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Category Archives: Timbers 2013

I don’t know what this is.

I’m afraid to get excited.

Halfway through the season. One loss.

One loss. That’s it.

Earlier in the week, the Timbers rose to the top of the power rankings. I think I tweeted something at the time about being filled with dread. And then we took four more points and moved to the top of the league table.

And now I honestly don’t know what to do with myself.

An embarrassment of riches. That’s what we have here. An absolute embarrassment.

I know lots of people are letting their guard down and I’ll admit I did very early in the season. I think it was after our first match when I declared that we would win the league. But I’m over that.

I feel more cautious, more guarded than I ever have. A fifteen-game unbeaten streak and I’m still a little stormcloud. I don’t know what it’s going to take to get past this.

Simplest answer? Three cups and a shield.

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2013 in Timbers 2013

 

The good news and the bad news.

Here’s all the good news:

The road curse is broken. We can win on the road. We didn’t today, but it still felt like we did.

This is a team that will fight back. They go down a goal and they find a way to pull one back. Tonight, they did this twice. TWICE.

This new Timbers team has learned to adjust. Early injury, stupid red card, flailing-diver-Camilo-shenanigans: none of it seemed to matter. It was all taken in stride. Adjustments were made and a point was earned.

So, here we are, a third of the way through the season. One of our TA elders pointed out to me a few days ago that, should the Timbers continue on their current path, they will finish the season with only three losses. I think this is both ridiculous and, after watching tonight’s game, possible.

I watched the game today in the company of one of Portland’s most elusive bloggers. The Timbers were down by one when He Who We Call By Another Name predicted a 2-1 scoreline.

“Them? Or us?” I asked.

He was pretty confident that we’d win but I, as I was in full stormcloud mode, wasn’t so sure. Odds are we’re going to lose again eventually. We agreed we’d rather not have that loss come during a Cascadia Cup match.

And there’s the bulk of the bad news: at some point, this team is going to lose a match. And we’re all going to come undone. And I’ll probably take a short sabbatical from social media because y’all are crazy.

But, for now, I’m going to enjoy this. It’s fun, isn’t it?

Thorns tomorrow. Timbers U23s on Tuesday. If I don’t see you at one, I’ll expect to see you at the other.

Onward, Rose City.

 
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Posted by on May 18, 2013 in Timbers 2013

 

Finding love: who will be The One?

He’s asked me again. The same question, now for the third time.

“I know you say there will never be another Boyd, but….” He pauses and I know what he’s trying to get at.

Who’s my guy? There’s always one, right? One that stands out. One for whom I become something of a (literal and figurative) standard-bearer.

I don’t have one. I have players I like. I have players I’m disappointed aren’t playing. I don’t have The One.

And I don’t know when or if one will set himself apart and become The One.

***

I was asked last week to write player ratings for the Chivas match for a footy website and, after explaining to the editor in no uncertain terms that I know NOTHING about soccer, he insisted and I relented.

It isn’t something I’m comfortable with. I rarely read player ratings and, when I do, it’s the most cursory of readings. I know enough to talk about heart and passion and I can give a brief, surface-level opinion on individual performances of players, but I’m not confident about doing any sort of in-depth analysis. There are absolutely better people for this particular gig (as was pointed out to me by people on Twitter) but, the opportunity presented itself and, after arguing with both myself and the editor, I took it.

I don’t know if it’s something I’ll do again anytime soon. The ratings that are up on the site are heavily edited; that’s just the nature of the business. Anyone who reads my stuff with any regularity will be able to easily extract which parts are mine and which were added in post. Plenty of special effects in that particular piece. I don’t say this to complain, I’m happy to have had the experience. First press credential since the mid ’90s.

What does this have to do with me deciding, or letting my silly, emotional, fickle heart choose The One?

Well, that, in and of itself, is my version of a player rating. Ridiculous, but true.

So here, Nomad rates the players:

Donovan Ricketts
I like him. I like him more and more. And yes, I will vote for him every single time he’s up for Save of the Week. I know this is considered homerism and is uncouth, but it’s one of the few things I can do to give him any indication of how much I appreciate him.

He came to us injured last season and got dropped into the middle of a hurricane of hostility. “Upgrade” became an insult, one I myself hurled more than once. And there is no apology big enough for me to issue to good Mr. Ricketts.

