RSS

Monthly Archives: August 2012

Is this where I put the rant?

Oh, where to start?

Okay, so season ticket prices are not going up next year. That’s fantastic. Rather, it’s to be expected.

That’s right: expected. You make this grand statement that your team is going to make the playoffs in its second MLS year, things get all crazy, you fire your coach, ship your keeper to Canada and call your season ticket holders morons, idiots and, most distastefully, customers. Yes, we idiots and morons would have paid the higher ticket price, but you need the goodwill. This is probably the best choice you’ve made in a good long while.

However, that does not solve the problems here.

I’m no longer sure what solves the problems here.

A new coach goes a long way. The right coach.

Somebody said to me on Twitter a while back that they thought Gavin was just fine as the Timbers coach since the players “didn’t seem to mind him.”

I don’t want someone they don’t seem to mind. I want someone they will crawl through flaming broken glass for.

Is Caleb Porter that guy?

I have absolutely no idea. What I do know is that the current problem still exists.

Caleb Porter’s reputation is as a coach who can develop young talent, something we have an abundance of. Bringing him in and staying with our current raise-them-from-puppies course means we’re not playoff bound for a year? Two years? Longer? Sure, he took a championship at Akron pretty quickly after arriving there but MLS is a much, much different animal.

Maybe he can do it. I’d like to see him try. But I must admit that any opinion I have of him at this point is based solely on what I’m reading and hearing from others. I’m skeptical of pretty much everything that comes from the FO or Portland’s traditional media, but it was a tweet from Ian Joy that put me in Porter’s corner:

Caleb Porter. Young, exciting coach but he needs 2 be given the full reigns GW & @MerrittPaulson need 2 stand aside & let him work his magic

That says it all, doesn’t it? Here’s this young coach facing a pretty incredible opportunity. He could come in and save the team from itself. He might be the spark that ignites possibility anew. WE’RE GONNA WIN THE LEAGUE!

But with Gavin Wilkinson still employed by the club, this team will not be Porter’s team unless he’s willing to stand up to Gavin. And, as has been documented elsewhere, those who stand up to Gavin are not long associated with this club.

Here’s where the #GWin folks start yelling at me again. I get it. We won one game. ONE GAME since Gavin took over.

One game does not change the pattern of insanity that has been laid out this season. No, I’m not saying Gavin is insane. Insane I could understand. Whatever it is that Gavin’s doing is something I most decidedly don’t understand.

Did I see journo-tweets earlier suggesting that Perkins was traded after consulting with a coaching candidate who had not yet signed a contract with us? Who had not even been presented a contract to review? Really? That seems…bush league. Who does that?

So, guess what, #GWin folks? The #GWout folks will still be here, loud and proud, because we believe that Gavin’s departure is in the best interest of the club in the long run. This is not new. This is not bandwagon. This is something that has been brewing for a very, very long time. One win, even a Cascadia Cup match win, does not change things.

In order for Caleb Porter (or whoever finally takes the gig) to be a successful coach of our beloved Portland Timbers, Gavin must go.

And here’s where we get to #TAout, a hashtag that appeared briefly Saturday night after the match.

Let’s remember that lots of stuff happened Saturday night. Nearly all of it made me incredibly proud to be a part of this organization. Prematch, the Timbers Army presented a check to Cody Goldberg for Harper’s Playground in the amount of $47k. Incredible.

Then, without any sort of cue I was aware of other than Gavin’s arrival on the field, a flurry of GWout two-sticks and banners went up. Not the dozen Canzano saw. Rather, many dozens. This is by no means a fringe movement anymore, if it ever was. Don’t be surprised to see more at the next match. This isn’t going away.

And then they came down and we cheered our players.

And the tifo. I cannot imagine the number of hours folks put in on this one. Thousands of flags (not just plastic sheeting as we’ve used before – actual flags on poles) in the colors of the Cascadian Doug went up after the anthem along with the profile of the Douglas Fir itself, as tall as the stadium. Stunning.

