RSS

Still believing

“Love has a way of turning you inside out. Teasing you and leaving you anguished. And then, when it seems that hope and belief is all that’s left, love lifts you higher than ever before, allowing you to glimpse the dream. Never, ever give up. Believe beyond reason.”

This week has been a whirlwind. World Cup, a midweek trip to Starfire, a last-minute scramble to hitch a ride north for a second time this week. More World Cup. The arrival (finally) of Liam Ridgewell. Add to that trip-planning for a weekend in Victoria to see Rangers and the late-night post from RFC Official of Kris Boyd at the airport and I’m as close to the edge as I’ve been in a very long time.

And I wouldn’t give any of it up for anything.

Two years ago, I got mad and wrote something and people responded. Then I wrote a little more and more voices joined the conversation. I never expected to write for anyone but myself, but then one of my posts blew up and I finally felt like I’d found my place.

I’ve written for several publications since, Slide Rule Pass and Prost Amerika getting most of my words. I have a piece in the latest issue of WATP Magazine and have signed on to do something (though I don’t know what) at Twelve.

I never could have imagined the people I would meet or the places I would end up when I started writing.

In the morning, I’ll head north to Seattle once more. It will be loud and crowded and overwhelming and anxiety-inducing just as it always is. And I’ll try to capture it in words as it happens. And, if my luck holds, a few of you might read what I write. For that, I thank you.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 12, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Not good enough

I keep going back to Vero Boquete in that presser after her first match in Portland. “It’s not good enough.”

And it isn’t. From either team.

The Thorns played to a 2-all draw at home yesterday afternoon. The first half was beautiful. Good pace, well-placed passes, and enough scrappy play to put two goals past Karina. With orders going into the second half to get that third goal and put the game away, they did pretty much the opposite.

The Timbers then played to a 2-all draw on the road at LA last night. They were scored on first, fought back, took the lead and then lost it to an own goal.

Not good enough.

We’ve spent the season – both seasons – hearing the same talking points from both coaches, all the stuff about keeping the lows high and the highs low, about motivation not being an issue, about this thing and that thing and never actually getting to the root of the problem.

Both clubs are lacking leadership.

I love Will Johnson. I really do. He’s tough, he’s hard-nosed, he’s not afraid of a challenge. But somehow, he’s just not himself this season. He gets caught in awkward situations and has acquired a hesitation when he finds the ball at his feet. Do I go this way? Do I go that way? Do I spin around in a circle?

And while he’s trying to figure out which direction to go, he’s not leading. It pains me to say it. He was the captain the Timbers needed in 2013. I’m not sure he’s the one they need in 2014.

With a new coach and a new direction, former captain Jack Jewsbury was asked to step back and it seemed a weight was lifted from his shoulders. Since giving up the armband, Jack has been dependable, focused and a reliable option when called on. I can’t help but wonder if a few games on the bench wouldn’t do something the same for Will.

I’m asking a similar question about Christine Sinclair. When the first roster additions were announced for the Thorns last year, it wasn’t Alex Morgan who got my attention, it was Christine Sinclair. I was thrilled when she was appointed captain but, with the team faltering, I don’t see her leadership on the field. I understand that she isn’t perhaps as demonstrative as others who’ve been charged with captaining their squads, and I get that she lives a dual life as the Canadian WNT captain, but she has not been as effective with the Thorns as she should be.

When watching the Thorns, I don’t see that passion, that fire from her that I expect from a captain who is trying to drive her side forward. I see it elsewhere on the field, but I don’t see it from her. With Paul Riley’s post-match comments yesterday about Sinc not starting because of issues with fatigue and a tightly-packed schedule over the next few weeks, maybe it’s time to move in a different direction.

Ugh.

It is, as was reiterated in a somewhat tipsy fashion to me last night by someone who has far greater knowledge than I, a simple thing to place blame on the coaching, but at a certain point, we have to look to the players to take things into their own hands. If you occupy that position of leadership on the field, you have to use it. It isn’t enough to drop “brain of a goldfish” in a post-match interview or to shrug and say the team has to work harder. You have to be the difference. You have to be the motivator. You have to be the captain both on and off the field.

