiculous. Be ridiculous and you can only expect ridicule.

      Likewise some of the aggression towards Paulson and Wilkinson seems personal. Call their decisions whatever you want; but attack the decision not the man.

      Mostly. I’m glad you got a chuckle out of it.