So, here’s the thing, #TAout folks: without the TA, you don’t have tifo of that magnitude. You don’t have a ridiculous amount of money raised to support a playground for kids with disabilities. You don’t have capos. You probably don’t even have the Timbers.

So, to sum up:

#TAout? No.

#GWin? No.

#GWout? Yes.

Caleb Porter? Yes.

Season ticket pricing freeze? Yes.

Now, let’s see what tomorrow brings.

Advertisements
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 27, 2012 in Timbers

 

Tags: , , , , ,

The morning after.

Yes. We won. We won a cup match. We won a Cascadia Cup match.

And we’re thrilled. The Cascadia Cup means something to us. For many, it means more than the MLS Cup.

But, for a far greater number, it’s what we’re clinging to now that everything else is (almost) out of reach.

There. I said it. And I full expect to take a raft of crap for it but there it is. The Cascadia Cup, sadly, is what’s left. It deserves more. It deserves to be the brightest star in a constellation of stars. Instead, it is the only star.

Don’t get me wrong. This win, this Cascadia Cup match win, was precisely what we needed. Our last win was July 3, a lifetime ago. Since then, we’ve lost a coach, a keeper and a whole lot of faith in the management of our club.

*sigh*

One win does not change the course of the season. The patterns were set long ago. Hard-fought near-wins at the beginning of the season (let’s look at that RSL loss on the Beckerman goal in the 93rd) brought this team to its knees. The self-created road curse didn’t help.

Do I still believe the talent is there? Absolutely. We saw that talent against Vancouver. We know it’s out there. Steven Smith who, at times, has melted into the background (or, depending on the weather, a puddle), stepped up and made a disaster-averting save. Eric Alexander, who I’ve long championed, reminded me why his is the only name I’ve ever had put on a jersey. David Horst, who many are picking up as their dread-player, had some terrific plays. A couple of stinkers, but still. Some terrific plays.

Let’s take two minutes and do this: coaching has been and continues to be a problem.

I loved Spenny. I really did. But there was a problem there. I’m not entirely sure his coaching was at issue (many will vehemently disagree with me there) insofar as the actually play was concerned. We were so close so many times. Where I found fault with him was his ability to motivate this team. Drop a goal and they were done. They didn’t fight back. They just stopped.

And I’m pretty sure Gavin isn’t helping that. I doubt our boys are playing all-out because of a great affection for Gavin unless that “affection” stems from the desire to not be the next one with a plane ticket and a new address in a faraway city.

I think they’re playing for Sean McAuley. I’ve been wrong before. In fact, recently, I’ve been wrong a shocking amount, but I’m standing by this until the team names someone else. All I really know for sure is that they’re not going to name me.

Gavin still needs to go. Merritt still needs to apologize.

The boys need to continue playing like they mean it. Every match. For the full ninety. Playoffs, shmayoffs. Boys, you play for the badge. You play for US.

***

My birthday (the real one as opposed to the fake one from last week) is this week. I have a long list of things I want.

I want a coach.

I want another three points on the other side of this week though, at this point, they won’t matter much. I want them anyway.

I want clean play and no injuries. The next Cascadia match feels like it’s mere minutes away and the thought of losing any of our guys ahead of it makes my teeth hurt.

I want Boyd back. And I want Dike next to him. I swoon at the sort of trouble they might cause opposing teams. Do you go after the young guy with something to prove, who is fast and strong and agile? If you do, you run the risk of leaving the fox-in-the-box unattended. Having sat for two games now, he’s also got something to prove. I doubt he’ll miss another chance.

I’m off to the reserves match in a bit. Looking forward to seeing Eric Brunner and a great many of you fine folks.

***

I’ll have some words on GWout, GWin and TAout in the next couple days. You all know what I think so the wait won’t kill you.