Without changes, I won’t be surprised to see both teams miss out on the playoffs this year. I won’t be surprised because, though I love them deeply and despite having rosters that can and should get them there, they’re just not good enough.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on July 5, 2014 in ThornsFC, Timbers

 

A perfect night for some footy.

It was another one of those nights.

Calls went against us, the result wasn’t what it should have been, we left the stadium disappointed.

Except I’m not really that disappointed.

I got to spend a few minutes pre-match with a friend who, more than anything right now, needs the family she’s found within the Timbers Army around her. She’s going through stuff I can’t begin to imagine and this, even with this stupid result, was time off from real life: a few hours among caring, supportive friends who would do anything within their power to change things for her if they could.

Inside the stadium before the game began, I had the honor of officiating the marriage of two people I’m proud to call my friends. They’ve been together for years and some of their first dates were Timbers matches. I am honored to have been a part of their celebration and Im proud to live in a place that will now, finally, legally recognize their commitment to each other.

I got to stand next to my friend Heidi, in front of Cindy and Joe, with Gabby and Kevin and Alice and MarySue and so many others who I love dearly. And, when Urruti scored his goal, Kris appeared from I don’t even know where and hugged me so hard I thought he’d broken my shoulder.

This is soccer in Portland.

We love the game, this beautiful and sometimes painful game. We love our players, even those whose faults outweigh their talents. We breathe it all in. It sustains us. It drives us.

At the end of the day, our experience is more than the game. It is love. True, passionate, all-encompassing love.

And, win or lose, I’ll never get tired of sharing it with all of you.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 2, 2014 in Timbers

 

Open letter to Danny O’Rourke

Hi, Danny. Welcome to Portland and, more importantly, congrats on your new contract with the Timbers.

We’ve had a weird couple of years here. We got a new coach last year and he seems pretty solid. He took a team that had spiraled out of control in 2012 and brought them to within one game of the MLS Cup in 2013. By all accounts, he’s pretty great. I’m guessing you know this already.

The problem is this: something’s gone haywire this season. The defense isn’t working. The midfield has been less-than-stellar and the team just isn’t scoring. Over a third of the way through the season and we’ve only picked up two wins. It’s super weird.

So, we got a new striker. He seems like a nice enough guy. He managed an assist on his first touch when he’d basically come straight from the airport.

And now we’ve got you. No pressure, but we sure hope you’re the answer to all our questions. Most folks are hoping that you’ll help shore up a back line that has been, at best, leaky.

Me? I’m hoping you bring fire. The Timbers have been missing their spark, which is a really weird thing to say when we have guys like Will Johnson and Pa Kah on the field.

Anyway, best of luck to you. Hope to see you get some time at Chivas but, if not, we’ll see you at the park on Sunday.

Cheers,

Kristen

Oh, just a heads-up: Merritt might seem a little wacky sometimes, but he’s mostly harmless. Maybe don’t mention alligators to him for a while.

It’s the ginger you have to watch out for.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 27, 2014 in Timbers

 

Tags:

Lions and goldfish.

The Timbers have never beaten New York.

They have lost twice at New York and hosted two draws on their home field.

RBNY (or is it NYRB?) has Thierry Henry, and Jamison Olave, and Bradley Wright-Phillips who has nine goals on the season and two hat tricks. They have a trio of former Timbers who might be looking to prove a point. And they have Mike Petke and the 2013 Supporters Shield.

And the Timbers? They have a frustrated captain, a questionable back line and a number nine who’s just barely gotten off the plane from Denmark.

It’s time for them to step up.

It wasn’t long ago when the Timbers were giant-killers. Losses and draws were the norm, but then the Big Games would appear and the boys in green would out-play their opponents when no one expected them to.

Memory of that faded with the success of last season. But now, the frustration of being eleven games into this season with just a single win has reminded me.

“Heart of a lion, brains of a goldfish.”

