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Monthly Archives: September 2012

Unfinished business: a few more words about (and to) Kris Boyd

EDIT: This was posted on Slide Rule Pass in the middle of the night last night, before word came down that Kris Boyd may be out for the rest of the season with the injury sustained at San Jose. I am, as you might expect, devastated. Read if you want. Stop here if you already saw this on SRP. Cheers!

***

I’ve been writing this for days now. I’ve only just decided to start over. Bear with me. I’m going to write fast and see if I can get the words out before they become too much of a mess. Apologies in advance.

I’ve been a little haunted since the reserves match Sunday. It was a fun game and, after Saturday (when I missed the derby to attend a memorial service), it felt…healing. It felt like going home after a long, drawn-out absence.

I never thought I’d see Kris Boyd play in a reserves match, but there we were. And he looked good. He was active and engaged and, within the first ten minutes of the match, had an assist and a goal.

And then it felt like the end.

Did we just see Kris Boyd’s last goal as a Timber?

My heart hurts to think about it.

After several games on the bench, limited minutes and a view from the sidelines of a derby match, last night’s injury against San Jose has set me on edge. Maybe that was it. Maybe that reserve match goal really was Kris Boyd’s last wearing our club’s badge.

A couple days ago, another member of the Timbers Bloggers Battalion posed this question: if I could bring back only five players next year, who would they be? I warned him that my picks would be entirely emotion-driven.

Eric Alexander, of course, because I know he can do more. Diego Chara for the effort he puts in every time he suits up for us. David Horst for the sheer fact that I want to see him beat the crap out of the OTHER Eddie Johnson sometime in the near future. Mike Fucito because I can’t help loving that little hobbit.

And, it will come as no surprise, Kris Boyd.

Boyd makes the list not just because of my ridiculous fan-crush, but because I think he has some unfinished business here.

If we go back to the Cubbie incident, we remember that Cubbie tried to paint him as the failed savior of the Timbers 2012 season and the reason John Spencer was fired. Lame.

But, watching Boyd struggle since then, it seems he took it to heart. He’s had flashes, momentary glimpses of the player he should be, but those have been few, separated by long instances of Gavin-imposed exile.

So, what happens now? The season is coming to a close, the playoffs are beyond our reach. Boyd’s one-plus-one contract is weighing on my mind.

Will he stay? Does he want to stay? Does incoming manager Caleb Porter want him to stay?

I want him to stay. I want him to succeed. I’m a sucker for a romantic comeback story and the scene is set for one here.

Here’s the thing: I loved Kenny Cooper. I will always keep a special place in my heart for Kenny. Soft-spoken, polite, misused Kenny Cooper.

And now, I wait to see what happens to Kenny’s replacement. Kenny, let’s remember, is currently among the league’s leading scorers. For another club that figured out how he works.

Here’s to hoping that we get a second chance at figuring out how Kris Boyd works. If anyone from the Timbers coaching staff needs me to point them in the right direction on this one, I’ve got a fair few Youtube videos I can point out.

So, here, because I feel I need to, a few words not *about* Kris, but to him.

Stay. If the choice is yours to make, I hope you choose to stay. The Portland chapter of your story is still being written. Don’t leave in the middle. Stay and become a legend, not just a footnote in our history.

I was there at the press conference when you were introduced to the Timbers faithful. I was there for your first goal at Jeld-Wen. I stood with you, shoulder to shoulder, at midfield during a season ticket holder event and looked up into the North End and I imagined a day in the future when I would tell my kids about this guy, this legendary Scottish striker that, by some odd turn of luck, ended up here in Portland.

I hope that, after I tell them about your rocky first year, I will be able to tell them about your triumphant comeback in your second year here, when you lead the league in scoring and lead our club deep into the playoffs.

Help me tell that story, Kris.

Give me a story to tell.

***

Since I’ve had a couple people ask today, the stupid scarf got handed off to my ticket rep on Monday. He’s assured me he will stalk Boyd until it gets signed. Above and beyond the call of duty. Seriously.

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Posted by on September 21, 2012 in Timbers

 

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A few thoughts on San Jose.

This match should have been ours. This should have been our first road win in nearly a year.

Two reasons:

Joe Bendik.

In two Timbers/Sounders matches this last weekend, we went down two goalkeepers.

Thankfully, we still had Joe Bendik.

People seemed apprehensive about him. He’s young, he’s pretty green, he seems to get thrown into the fire pretty often. First MLS start against a high-scoring San Jose side? Seemed like a disaster waiting to happen.

But he held his own. He’s earned my respect.

David Horst.

I know of no other player who shows such passion on the pitch with such consistency. Yeah, he’s made a few missteps, but I’ll forgive a great deal from a player like Horst. I could not possibly love a player more than I did when he went at Wondo after the final whistle blew. And I expect that he might get a slap from the disciplinary committee, but I’m willing to take it because it shows his love, his desire, his passion, his emotion. He is truly one of us.