And I’ll just drop this here:

Last night before the match started, the Timbers Army handed a check to Cody Goldberg, father of Harper Goldberg and the driving force behind Harper’s Playground, a barrier-free playground for kids with disabilities being built here in Portland. That check was for $47,000. If you have a problem with the TA, remember this.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 26, 2012 in Timbers

 

The summer of our discontent

This, my friends, has been the summer of our discontent.

It started with Cal FC.

It continued with some really stirring losses.

Spenny got fired. Perkins got traded.

We lost a match 5-nil.

Kenny scored on us.

Merritt called us idiots.

And we’re still here. We’re frustrated, but we’re still here.

The Army is gathering.

There’s a Cup on the line.

With waning hope for a playoff spot, we focus on what really matters: we will bring the Cascadia Cup to the Rose City where it belongs.

It starts now.

Vancouver this weekend. Seattle in a few weeks. Road trips to each in October. I’d prefer to have it wrapped up before the bus trip.

Let’s have it.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 24, 2012 in Timbers

 

Enough

It all adds up over time.

Losing to Cal FC wasn’t enough.

Losing Spenny wasn’t enough.

That 5-zip loss in Dallas wasn’t enough.

Trading Perkins wasn’t enough.

Watching what could have been one of this team’s biggest victories of the season slip away wasn’t enough.

None of that was enough.

As fans, as supporters, as members of the Timbers Army, we pride ourselves on always going to 11. We show up early. We wait in line for hours. We start singing hours before the match starts. We continue long after the final whistle is blown. Win, lose or draw. We do this out of love, pride, passion.

We travel thousands of miles to support this team. I saw a post somewhere that one of the traveling supporters on the current road swing through Toronto and New York will have logged 6,300 miles in support of this club.

We buy jerseys and t-shirts and I’m sure that someone somewhere even bought one of those dumbass monkey things.

We memorize every stat, even the ones we find meaningless. We rewatch every game, sometimes three, four times. We show up for reserves, U23s, U20s. Whichever squad is playing, wherever they’re playing, we’re there.

And, because of all of this, because of the passion we have for this team and the culture that’s risen around it, we are idiots.

Except those of us who are morons.

Idiots and morons.

Those are the words that Merritt has chosen for us.

I don’t even…

I’ve been one of the ones defending him for longer than I care to admit. I admired his passion, I have enjoyed his interaction with supporters. Who didn’t follow the Wynalda-Twitter-trainwreck drama?

But I think I’m done now.

Merritt, Gavin has to go.

And you need to apologize, loudly and publicly, to all of us.

There’s a Cascadia Cup match on the other side of this week. We, the idiots and morons, will be ready. Will you?

 
8 Comments

Posted by on August 19, 2012 in Timbers

 

Mixed feelings

I support my boys in green. I stand with them. I sing for them. I wear a scarf in the dog days of summer. I drag a giant Scotland flag around with me to support my two surviving Scots.

I don’t tell you this to paint myself as some sort of superfan. I just love my club. I want to see them succeed. I want better for them than what’s happening this season.

Not for me. For them.

I’ve been ranting for a week straight now. Perkins to Montreal. Chabala to DC. Gavin being Gavin. John Strong and Timbers in 30 toeing the company line. That horrifying “interview” with Merritt. The Willamette Week interview with Troy Perkins that was far more telling than anything coming from the FO.

There’s this feeling I’m having a hard time describing. I have all these things I want to say and am struggling to put them into words.

People are talking about a boycott.

My head hurts. My heart hurts.

What does this boycott look like? Is it really a boycott if we all still show up at Jeld-Wen on gameday?

I’m currently landing pretty solidly in the concessions boycott camp. I cannot fathom not being in the stadium to cheer for my boys, but I can certainly do it without a beer and a hot dog. Money speaks.

We’re in the middle of discussing this on Twitter, as we have been for a week. “So, I’ll spend $20 to support the boys, but not $7.25 for a beer? I guess I don’t understand the logic,” a fellow RCTIDer tweets to me. Sigh.