He started off the season a bit stiff, slow to commit and even slower to get up when he went to ground. But he has gained confidence, he has regained presence, and he has become really interesting to watch.

Andrew Jean-Baptiste
I don’t know. He’s a big kid and he’s still learning but I just don’t know. I wasn’t able to pinpoint anything in the Chivas match that really made him stand out and I’m still remembering how he got played by Blas in Dallas. He’ll get there, but he’s got work to do.

Jack Jewsbury
Here’s an I Told You So: I was one of the ones calling for him to give up the armband last year. He wasn’t carrying the captaincy the way I would like to have seen it carried. And, as it turns out, I was right that he shouldn’t be captain.

I will naively say now that I think it weighed him down, though that’s not how I saw it at the time. With that weight lifted and with a shift in his on-pitch placement, he’s been freed to do the things he needs to do, the things he’s most comfortable doing. And it’s working. He looks younger, more energized. He looks like he’s having more fun.

(A side note here: I’m not referring to him as the “club captain.” I still don’t know what that means. As far as I’m concerned, he’s the cruise director from now on. Cruise director = fun. And he’s definitely having fun.)

Michael Harrington
I love Mikey. I love him because he’s funny on Twitter and he has crazy hair and, despite the fact that he was worn out early in the Chivas match, he just kept going.

Mikey’s usually good for one or two oopses in each match and Chivas was no different. But the thing with Mikey is that his mistakes are mostly minor, he knows when he makes them and he doesn’t hide from them. He just gets back in the game.

Futty Danso
Damn, Futty. Why were you spending so much time on the bench?

I had to go back and watch a replay of the match to do the original ratings mostly because I spent most of this game watching Futty. After the expected backbones of our back line (now THERE’S a terrible turn of phrase) have been sidelined by injury, he has stepped in and skillfully picked up the slack.

I thought he was done. A few minutes here or there as a sub, maybe a few reserves matches, and then shuffled off somewhere or retired. But he’s doing the job that needs to be done and is bringing confidence and a bit of calm with him. I like that.

Will Johnson
I thought Will was uncharacteristically quiet in the Chivas match. He was here. He put in a full shift. He did what he does best: he took no crap from anyone.

And then something snapped. A really good chance at a goal and then a really good goal. After that first chance, I would have come away shocked if he hadn’t followed it up with at least one more. And he did, and it became a nominee for MLS Goal of the Week.

Diego Valeri
Valeri, like Harrington, looked tired, but kept moving. He’s like a dancer; he moves with grace and finesse, with the self-assured confidence of a bullfighter (yes, I know bullfighting has been outlawed in Argentina for over a century).

I dare you not to picture him in a matador’s costume. Go on. Try not to. I win.

Diego Chara
Diego Chara is Diego Chara. I don’t think he can help it. He continues to be Diego Chara regardless of what’s happening elsewhere in the world or on the pitch. And I’m fine with that.

Ryan Johnson
He’s good and he’s going to get better, but there’s a part of me that hopes he never loses a bit of a rough edge or his ability to channel the Dike Smash we’ve been missing whilst the actual Dike is out with injuries.

(For the record, my definition of “Dike Smash” is very different than the one that wound up in the post on the other site.)

Darlington Nagbe
Dear Darlington,

Please prove me wrong, one way or the other, and let’s be done with it.

I’ve said all along that I know you have the talent, but you seem to have some other sort of block that’s preventing you from accessing said talent. In addition to that, stop being a delicate flower. Try not to get pushed off the ball so much. You’re better than that.

Rodney Wallace
I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.

As previously stated here and on Twitter, I’ve talked a line of shit about RodWall, but he’s a third of the way through what will be recorded as a break-out year for him. His skills are showing where they weren’t quite as obvious before. And, looking back, I can absolutely appreciate his attitude while waiting for his turn to come.

Kalif Alhassan
I dunno. Jazz hands.

Ben Zemanski
I wasn’t sure about him, but he’s growing on me. I just wonder if he suffers from the same affliction that Eric Alexander had: the ability to start and be really good but to falter as a late-game sub when he doesn’t settle in fast enough. Let’s notch a few more wins and then give him the start, okay?