That’s what this is all about, isn’t it? Heart and passion and emotion. That’s a debate that will rage for as long as soccer survives in this world.

In a contest of skill vs. passion, I will pick passion every single time.

Don’t mistake me. I still believe the talent is there. The ability to fit those pieces together in a way that makes any sense at all is not there. What was that? Square pegs, round holes.

I’m tired. I’m frustrated. I’m rambling. The real blog post, the one I’ve been working on for days, will be submitted to SlideRulePass tomorrow and, should Kevin decide it’s worth putting into the world, will be released well before Saturday’s game.

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2012 in Timbers

 

Stay present

Derby week.

I kind of hate derby week.

I especially hate this one.

There is so much going on. So much vitriol (yes, I totally stole that word from Merritt), so much derision, so much…expectation. The hopes of an entire season rest in this one match.

And I won’t be there.

I’ve struggled with this all week. And I think I’m making the right choice. I know I’m making the right choice. A friend, one of my oldest friends, needs some support and I’m choosing her over the derby. I’ve spent a great deal of time trying to figure out how to be in two places at once but, alas, I’m mortal and I’m needed elsewhere.

“You need to be present where you are.” These are the words one of our elders gives to me when I tell him I won’t be at the match. Be present where you are.

And I give them to you with a few more words: unity, togetherness, family. Those, too, are his words.

So be present in the moment. Remember for me every minute of the match, from two hours before to two hours after. Be present and remember.

Be together. Be united. Be strong and loud and proud and confident. Be an Army. Be the Army that raises this club. Again.

The world will try to tell you that soccer (or football or fitba or whatever you choose to call it) games are won on the pitch and not in the stands but I will tell you otherwise. You impact this game. You influence these players. You can change the run of play. You’ve done it before. You will do it again.

Do it for me. Bring me three points and the Cascadia Cup.

 
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Posted by on September 14, 2012 in Timbers

 

I’ve been joking about it for a while…

As the season drags on, with every minute of every miserable match, I get just a little closer to having my Chris Cooper Moment.

Don’t know what I’m talking about?

Check this out.

I was there for that match. I wasn’t sitting very far from where Chris had his moment of clarity. I didn’t know it at the time, but it’s shaped a lot of how I’ve viewed this season.

Despite what you may think if you only know me from my online persona, I’m not a super-emotional person. I don’t get crazy-excited about many things. I’m not incredibly demonstrative. I’m shy, I tend to keep to myself. For the most part, if I can possibly avoid the spotlight, I do everything in my power to do so.

And yet, here I am, pouring out words and emotion onto the internet for the world to see.

I watched the game tonight from a bar in SE Portland, a bar I’ve never been to when there wasn’t a soccer game on the big screen over the dining room. I sat at a table with people I didn’t know two years ago and I shouted at the tv more than once. In a bar. With strangers.

At my table were two other writers, a winemaker and an elementary school teacher. In various corners of the room were a 107ist board member, the founder of the Timbers Army, a girl I used to work with, and a guy who said some ridiculous things about me elsewhere on the internet.

We unite to support this team. We suffer as one.

I’ve been asked by non-Timbers friends why I put myself through all of this.

Simple.

I can’t remember what my life was like before I found myself in the midst of all of this, this whirling, churning tornado of hopes and dreams and frustration and insanity.

“The thing about football – the important thing about football – is that it is not just about football.”
― Terry Pratchett

That’s the thing. Terry Pratchett, who I do not in any way associate with soccer, hit the nail on the head. It’s not just about the game. It’s about everything surrounding the game. It’s about the relationships formed, friendships created through mutual celebration or mutual frustration.

And this. This is where a lot of us have spent most of the season:

“Yes, yes, I know all the jokes…But I went to Chelsea and to Tottenham and to Rangers, and saw the same thing: that the natural state of a football fan is bitter disappointment, no matter what the score.” – Nick Hornby

And, to be perfectly honest, I wouldn’t trade a minute of that bitter disappointment for a minute of peaceful, blissful unawareness.

I just got a message from an internet friend in a city to the north, a city I’ve come to think of as a stronghold of the enemy, asking if I’m okay.

“I’ll be okay,” I tell him. “I’m an emotional creature. Rather, this miserable game has made me an emotional creature. It has changed me. For the better.”

 
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Posted by on September 7, 2012 in Timbers

 

And I suppose this is where the next rant goes.

Here’s another one where I don’t even know where to start.

The beginning, I suppose. Always best to start at the beginning.

I’m amazed at the connections that link us. Sure, the most basic is that we come together once a week or so, eight or nine months out of the year, to cheer on a soccer team we all follow. But our net is cast much wider than that.