I’m not sure I’m the one to explain it, but here goes.

I’m a season ticket holder. I see those tickets as an agreement with the team that I will be there, that I will show up and support them, win, lose or draw, in all weather, against any opponent.

An agreement with the team that I will support them.

This does not mean that I will offer my undying support for every ill-advised, poorly-timed, absolutely ludicrous decision made by the front office nor will I stand idly by as the FO attempts to spin the story to make those decisions look less ill-advised, poorly-timed and ludicrous.

Yes, I’ve contacted my ticket rep. At this point, I’m stunned that he even responds. I’m sure, when he opens his email in the morning and sees my name, there is a deep sigh as he reaches for his coffee. I know that ranting at him (venting to him?) isn’t going to change the course of the season. It isn’t going to unseat Gavin. It isn’t going to stop the ridiculous spin.

But we have to take any opportunity to express our frustration, don’t we?

How far are we willing to go?

My guy in the FO, when I asked him a month ago, said that the normal rules still apply. Distasteful and/or offensive displays might get you a talking-to. Yet the rumor is still circulating that any anti-Gavin display is going to earn you a ban.

Again, how far are we willing to go?

I’m trying to understand all of this. I’m trying to get a handle on how and what I feel.

It comes down to this: Gavin has got to go. If a GWOut t-shirt gets me hauled out of the North End, so be it. I’ll be with a hundred others in the same situation. If a GWOut two-stick gets others kicked out, they can stand with us on the sidewalk.

A moment (or several moments) of silence during the match? This is where we are divided.

What message does it send? What does it say to our boys?

It says we care.

It does not say we do not support them. Quite the contrary. It says we care enough to make a statement. It says we are united in our passion for this club.

Aside from that, through the magic of Twitter and Facebook, we have the ability to alert them to any protest ahead of time. A few words of explanation and I’m sure they’d understand.

But are we there yet?

Are we willing to stand silently, to hush those around us who may not understand, to spread the word beforehand not just among fellow supporters, but also to those members of the team who are most accessible to us? Are we willing to do this?

Some of us are. But collectively? I’m not so sure.

What will it take?

I’m not an organizer. I’m not normally a protestor. I’m barely a blogger.

But I’m ready for whatever happens. And something needs to happen.

I’ve been warned of the repercussions, the possibility of ejections and bans. I’ve been offered advice, as though I were going to step in and be the protest organizer. I’m not, but I’ll pass along the advice.

Stay sober. Stay serious. If it’s important enough for you to launch a formal protest, it’s important enough for you to keep your wits about you.

Have photographers present. You can’t swing a scarf in the North End without hitting a camera or a smartyphone, but those wielding them need know the whens and wheres in order to properly capture not just the protest, but whatever aftermath there may be.

If you’re ejected, go with dignity. We’ll meet you at BE afterward and Chris Cooper will probably buy you a beer. If you’re banned, shout about it long and loud to anyone who will listen. Social media is your friend. No one should be denied access to their club because they have expressed an opinion.

I sincerely doubt that it will come to this. Any sort of protest, organized or otherwise, should cause the FO some frustration but I would hope that, even in turbulent times such as these, an expression of opinion would not bring down the ban-hammer. But this is the same FO that sent out a survey about reserved seating in the North End and was shocked when the response was swift and harsh. They appear, at the moment, to be tone deaf.

As I am wont to do, I’ve talked to some of our TA elders about the current situation with the club. I keep hearing the same things over and over. We’ve been in some pretty crappy places before. We’ve had some difficult, wrenching seasons. The difference now is the scale of things. Bigger stage. More at stake. Many, many more people involved. This is a much harder ship to steer but we can hardly expect it to right itself now that it’s been taking on water for so long.

Again, I’m not an organizer. I can’t encourage you to participate in whatever protest happens. But I’ll keep you up to date if there seems to be a consensus on what that protest will be.

