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Category Archives: Timbers 2013

Laughter and faith

Martin Luther was a rebel. A rabble rouser. A bit of a hoolie. He got mad and took a stand and nailed his words to the doors of a church.

And he said some smart stuff.

I’ve been stressed out for the last couple weeks. First with the Chivas nightmares and now with the looming prospect of marching into Centurylink with 1,200 of my friends to watch the Timbers’ first MLS-era playoff match.

It’s a match that has created basically the perfect storm of emotion and sentimentality and heartburn for me and so many people around me. This means everything.

We’re an emotional bunch whether we individually admit to it or not.

I watched the Chivas match last week with people I didn’t know well, people who gave me a bit of a confused, bemused look when I tried to explain to them why I needed to go to the stadium after the game instead of going bowling with them. I stumbled over my words. How do you explain something like that?

You don’t. You just go. You live by following your heart.

And I was happy to find someone at the stadium when I got there, someone who understood a bit of my rambling crazy. For that, and for so many more of you who’ve listened to me or read these onscreen words as I’ve babbled nearly incoherently about love and passion and community and, occasionally, soccer, I am now and will forever be grateful.

Believe beyond reason. We say this over and over. But now, we’re believing within reason.

Which brings me back to Martin Luther.

“You have as much laughter,” Luther said,”As you have faith.”

I’ve been nervous to this point. Nervous and apprehensive and overly-sensitive. But it doesn’t matter. Whatever happens will happen.

I know my club can win. I know they have the right combination of skill and strength and desire. I have faith in them.

And with that, let the laughter begin. Let the stress and the apprehension fade to nothing and be replaced with song and love and laughter.

Onward, Rose City.

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Posted by on November 2, 2013 in Timbers 2013

 

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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

 

A few words about Clint Dempsey

I’m not going to defend Pa Modou Kah’s challenge on Eddie Johnson in Sunday’s game. The replay has firmly planted me in the shoulda-been-a-red camp.

Kah is a force to be reckoned with. We knew this from the get-go. Even in his first couple matches in Ponderosa green, he seemed to be just barely in control. If I remember correctly, he picked up a yellow in his first outing for the Timbers. He plays right on the edge. And he’s good.

A friend today used the word “precious” to describe how US fans treat national team players. And I think it’s the way a lot of us treat our Timbers.

We expect them to be nice, polite, gentlemanly. And then we get upset when they get knocked around. And they get knocked around because they’re nice, polite, gentlemanly.

But times, they are a’ changin’.

Bring on Kah.

Bring on Kah not for his string of yellow cards and challenges that many have called reckless.

Bring on Kah because he isn’t going to take any crap from anyone.

I miss Boyd. Boyd didn’t take crap from anyone. He didn’t suffer fools. He did this:

And Kah, with slightly less finesse, did this:

http://imgur.com/r/MLS/cRyUU4b#.Uh2XkEKr4Sg.link

Different style, same message. We’re not going to take your crap. Don’t be a diva. Get up and play the game.

***

Oh, right. I was going to say a few words about Clint Dempsey. Nah, I don’t have to. Kah already did.

 
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Posted by on August 27, 2013 in Timbers 2013

 

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Unconcerned.

Will Johnson is questionable. We’ve heard everything from a minor sprain to a broken bone in his shoulder.

Fredy Piquionne is most likely out with whatever that foot thing was.

Futty is out.

Chara is out with a handful of yellow cards. But, honestly, who didn’t think that was eventually going to happen?

Horst and Silvestre have both been out since the beginning of time, along with Dike and Richards and who else? I can’t even remember anymore.

And I’m unconcerned. Completely unconcerned.

We’re going to Seattle on Sunday. Our squad is depleted. They’re having a hard time pulling anything more than a draw. We’ve seen what’s possible from this team and we’ve seen games they should have won slip away in the most ridiculous fashion. This is not new for us, but after such a phenomenal start to the season, it may seem unfamiliar to those with shorter memories.

But we have something we didn’t have at this point last year.

These guys get it.

They understand what it means to wear the badge. They understand that we live and breathe with this team. They know the importance a Seattle match carries.

At the beginning of the season, I was concerned about this more than anything. With all of Caleb Porter’s quips about “no game is bigger than another,” I worried that something would be lost.

This was all we had last year. When everything else was said and done, it was the importance of the Cascadia Cup that pushed us forward and, after so many divisive issues over the course of the season, united us. And it was their desire to win it for us that finally brought the Timbers together as a club.

It took them all year to get there, to reach the place where we all stood waiting. And, together, we lifted the Cup.

The difference this year is that they’re already together. You saw it after the USOC loss to Salt Lake and you saw it tonight. There is nothing quite like the weight of a loss (or a draw that should have been a win) to strengthen their resolve to not let it happen again.

So, while almost all of you are FREAKING OUT, I’m unconcerned.

They get it. They’re going to go to Seattle and get us three points and put us at the top of the Cascadia Cup table. They do this not for themselves, but for us.

Now, get on the damn bus.

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2013 in Timbers 2013

 

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The streak is over: remembering.

A year ago, we lost a stupid game at Rio Tinto. A hat trick from Alvaro Saborio and a Diego Chara red card sealed our fate and, as we would know less than 48 hours later, the fate of wee John Spencer. In light of that, I’m thinking the Columbus loss doesn’t seem so bad.

A year ago, I wrote this thing. I was just starting to realize the doom and gloom that being a Timbers supporter could sometimes bring. Two days after that, we were without a coach, without a plan, and without any of the hope and expectation with which we’d begun the season.

A year ago, we had a week to gear up for a home match against the Galaxy, same as we do now. And I’m going to go ahead and call it: the result will be much, much different than last year’s result.

Let me insert here a short note for any Timbers who may read this: under no circumstances do I want to see any Robbie Keane cartwheel goal celebrations in the North End. Shut that shit down. I have no patience for it.

We’ll be without Kah this time around, as we were without Chara last year, due to the red card. And we’ll be without a national team player or two. But, unlike last year, I’m not concerned. If we’ve learned anything about this team, it’s that they will fill the spaces that need to be filled. They play with heart, something sorely lacking in last year’s squad.

Our unbeaten streak ended in Columbus at nineteen games. Meh. Remember: Salt Lake began last summer’s winless streak. From that point forward, we didn’t win a match until the end of August: nine games without a win. I can’t imagine this current team going into a tailspin like that. It won’t happen. Will Johnson will strangle someone with his bare hands before he would let that happen. And if he didn’t? Caleb Porter would step in and give the “I’m not mad, I’m disappointed” dad speech and it would be TERRIFYING.

More and more, I get the feeling that these guys know they play, above all else, for us. Win or lose, I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

 
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Posted by on July 7, 2013 in Timbers 2013

 

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