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Monthly Archives: October 2013

Terrified.

Saturday was lovely, wasn’t it?

A group of about fifteen of us gathered for the birthday of a mutual friend. There were only three or four of us who really wanted to watch the game but, by the end of the first half, the entire group was rapt.

I stand in the North End at Jeld-Wen. There, I’m surrounded by people who are passionate and boisterous in their support of their club. They amaze me and inspire me in their love not just for their team, but in their intense civic pride and in their love toward each other.

Being among a group of people who were mostly strangers to me Saturday night was an interesting change. And watching as their attention turned from a card game to a soccer game they’d cared little about just an hour before was amazing.

So, let’s talk about “terrified.” It’s a word I used a few days ago to express my feelings as we approached the Chivas match. Terrified of so many things.

But that’s all gone.

Am I nervous? Yes. But it’s a nervousness bourne of excitement and anticipation. We’re still 48 hours away from knowing who our next opponent will be. And then we’ll be less than 72 hours from our first playoff game of the Timbers’ MLS era. This is uncharted territory.

There’s a piece out there on the net today that asks some oddly-phrased questions. Some of them are answered by local author Michael Orr.

Full disclosure: I know Michael. And I doubt that he sought to speak on behalf of the entirety of the Timbers Army, though the ESPN piece makes it seem that way.

I don’t know anyone who can speak on behalf of the entirety of the Timbers Army. I know I certainly can’t. That’s the beauty of the TA: it serves a different purpose for each of us and each of us has a voice.

Will it be less “special” if the club we support, in the city we love, wins a championship and lifts a trophy? I really don’t see how.

But Jason Davis, the author of the ESPN piece questions this.

Can the Timbers keep up their “authentic” support, support that has lasted through poor soccer and heartbreak alike, if a new wave of fans jump on board? Do the Timbers and the relationship with their fans remain “special” if people who weren’t there before MLS came calling latch onto the team?

Sweetheart, we’re already there. And we’ve flourished. From a dozen people in section 107 at then PGE Park in 2001, to 4,500 standing, chanting, cheering folks in the North End of what is now Jeld-Wen Field, the change has been, at times, overwhelming. But, because of a committed, hard-working core group of diehards, the Timbers Army has already survived its most difficult growing pains. Championship or not, little will change.

Onward, Rose City.

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Posted by on October 28, 2013 in Timbers 2013

 

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Welcome to my nightmare.

I’ve been having this recurring dream since before the Timbers’ last trip to Vancouver that when it came down to this, the last match of the regular season, it would be Chivas that would knock us out of contention for everything.

Well, we’ve secured a playoff match and there’s nothing they can do about that. So, we’re cool, right?

No. We’re very definitely not cool.

With the RSL win over Chivas last night, PTFC sits in second place in the Western Conference, a fine place to be when one considers where we were at this point last year. But there is the potential for so much more. A win against the goats on Saturday puts us back on top. And a loss by New York and a loss or a draw from SKC combined with that potential win, well….

Yeah. So Chivas. It doesn’t happen unless the Timbers take all three points Saturday from Chivas. On the road. In a stadium in which the Timbers have never won.

Keys to success for Chivas? A healthy Dan Kennedy seemed essential, but last night showed us that even their number two keeper has some skills. And they have Torres, little Cubo Torres, who is a force. And Boca, who seems to finally be regaining his stride. And rookie Matt Fondy continues to be sharp as a late-game sub.

And I’m terrified. Of Chivas. That’s how weird this season has been.

The Timbers will play this game, against a club that’s lodged firmly at the bottom of our conference, with everything on the line.

Everything. A loss drops us from the Supporters Shield race but it’s the potential for injury that’s driven my blood pressure ever higher. With Valeri and Urruti currently listed as questionable (though that may be updated tomorrow) and Ricketts needing a short nap around the 70th minute of every match, I’m scared that even the slightest injury to one of our expected starters could mean a shift in momentum, something I don’t want to see going into the playoffs.

***

So, let’s talk about expectations for a minute.

The Timbers are in the playoffs for the first time in their MLS era. That’s a pretty big deal. Few of us expected to see them there. And even fewer of us expected they would still be in the race for the Supporters Shield with one game left to play in the regular season.

I’ll raise my hand and say that I want to win it all. I want that Shield. I want that Cup. I want them.

And, if it turns out that both land in different cities this year, I’ll be momentarily disappointed. But, more than that, I will be content with a season well-played.

A new coach, a team that saw incredible turnover in the offseason, a run deep into the Open Cup tournament and now a playoff spot. That’s a lot for one year.

So, take a deep breath and remember what an amazing ride this has been.

 
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Posted by on October 24, 2013 in Timbers 2013

 

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The most ridiculous PORvSEA preview you’ll find on the interwebs

So, I’ve got a Twitter friend who’s been waiting for a writer to post his match preview for PORvSEA. He’s been waiting for several days. I don’t think he’s really holding out hope that one will come anytime soon and, as the game is in eighteen hours, I offered to help him out, despite the fact that I know nothing about soccer. For posterity, here’s what I told him:

I have no idea what’s going to happen.

I’m still not convinced EJ won’t be in the eighteen.

Somebody’s getting a red card. My money would have been on Zach Scott but, well…

Yedlin’s hair will be a hot mess. If his isn’t, Maxi’s will be. Or both. Probably both.

Kah’s just going to hug people. And he’ll get another yellow.

Fans will be up in arms early in the match when the Porter porter sells out.

Ricketts will pick up some sort of “injury” right around minute 70. Kah may or may not help him tie his shoe. And then hug him.

Many people will make fat jokes about Sigi. I’ll stick with the “What time is it?” “Nine past Gspurning” line.

Valeri and Nagbe will take some serious hits. Valeri will sub out early. Alonso will foul EVERYONE but never see a card.

At some point, Will Johnson will get mad and try to do too much and that’s when Seattle scores.

Rose will be in the 18 and, once again, I will wonder who the hell Rose is. Is he new? wtf.

If Gspurning starts, and I’m not sure he will, he’ll spend the entire match looking very angry.

Alhassan will start and be utterly and completely dire.

Caleb Porter will wear a pinstriped suit and a plaid tie and be dead sexy. (I looked him in the eye from two feet away last week and almost fainted.)

You could have stopped reading at “I have no idea what’s going to happen.” You probably should have.

Derby matches are wildly unpredictable. Red cards, crazy scuffles, insane goals. The intensity of the rivalry brings out the best and the worst in all of us: players and supporters.

This has been the weirdest derby week I’ve yet experienced. A odd quirk in the MLS schedule has given us three Cascadia matches in eight days, late in the season while all three teams are making playoff runs. Drama! Excitement! Heartburn! International travel! And, though the Timbers are out of the Cascadia Cup run, they’ll decide whether the Cup goes to Seattle or Vancouver. So much weird.

So, what do I really think will happen when match time arrives?

We’ll gather at Jeld-Wen, our fortress, our cathedral, our home. We will laugh and dance and sing and more hugs will be exchanged than can be counted.

A game will be played.

We will love deeply: love of team, love of town, love of each other.

The season is growing short. Every game takes on a renewed significance. This could be the year our club reaches the MLS playoffs for the first time. My head is spinning just thinking about it. To be this close to the top of the table this late in the season? Unthinkable a year ago, six months ago.

So, rest up. Drink plenty of water. Eat decent food before the match. Wear warm socks. Try to relax a little.

I’ll be over here with my whisky and my Tums.

 
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Posted by on October 13, 2013 in Timbers 2013