Perhaps not the most diplomatic way to captain your side, but Will Johnson’s words after the Columbus match certainly make a point. There is a frustration there that’s been bubbling up and has now boiled over. This frustration gives me hope. This frustration comes from passion, from the knowledge that this team is better than they’ve yet shown, and from the expectations they haven’t yet met.

They can win. They will win. They must start now.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on May 24, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Closing time

The idea of going back to that bar in SE Portland for a game of this magnitude is really too much. The stress level and the potential for threats of violence toward that annoying fake-accent guy and the woo-girl cause us to gather in an apartment in NoPo instead. Eight of us in red and white.

Everyone brings something to share: donuts, bagels, juice, fruit, but most goes untouched in the kitchen as we gather around the television.

This is Arsenal. This is the FA Cup. This is everything.

Hull goes up by two early and unexpectedly. There’s no way this is how this is supposed to go. Absolutely no way.

But Santi steps up for a free kick and curls one into the upper far corner.

We enter the half still down by one. When Sone Aluko comes on for Hull, I stop breathing for a moment. It was his goal against Celtic in the March 2012 Old Firm match that I wrote about just days ago and it’s replaying over and over in my head. Every time he even comes close to putting a foot to the ball, a voice in my head says,”NOOO.”

A goal from Laurent Koscielny brings the game even and time runs out. Two extra periods are tacked onto the end of the game. The play is tired, slow. The earlier, almost frenetic pace is gone. This is now a game of survival.

The initial fifteen minute period is over. The second begins.

The intensity of those around me is much greater than my own. They’ve suffered with this team longer than I have, some a decade or more into their love affair with Arsenal. At best, and with great apologies to those who’ve coaxed me through my first year of support, Arsenal is my third team.

My heart is at Ibrox, my soul at Providence Park. But, for a time yesterday, my imagination was at Wembley.

In the end, the gentlemen of Arsenal climbed those stairs – 107 stairs, to be precise – and lifted a trophy.

It used to be that I felt I didn’t have room in my life for more than one team. Now I can’t imagine what it was like without them.

So a heartfelt thank you and congratulations to my fellow Gooners: to Jason and Caleb and Grant, to Chris and Eric and Kody and Felicia and all the others. Ninety days until we start all over again.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 18, 2014 in Arsenal

 

As promised

As promised

Right. I said I was going to post an irrational response to Sunshine’s piece on TheAxePDX this morning.

Honestly, I don’t know that I have the energy. There’s just too much.

There was a brief back and forth earlier today on Twitter about the likelihood that the second-year curse will hit Caleb Porter as it did John Spencer.
images
It won’t, though the wheels on the bus were rolling even before Porter landed in Portland. We all remember that coaching-from-afar thing, right? And the upgrade? And the starting XI for Seattle away in 2012 when so many of us raged?

Yeah. This is where crazy me gets all conspiracy-theory-y about things.

Gavin made some choices (let’s chalk that up to Gavin being Gavin) that weren’t the right choices because, well, Gavin. And Porter was brought in to clean things up a little. And now more choices have been made, but things aren’t going according to plan.

So, now what?

At some point, regardless of who brought who in (which ones are still Spenny’s guys?), the players on the field have to actually play the game and, ideally, look like they know what they’re doing.

Seriously, I’m tired. images

I’m tired of low highs and high lows and I want to see this team play with some intensity. They say they want to win, but I want them to want to win as much as I want them to win.

There was a point in the Thorns season last year when it appeared to many of us as if the Thorns themselves had taken over coaching the team. I don’t know what went on behind the scenes, but the course of the season changed and the ladies ended up lifting a trophy.

I’m not advocating a full-scale rebellion for this Timbers side, but if things aren’t going the way they need to be going in order for this team to reach its lofty potential, I expect to see a little more anger, a little more frustration, a little more passion.

Eight games in. Five points. Five ties. It’s just not good enough.

***

Speaking go ties: go get one, learn to tie a nifty half-Windsor or fancy knot of your choice, and wear it Saturday. It doesn’t change the team’s record, or increase their sense of urgency on the field, but if we’re going to be the Team at the Bottom of the Table, we may as well have a good laugh.

images

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 30, 2014 in Timbers

 
 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,139 other followers