There’s that old saying about soccer being a cruel game. The traditional meaning of the saying may not be apropos for what went down on Saturday evening between the Portland Timbers and Chivas USA, but there was indeed cruelty. It was inflicted upon the eyes of those who watched the game. From a first half performance that could charitably be called absymal to a stadium that housed the fewest fans for any MLS regular season game in more than six years to an opposing team that could charitably called absymal, it was an ugly and frustrating affair that has brought us all a step closer to the reality that the Timbers are in a serious scrap just to make the playoffs. It is a scrap that wouldn’t be as serious at this point if the team could have somewhere along the way gotten over the hump to turn road draws against lesser opponents into victories. Continue reading
1. Not quite as expected
If we played Toronto every week, there might not be any forests left in the Pacific Northwest.
If you were a neutral fan who didn’t watch the game, a 4-0 scoreline would not be a surprise. The Portland Timbers haven’t lost at home since March. Toronto FC has been in a season-long free fall that has lasted for as long as the club has been in existence. A four-goal drubbing would fit the narrative, especially the chapter about Toronto being abysmal. If you watched the match, however, you would know it was a different story. It was a Timbers side that limped into the match, weighed down by injuries and questions against a Toronto team that was game to get a result for much of the evening. It was a game that heading into the final 10 minutes looked like it could have just as easily ended in a draw with the Timbers looking tired and Toronto lurking around the goal. And then those final 10 minutes were played and order was restored to the universe. The floodgates opened, Toronto channeled a franchise-worth of futility, and the only question that remained for the Timbers was whether the chainsaw would cut all the wood cookies in time for the post-match honors. Continue reading
Get down on your knees and pray for a speedy recovery.
When a manager and general manager go about building a team before the season, low on the list of priorities is concern over who should be the sixth choice center back. At best, a player that far down the depth chart might make the game day 18 on occasion and might get a run or two in a reserves match. Such has been the season of injuries, suspensions, and international absences for the Portland Timbers that the sixth choice center back will be starting on the road on Friday against the team at the top of the table in yet another critical game in a critical stretch of the schedule. It is a fine time to make your first team debut, Rauwshan McKenzie. Continue reading
1. A Battle worthy of a Derby
In the grand scheme of things, it was just one of 34 games this season. There were the same rules in play and the same points at stake as, say, an early season match against New England. With all of the hype and the animosity and attention, however, it wasn’t an ordinary game to the supporters nor was it an ordinary game to the players and clubs involved. Need proof? How many times this season have you seen a Portland Timbers goalkeeper in the opposition’s box trying to score a goal at the end of a game? Never. This was a Cascadia Cup derby that both sides wanted badly and it was one played at a skill level and intensity that was worthy of the 1,500 traveling supporters and the 60 thousand something who turned out for Seattle. It was a contest that tastes bitter in defeat but was also one in which you cannot question the effort of the losing side that was playing without its captain and without its workhorse in the center of the pitch. It was a contest that could just as easily resulted in three points instead of the disappointing zero if first half opportunities had been converted. The loss might feel heavy but there is still a lot at stake this season for a team that has shown it is willing and capable of playing for the badge. Continue reading
1. RSL defeat Portland 3-3
Here are your three points.
Everything was seemingly coming up roses. Real Salt Lake was missing three of its key players. The Portland Timbers were playing at their home stadium which they have made a fortress this season. A depleted RSL was playing a man down. The Timbers were buoyed by a late goal that put an exclamation mark on a comeback in a game that was as crazy as any that have been played in recent memory. The top of the table was looking so sweet ahead of a derby match this weekend. And then…you know what happened. You can talk about the cruelty of soccer, but this was a cruel let down from a team that has rarely let us down this season. This was a case of a team that has been opportunistic throughout 2013 failing to take advantage of an opportunity that was served gift wrapped and served on a Supporters Shield platter. This was a self-inflicted loss disguised as a draw. Continue reading
The transfer window cometh and the transfer window closeth.
Since joining MLS, the Portland Timbers front office has rarely shied away from making moves to try to improve the team. Part of that has had to do with trying to make an edible meal out of leftover expansion parts and part of that has to do with the mentality of the men running the organization. Given the wheeling and dealing of the past, it comes as a bit of a surprise that the club didn’t make a move during the summer transfer window. Continue reading
They love Jason Kreis so much there is a statue of him outside the stadium.
If you do the same commute at the same time every morning, you start to recognize people. There’s the woman dragging her two kids to daycare in a bike trailer. There is the hipster who has a different trucker hat for each day of the year smoking on his porch. There is the homeless guy with the shopping cart hoping that the previous night’s festivities have resulted in some new empties in the apartment complex’s dumpster. These are anonymous people whose names you will probably know but whose presence is part of the comforting routine of daily life.
This morning is no different. I see them all as I pedal along the normal route at the normal time. But this morning is also different. Instead of turning right, I go left. Instead of passing the dude waiting for the bus who always looks out of place in his business suit, I head left. Instead of heading to my desk with its computer that houses the backlog of emails that I really probably should respond to, I am heading to watch a soccer game being played 800 miles away. It is a Wednesday and it feels delightfully irresponsible to have turned left. Continue reading