Frederic Piquionne
I loved him in Dallas. He’s a tornado. And, as much as I love to see that burst of energy as a late-game sub, I’d put him in the eleven against Vancouver.

So, there it is. Apologies if there appear to be some words missing. WordPress just tried to give me a heart attack.

***

And, after all of that, I still don’t have The One.

 
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Posted by on May 18, 2013 in Timbers 2013

 

Wishing.

Sometimes we forget.

We get caught up in the day to day drama, the Twitter squabbles, the trade rumors, the silliness, and we forget.

We forget the simple fact that, while we may have all come together to watch a few soccer games, what’s been created here is about much, much more than a game.

I’m going to steal a few words from my friend Matthew here: I spent part of my day today with 3,000 of my friends in what he endearingly likened to a cheesy ’80s sports movie. And it was amazing.

There’s a little boy in Portland named Atticus. He’s eight and was diagnosed with cancer some time back. But he’s a neat kid, a strong kid, and he’s fought back and, when Make-A-Wish offered to grant him a wish, he didn’t want something for himself. He wanted something for his soccer team.

And today, in Portland, the Portland Timbers and their Timbers Army delivered.

I’ve waxed poetic here before about my absolute love for this club and this Army, but this went above and beyond anything I’ve yet experienced with either.

In the middle of the day on a Wednesday, when most of us should have been at work, 3,000 people filled the North End of Jeld-Wen Field to see Atticus’ team, the Green Machine, take on the Timbers.

The scoreline didn’t match the effort on the field, with the Green Machine narrowly edging out the Timbers just before the final whistle. It was obvious to everyone, despite the Timbers fielding a side that included national team players and Olympians, that the Green Machine was the superior team. Heart, courage, teamwork. We could all take a few cues from Atticus and his teammates.

I’ve tried in the past to explain this community to people who see it from the outside and I’ve failed miserably. This is about more than being a sports fan, about more than keeping track of your team’s wins or losses. This is about…everything.

Again, I’m at a loss for words. So, in lieu of anything more from me, I’ll give you the links to the stuff that’s good.

Deadspin

The Timbers match recap.

Stumptown Footy’s ref report.

The only time I’ll ever link to a Cubbie story for a good reason.

A little thing our friend Wayne Garcia put together for Fox12.

And this. This will make you cry.


Thank you, Timbers. Thank you, Timbers Army.

I love you.

 
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Posted by on May 1, 2013 in Timbers 2013

 

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Credit where credit is due

I was sitting up in the top deck of Centurylink Field in October with a couple of other bloggers when the starting eleven for the Timbers hit Twitter.

Now, I didn’t know these guys very well at the time. We’d met once or twice in passing and I’d read the blog they both write for regularly. I don’t think any of the three of us were prepared for the collective rage and fury we expressed when Rod Wallace’s name was there in the eleven.

Rage and fury. And swearing. Lots of swearing.

RodWal seemed to find himself in the middle of stupid most of last season and he was on the list of players I was ready to offload as soon as our last match was done. But some sort of sacrificial offering was made and he wound up with an extended contract.

I’ve never been so happy to be wrong about someone as I am to have been wrong about Rodney Wallace. Let this serve as my personal apology to him.

He’s done the work, he’s picked up the pace and he’s remade himself into what he should have been in the beginning: a warrior.

In the bar where I was watching the match yesterday, my sentiment was shared by those around me. There was a delighted sense of disbelief. Is this the same guy? Where did this come from?

We’ve been seeing it build for a bit, this transformation. New coach, new attitude, new guys around him who know what it’s like to win and won’t settle for anything less. Someone last night said Wallace deserved a goal and, minutes later, he got it. And I couldn’t be happier for him.

I like this new Rod Wallace. Let’s keep him.

 
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Posted by on April 28, 2013 in Timbers 2013

 

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Differences: my support is bigger than your support

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This image (meme credit to Andrew Brawley) has been circulating since the Portland-Seattle derby match Saturday. For those unfamiliar, it’s a few fools from the Emerald City Supporters burning a Timbers Army No Pity scarf pre-match.

The scarf sells at the merch van for $10, though the one in the photo is a USL-era scarf that the burners either stole from someone, saved and cared for for years or paid a ridiculous amount of money for on eBay.

Regardless of where the scarf came from, it’s a despicable display. I say this knowing that there are folks in the TA that, should they find themselves in possession of an ECS scarf would set that sucker on fire immediately.

