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A weird thing happened today. On the other side of the world, my little Scottish team played another little Scottish team in the second leg* of a cup tie. It wasn’t televised.

Due to some weird scheduling, the game went up against a Champions League match (or maybe it was two, I don’t know), and because of the tv rights or some such nonsense, no one could air it.

It’s rare that I see Rangers play. It’s even more rare that I see them in real-time. I catch clips here or there, mostly from Rangers TV or whatever bits and pieces are posted to YouTube, but it’s not ideal. There’s no way to capture the feeling of being in the stadium, of being surrounded by supporters.

As the game drew closer, Twitter was buzzing. An estimated 8,000 Rangers supporters travelled to Rugby Park. Ingress was difficult; away supporters were still outside, trying to get in, with ten minutes on the clock. Those that were inside found the away sections cramped, leaving spectators standing in the aisles.

And we know this because of Twitter.

And, because of Twitter, we were able to find a few people with the good sense (I know: this is debatable) to hold their cell phones aloft and broadcast bits of the game via Periscope.

Under normal circumstances, this is not something I would advocate. There are rights and regulations and copyrights and trademarks and things in play. This is me literally saying to you,”Don’t do this. DO NOT DO THIS. Put your phone away, you idiot.”

But today, people did this. And I clicked the links. And I watched a bit on my lunch hour at work. When I clocked back in to work, I listened.

There was a special kind of magic there, in just listening to the ambient sounds of a soccer match being played on the other side of the world. I can’t tell you what plays were made, or if fouls were correctly called, or if the Killie goal was well-taken. I can tell you that I was caught up in the sounds of the crowd, the ups and downs, the frustration of a near miss, the polite applause following, the absolute pandemonium after Rangers’ second goal. It was as if I was there, in the stadium, shoulder to shoulder with other supporters. It was amazing.

The whistle blew. Rangers 2-1 over Killie. The stadium erupted. Or, rather, the space around the Periscoper I was listening to at the time erupted.

And I’m back in Columbus, watching my friends dance at the final whistle of MLS Cup. And I’m in the lawyers’ living room watching the final minutes in Dallas on tv. And I’m in the press box in Vancouver watching Diego Chara put the ball into the back of the net.

This was the shortest offseason we’ve known as Timbers supporters. In a few days, we’ll be back in our stadium. Until today, I didn’t think I was ready. I needed more time.

Listening to a game played half a world a way changed that. I’m ready.

 

 

*I’m told it was a replay, not a second leg. I know nothing about soccer. I knew even less about the mysterious ways of the SFA.

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Posted by on February 16, 2016 in Rangers, Timbers

 

Aftermath

My traveling companions are and I are in Detroit. It’s December 7, the Day After the Big Thing, and we’re slowly making our way back to the west coast.

We’ve listened to the Will Johnson interview where he says he expects to play somewhere other than Portland in 2016. It’s not even online yet and won’t be for another twelve hours.

This is what we talk about now that we have the silverware. We’ve paused our celebration in order to travel halfway across the country and sleep in our own beds but we’re already looking to what will happen in the coming days and weeks.

“Blow it up.”

And that’s pretty much what’s happened.

Jorge Villafana to Santos Laguna. Michael Nanchoff to Tampa Bay. Maxi Urruti to FC Dallas. Will Johnson to Toronto FC. Options declined on Jeanderson, Paparatto, WeberAnd news today broke that Rodney Wallace isn’t re-signing.

Blow. It. Up.

With the salary cap as it is, there was no way that Cup-winning team was going to stay entirely intact. We know that. We knew it before we left the stadium in Columbus.

***

Knowledge doesn’t negate emotion. It’s not easy to let go of players we’ve watched for years, players who brought us our first MLS Cup. But there isn’t a single player on the squad who isn’t replaceable.

Dear god, when did I become the voice of reason? Heh. Roughly three years ago.

So take a few days to mourn. The wheels are turning faster and faster. The boys are back in training January 23rd.

We’re almost done with the shortest offseason in Timbers history.

 

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2016 in Timbers

 

Disappointed.

He said it over and over.

Disappointed.

Caleb Porter, who came in like a lion at the beginning of the 2013 season and has faded to mere lamb status, is disappointed.

Me, too, love. Me, too.

I’m disappointed in the play, the lack of energy, the loss of focus. I’m disappointed that the Timbers have reached this point in the season without ever really hitting their stride. I’m disappointed that this might *be* their stride: a slow, plodding stumble toward the offseason.

I’m disappointed enough that I don’t even have the energy to be angry about it.

There were legends in the stadium today, Timbers from seasons past whose stories are told over and over. They are the players who have gifted us this legacy. Tommy Potl. Scot Thompson. Johhhhnnnn Baaaaaain. Come on. How do you not use that as motivation to push ahead and get the draw most everyone predicted?

How do you not use those predictions of a draw as motivation to push even harder and get the full three points?