Make your own choice.

 
6 Comments

Posted by on August 16, 2012 in Timbers

 

Tags: , ,

The other shoe drops. We’re running out of shoes.

I’m full of conspiracy theories today. All sorts of “Gavin is trading all the players who’ve really connected with fans” and “Gavin is ridding himself of those most likely to speak up when they see the train leaving the rails” and “Gavin is now feeding sound bites to others in an effort to make himself look like less of a douche” conspiracy theories.

I guess you probably see the pattern here.

I consider myself lucky in that, in the midst of this mess, I’ve been able to talk through things with some of our wise TA elders. I ask questions and they answer. They discuss and I listen. They ask my opinion and I have absolutely no idea what to say.

Well, that was yesterday, anyway.

Today, one of them is replying to emails entirely in Latin. Others have gone silent.

There’s a sense of shock. Not even shock, but shell shock.

I wasn’t sure if that was really the term to describe what I’m feeling, what I think a lot of us are feeling, but a quick look at Wikipedia confirms it.

It has been described as a reaction to the intensity of the bombardment and fighting that produced a helplessness appearing variously as panic, or flight, an inability to reason, sleep, walk or talk.

Oh, yes. That’s totally it. We’ve all been waiting for the other shoe to drop since Spenny was shown the door. We’re down two shoes this week. How many more shoes do we have?

We all knew another trade was coming. I was certain that it would (heartbreakingly) be Eric Alexander but, as it turned out, the next former Timber with a plane ticket was Mike Chabala.

There are some who will point to his recent play and assure me this is a good move both for the team and for Mike. I get it, but there are still others I’d rather had gone first. And I’m not keen on spinning this as a mercy trade. Poor, poor Mike gets to go to DC! He’ll see some playing time now! They were just gonna release him at the end of the season anyway, right?

Whatever. Maybe that’s the reality, but it sounds like something a shadowy, GW-flavored version of James Carville might craft. If there’s a quote from Mike that confirms the story, I’ll happily retract the previous statement. And if it’s out there, I’m guessing someone will soon point it out to me.

Mike came to us midway through last season and immediately showed himself to be someone who understood what it meant to play in the Rose City. It’s not enough to play and play hard. It’s not enough to just wear the badge. You have to have passion. You have to have fire. You have to become one of us.

Mike found a way to do that immediately.

I will add him to the list of players I will miss. And I will wish him the best with his new team.

***

I made my pilgrimage to the stadium today, spurred by sentimentality or insanity or something else I can’t quite identify. I looked out over the field. I reached out to touch gates and the walls. I imagined a better time, a happier time.

And it worked for a minute. The ghostly echo of a chant, a hint of smoke, laughter, love, pride, passion….

***

The pod will be out sometime Friday. I probably said something stupid that people will laugh openly about, but at this point it’s all just a blur. With any luck at all, the stupid stuff I said will be difficult to hear as I think I was holding my mic somewhere near my right ear. Regardless, I’m honored to have been invited and thankful that I finally got to meet Roberto and Nevets. I still haven’t bought Nevets a beer, but I did leave some cider in Merritt’s basement for him.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on August 9, 2012 in Timbers

 

Tags: ,

Upgraded: a mess of a post after a mess of a day

I don’t even know where to start. Seatbelts are in order as I have no idea where this is going to go and it might be a bumpy ride.

Has it really only been a month since Spenny’s departure? It feels like a decade.

And here we are again.

Troy Perkins.

Dammit, Troy Perkins.

Apologies to the surviving Timbers, but Troy was our one constant. He was our rock, our warrior. The man had his face kicked off for us and came back with absolutely no hesitation. He came back with a fierceness that I cannot imagine any of the rest of us would have been able to muster. When asked for my starting XI, I only ever give ten names because I only have one keeper I trust to put out there match after match.

Troy Perkins. He belongs to Montreal now.

But he will always be a Timber.

What comes next? This is a question I ask and am asked on an almost daily basis.