Not my style. I don’t think I should have to pull these kinds of stunts to prove how hard I am, how ultra I am. I’m not ultra. Neither are the bandana-covered fools in the picture. Not ultra, just stupid.

I’d like to believe we support differently in Portland. We choose to build up our team, our town and each other rather than focus on bringing the other team down. Where Seattle and San Jose tifo has taken shots at us, we honor our club, our city and the legends who brought us all together. While our northern counterparts are pre-gaming by burning things in the streets, we’re planting trees and volunteering at the Oregon Food Bank and shelving books in elementary schools and holding blood drives.

(But then we take to Twitter to call each other n00bs for using cell phones at Jeld-Wen. Whatever. When you get a handle on the drunken fools starting fights in the 100s, you can come yell at me and my rogue cell phone usage in the 200s.)

Wait. What was I talking about again?

Oh, right. Support in Portland is different than support in Seattle. This will always be the case. This will always be an argument between supporters groups. And we will always be on the right side of history. If Jeld-Wen Field is our cathedral, our trinity is this: Team, Town, TA.

A tweet went out today with a link to a post on the 107ist message boards. A member of our board of directors (rather, a former member now) has been diagnosed with cancer. She’s stepped back from her board duties in order to (for perhaps the first time ever) put her health and well-being first.

As is our custom, when word got out about Joanne’s diagnosis, people immediately wanted to create a scarf to raise money for her. She refused. I’m sure she said something like,”Oh, don’t be silly” and when she said it, whoever was there to hear it thought it was adorable because, well, accents are adorable.

So, instead of a scarf, Kyle (who leads us in ’80s television theme song-based chants at reserves matches) has suggested we donate to the Gisele Currier Memorial Fund. You can read about Gisele and the scholarship fund that honors her here. If you do donate, and I hope you will, please note “For Joanne” in the comment section of your donation.

***

While I was writing this, word broke on Twitter that the Southsiders, the Vancouver Whitecaps supporters group, has lost one of their own. Leighanne loved her Whitecaps and her Canucks and was a breast cancer survivor. You can read the Southsiders news flash here and you can donate to the BC Breast Cancer Foundation in her honor here.

We offer prayers of comfort and healing to Leighanne’s husband Mark and to their Southsider brethren.

***

Apologies for this being a mess of a post. The next one will be better, I swear.

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2013 in Timbers 2013

 

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Magic

Your Magic is Real.

There is a magic here: in this town, among these people. There is a magic I do not fully comprehend, a magic that brings us together and keeps us from killing each other and drives us to greater heights as a whole than we could ever reach individually.

Magic.

I felt it tonight as I haven’t felt it for longer than I care to admit. I love you people. That’s what this shared magic will do.

What we saw tonight is the beginning of something that none of us has yet seen. And when I say “none”, I mean quite literally that: from the weathered OGs to the newest of the MLS-era fans. None.

Grit, drive, determination. Forcefulness.

Yes, there were lapses in defense that need to be corrected right quick, but there was so much more. The two Diegos, the two Johnsons, AJB. Stunning play. Did I see a stat that put us at nearly 500 completed passes tonight? To NYRB’s 249? I’ll take that as a starting point.

And I’ll take Will Johnson not putting up with any sort of crap from anyone and, quite literally, throwing people (and their assorted Gatorade bottles) off the pitch.

I didn’t expect this, our first regular season match, to be The Point at Which I Declare Victory, but here we are.

Magic, I tell you.

Two weeks ago, one of our TA elders told me he was in line to have Diego Valeri’s babies. I caught him after the match tonight. He’s still in line, but now he’s in line for Ryan Johnson’s babies, too. So great is our love.

So, this week will be spent reliving and replaying and overanalyzing as we do. And Saturday will come with agonizing slowness.

Magic. Prepare yourselves accordingly.

 
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Posted by on March 3, 2013 in Timbers 2013

 

Falling in love again.

“Do you have a new favorite player?” he asks. It’s 8 o’clock on Monday. We’re in the final week of the offseason or the preseason or whatever it is. This in-between time. This time devoid of games that matter.

We’ve seen half the team turn over since our last regular season match was played in October. October. It feels like a lifetime ago.