That guy I ran into pre-match? I know he and his mother-in-law from a writing group we’re all involved in that causes much gnashing of teeth each November. That capo over there? She went to high school with one of my best friends. They were on dance team together. This blogger I just met? He learned to play bass from a guy whose band I used to follow around in high school a very, very long time ago.

We are a community. We are a community of artists and writers and winemakers and IT guys and teachers and students and doctors and political activists on both sides of the aisle.

At the center of our community is our gathering place, our place of worship, our cathedral.

If Jeld-Wen Field is our cathedral, we are her congregation. Her rowdy, loud, passionately invested congregation.

And, like any thinking congregation, we sometimes find fault with our clergy.

And sometimes the church protects her clergy to the detriment of her congregation.

Well, guess what? Portland, though often touted as one of the “least churched” areas in the country, is home to a pretty fair number of Lutherans.

You know what that means?

We have a tendency to rant, write treatises and address the wrongdoings of those who lead our church. We make lists and nail them to doors.*

Yeah. I just tied Martin Luther to the Timbers. I. Just. Did. That.

So, last night, minutes before the game, I got a tip from a tweet that this had happened:

I wanted to communicate that there were several sings/banners at the last match they we felt crossed the line that will not be allowed up at this match. Our policy is that signage will not be allowed if they represent a personal attack on any of our players or staff. Any signage in the stadium that does make a personal (as opposed to professional) attack on our staff will be removed. Any resistance from fans regarding this will also result in those fans being asked to leave the stadium. We will continue respect the right of our fans to voice their opinions and appreciate the dialogue that we’ve had so far on this issue. Please share this with your membership as you see fit before tonight’s match. (Email sent from Chris Wilson, Timbers Director of Ticket Services, to the Timbers Army 107ist board)

Dare I switch metaphors mid-post? Our FO has fired a warning shot over the bow.

I know several folks have asked for clarification as to which banners crossed the line from professional to personal but, as yet, being a holiday weekend, no such clarification has been forthcoming. From my vantage point, I didn’t see anything that I thought was egregious. Perhaps I’m not as sensitive as the ginger on the sidelines.

Here’s the thing: Gavin is controversial. He says things that are inappropriate for a man in his position. His reputation for tossing his players under the proverbial bus is well-documented. He has, in the past, taken aim at the TA and knows the backlash that results from such a move.

But, somehow, a few banners in the North End are too much for him to handle? Spare me.

If we miss out on a playoff spot (we’re not officially out yet, you know), will it because the #GWout banners were so incredibly distracting to the coaching staff and the players? Nope.

Will it be because we’ve recruited a bunch of really good players and haven’t figured out how to slot them together into a consistent, winning side? Yup.

And whose fault is that? Gavin. Let’s remember one more time that this is the guy who, as interim coach, said he’d done all the coaching he could do. If I remember correctly, that was about two games into his tenure as interim. So, #GWin folks, please turn your attention to Sean McAuley. #McAuleyIN.

But, beyond this, we all need to be paying more attention. There’s something afoot in MLS: The Fort, Teddy Montoya’s lifetime ban in Colorado, the crackdown on the Texian Army in the spring, rumors of bans from other stadiums for minor infractions. That our own front office, the FO whose relationship with its team’s supporters group is a model for the rest of the league, would threaten us in such a way is unacceptable.

I’m becoming increasingly suspicious of every single word that comes from anyone in the FO. Is this another attempt to spin the story? Maybe, but I have absolutely no idea which story they’d be spinning. It was a fun week of Timbers news capped off by a win. What’s to spin? Or was it the other way around? Does all of this week’s good will make us more likely to settle down and play nice?

Cleats up, Timbers fans. And eyes open.

*Please do not interpret this as my suggestion that you actually nail something to a door at the field. Don’t. Do. That. That’s what email is for.

 
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Posted by on September 3, 2012 in Timbers

 

Just a quick (non-ranting) note.

I’m considering possibilities for the future of this blog.

I certainly didn’t set out to be a Timbers blogger but that’s seems to be what’s happened. There’s little else I write about that brings about this amount of passion – from myself or from those around me.

I’m grateful for the response. Truly. You all have reminded me of a time when I thought I would grow up to be a writer. Turns out I did. Just in a much, much different way that I had ever considered.

I posted a piece last night on Slide Rule Pass. I consider it an honor to be given space on SRP as I respect the work Kevin’s done there covering the Timbers and the soccer world as a whole. His knowledge is vastly superior to mine and I’m humbled to be in any way associated with Slide Rule Pass.

For the time being, I think most of my Timbers-related posts will go up there first and be reposted here later for archival purposes. Unless there’s some time-sensitive Timbers thing that happens, new content here will be back to normal. Whatever that was.

Heads up in October. That’s when it all gets wacky. I start posting recipes for apple sauce and talking about Halloween lore.