There is no simple answer aside from this: I don’t know.

We can look back and say, sure, we knew Spenny wasn’t long for Portland. Those rumblings had begun months ago and we collectively assumed he’d at least finish out the season. But we knew he was going.

But Troy? Troy was untradeable. That’s not even a word. Spellcheck tells me it isn’t but you know what I mean. They could have traded anyone else and, while I might have been surprised or angry or whatever, it wouldn’t have floored me like this has.

There is rage. There is this overwhelming feeling that, as so many of us are waiting for the next announcement, our front office is throwing in the towel. Or maybe they did weeks ago and I just didn’t notice it because I was still waiting for a miracle. A turning point. A watershed moment.

Well, here we are. This is our turning point, such as it is. That realist girl from the last post? She’s pretty sure this is where our season ends. I kinda hate her.

I reached out to one of the players today to offer a word or two of encouragement. It’s something that’s easy to do with this team as many of the players are on Twitter or Facebook and are super-responsive. I think it’s important to do that sometimes, to let them know that, despite whatever bizarre behavior is exhibited by the front office, we will still support them. We will still believe in them. We will not falter in this.

I won’t give you his response except to say that it leads me to believe that more change is coming (shocking, I know) and that the players who are still here are on edge.

I don’t want that. I want my guys focused on playing soccer, on playing for the badge, on playing for us. Trading Troy Perkins makes that impossible.

I get how this works. There are no guarantees that a player will not be traded. It’s a part of the world in which they live. But there are some guys you just don’t trade and when one is traded, I can’t help but think of the (poor word choice here) impact it will have on the rest of the squad.

Sigh.

I still believe.

There was a very brief discussion (hardly a discussion, really, more just a few angry tweets) on Twitter about the mantra “Believe Beyond Reason.”

Believe Beyond Reason, I read, is stupid. It “implies you don’t expect results.”

Not true. I expect results, I’ve just managed to stay hopeful longer than you have this year, Angry OG. It’s no slight to you. We’ve very different experiences with this club. You’ve been around longer, you’ve been more deeply involved. It is because of the work you’ve done that I’m here and I recognize that.

Whether you like it or not, I’m still, despite the idiocy of the last month, believing beyond reason.

I want the star above the crest. I want the hardware. I want the parade. I want the gathering in the square. And we will have all of those things.

But we won’t have any of them with Troy Perkins.

There’s a lot of speculation romping around on Twitter and Facebook and all the various other outlets. Who goes next? Who might be on the way here already?

I will be stunned if Kris Boyd returns for a second season here. Truth be told, I’ll be surprised if he’s still here for the Vancouver match at the end of the month.

Kalif might be next, but I think the first out will be Eric Alexander. Fair warning to those around me: this will trigger an all-out meltdown on my part.

Is there really anyone left that’s untradeable? Chara, perhaps? But if Perkins can go, surely Chara can, too.

***

When John Spencer was fired, my reaction was to go to the Bitter End to mourn. I drove toward the stadium and parked on 20th. There were satellite trucks there from every local station but I quietly made my way around them to walk over by the team store and look out over the field. I reached out as I walked and touched the brick of the outside of the concourse.

I’m nothing if not sentimental. I did the same today, though there were no cameras, no reporters, no flurry of activity. It was just me and the stadium, a bit of architecture I’ve come to think of as a cathedral.

I was angry a lot of the day. I won’t lie. I’m guessing I’ll spend a lot of time angry over decisions made by the front office in the coming weeks and months.

But being there calmed me. It reminded me that I’m in this for the long haul. As long as the Timbers play, I will be there. Troy is gone. Others will come and go. But I’m not going anywhere.

And, for a minute, it was okay.

***

I’m going to hang with the guys from 5mTKO tomorrow. The podcast will be up on iTunes sometime Friday.

 
5 Comments

Posted by on August 7, 2012 in Timbers

 

Tags: , ,