So, in answer, I rattle off a couple of names of players I’ve had my eye on in the preseason. I like them okay, but I’m not ready to commit.

“Let’s face it,” I tell him. “There will never be another Boyd.”

His answer is immediate. “Sure there will.”

Yeah. There probably will.

I’ve stumbled through the preseason, not really feeling connected to this team. My team. I can’t explain it, but I don’t think I’m the only one. I feel like I don’t know these guys. Maybe part of that is me trying to shield myself, trying to protect myself after a wrenching offseason. But I’m still here, despite knowing that the longer I stay, the more likely it is that this club will break my heart. Again and again.

So, yeah, I kinda dig Mikey. I always like the ones that play with heart. And I’m looking forward to seeing Silvestre. The man was tweeting pictures of a beautiful, snowy Paris while complaining about the slowness of the visa process and his desire to return to Portland. How do you not fall in love with him? And I worry about David Horst. Because I always worry about David Horst.

When I finally settle down to sleep tonight, on this Merry Timbers Eve, I’ll sleep well. I don’t carry the expectation of last year or the complete cluelessness of the year before. What I carry is hope and, perhaps, a bit of resignation.

There are more changes to come, of this I’m sure. But what we have (on-field and off) is nothing to sneeze at.

I think we’re going to see a lot more grit. A lot more, as Capt. Will puts it, nastiness. But I think we’ll see more finesse as well. With Valeri out there, that’s a given. Beyond that, I don’t know. Do we retain the Cascadia cup? Do we make a run for a playoff spot? Do we go all the way?

I don’t know, but I’m saving money for plane tickets and hotel reservations anyway.

In the mean time, the sound I hear right now is the most beautiful sound in the world.

It’s the sound of the gathering Army. A reunion, a homecoming, a time among family and loved ones. Let’s have it.

Onward, Rose City.

 
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Posted by on March 3, 2013 in Timbers 2013

 

Whirlpool…

A turbulent situation from which it is hard to escape.

A rapidly rotating mass of water in a river or sea into which objects may be drawn, typically caused by the meeting of conflicting currents.

A magnetic, impelling force into which one may be pulled.

See also: vortex, maelstrom.

Yup.

I left my house last Sunday morning at a ridiculous hour. The things we do for our clubs.

I didn’t take a headcount, but I’d guess somewhere in the neighborhood of fifty TA and associates made the hour-long trek into the coastal Cascades to meet up for the ritual Eating of the Cinnamon Rolls and Blessing of the Victory Log. We sang, we danced (as much as we could without tumbling down the stone steps at Camp18), we licked beer from a log. Well, I didn’t. But others did.

And it was good to be back among family. This offseason has been dark and cold and painful. This was the first step, for me anyway, toward getting back into regular season form.

And then Monday dawned and I hadn’t even had my first cup of coffee before we’d traded away Eric Alexander and that little black cloud that’s been following me around reappeared.

I’m told I get too attached to the players. I’m told this a lot. There’s really no need to keep telling me. I know. And I know it’s a business and business decisions are made in order to create a stronger team. And we’ll all be happier when we get to watch a stronger team.

Yeah. Okay.

But I hope I never reach the point when trading my favorite players doesn’t hurt. Brunner and Smith, Boyd and Alexander, (don’t judge) that little hobbit Fucito. I was looking forward to seeing them all back in ponderosa green this season but it wasn’t meant to be. I’ll get over it, but it’s been a lot of change in a short period of time and anyone who knows me can tell you that I don’t adjust to change as quickly as most people.

But here we are. It’s the night before our return to Jeld-Wen. Our home, our cathedral. It’s TA Christmas.

You know it is.

People are talking about how they’re going to have a hard time sleeping tonight knowing that we’ll all be back at the field tomorrow. For a week, my Twitter and Facebook timelines have been full of daily (and, at some points, hourly) photos of Jeld-Wen in all her glory.

We’re ready. Let’s do this.

Once more into that swirling, churning mass of green and gold we call the North End.

Once more into a sea of possibility, an ocean of hope. Once more into the arms of our brethren, our TA family. Once more.

Once more, after a tumultuous offseason, following on the heels of a craptastic regular season, once more.

Once more we gather.

Once more we find a way to believe beyond reason.

We’re gonna win the league.

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2013 in Timbers 2013