How do you just watch the ball hit the back of the net without so much as moving in its general direction?

Dissapointing. Disappointed.

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2015 in Timbers

 

Porter speaks

Honestly, it’s like you guys have never seen Caleb Porter respond to questions before.

I’ve watched today’s post-training piece twice. Jamie Goldberg from The Oregonian posted it here if you haven’t seen it yet. If you haven’t, you should.

It’s got a bunch of people all wound up. Words I’ve seen used to describe Porter in that video today include the following:

Dick
Dickhead
Douche
Condescending

I’ve also seen people suggest that his snark (something that’s present on a regular basis) is due to some insecurity, that perhaps he’s finally found himself in the hot seat.

Nope. This is a guy that’s pretty comfortable where he is. This is a guy whose boss is happy with his performance.

I went back and read some of the things I’ve written about Porter since he landed in 2013. This is the one that still strikes a chord:

I feel kind of like he’s been invited over for dinner, a really great dinner, and arrives to find a bowl of Grapenuts and a host who spends the entire evening apologizing for the mess.

If there is a hint of frustration when Porter speaks, I’d guess it’s because he’s still looking at that bowl of Grapenuts and wondering when the Beef Wellington’s going to arrive at the table.

 
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Posted by on May 4, 2015 in Timbers

 

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Are you having fun?

A bunch of different things have happened over the last few days in Soccerlandia. We’ve been arguing about scarves, we watched a team get parted out and, my personal favorite part of this week, Ted Westervelt called me “plastic.” Then he backtracked and called the Timbers plastic. Or something. I don’t even know.

A friend of mine, a friend I might not have made were it not for soccer, tweeted something disturbing a couple days ago. She suggested that becoming a supporter of a professional soccer team was perhaps the single worst decision she’d made in the last five years.

She doesn’t mean it. It’s just that some days are much, much more frustrating than others.

I’ve spent a lot of time over the last few weeks considering the advice of someone I consider one of my “soccer elders.” It’s a question he asked me a couple years ago and has posed several times since: if it’s not fun anymore, why do it?

I’ll say this out in public, this thing that I’ve said to just a few people in private: parts of the last year in Soccerlandia have not been fun for me. Very little of that not-fun-feeling is actually tied to the game. It’s the crazy that surrounds it: the internet trolls and the my-support-is-bigger-than-yours folks and politics of supporters’ culture and and and…

Meh. Sometimes, I just want to watch the game. I want to go to the stadium or the local bar and have a beer and watch the game with my friends. That’s it.

I don’t want to argue pro/rel. I don’t want to worry that the management of the league (MLS, NWSL or otherwise) will eventually spell doom for my club (or anyone else’s). I don’t want to guess what the rules for allocation or expansion drafts are. I don’t want to wonder when the players who are playing for other teams overseas during the North American offseason are going to show up. I don’t care that Arsene thinks MLS is a retirement league, or that Jurgen’s way of doing things doesn’t mesh with what Don thinks. I don’t want to wonder if Craig Whyte’s been arrested or if Hope Solo’s trial is being set over again.

I just want to watch the game. I cannot wait for the offseason to be over.

In our earlier Twitter discussion, I asked Ted when the last time was that he actually enjoyed a game. He didn’t answer.

That makes me sad.

 
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Posted by on November 20, 2014 in ThornsFC, Timbers

 

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A thin (red) line between love and hate

I fell in love again last night.

I fell in love with the bartender who called me “pretty lady” during happy hour before the game. I fell in love with they Arsenal boys in 210 and the knitting ladies of 108. I fell in love with the ladies who sat to my left and right and the gentleman who sat behind me and bought me drinks. I fell in love with Timbers Jim and Joey and the guy in the ADA section in front of us with the flashing disco lights on his chair whose name I do not know.

I fell in love with billowing smoke and waving flags and the songs we’ve sung a thousand times.

I fell in love with the movement on the field, with Caleb Porter’s cheeky footwork on the touchline, with every bit of Diego Valeri.

With two games left in the regular season, I’m lovestruck.

Lovestruck, but not blind to the reality of the Timbers’ situation.

Two games left and hovering near the red line, hoping another team drops points.

The social media firestorm today was, as we all know, focused on a game the Timbers won’t play.

Vancouver, currently on 43 points and nestled just below the Timbers (45 points) in the Western Conference standings, will travel to play Seattle, a team that’s safely tucked into a playoff berth and currently at the top of the division. With a win, Vancouver overtakes the Timbers’ current above-the-red-line position and retains the Cascadia Cup.

I like Vancouver. It’s a great city. I like Canadians. The Southsiders I’ve had the pleasure of meeting have been nothing but delightful, even that one that I hold responsible for my February bout with food poisoning. If the Cup can’t come home to Portland, I’d rather it stay in Canadaland where I know it will be safe and properly looked after.

But a Whitecaps win digs a hole for the Timbers to (again) climb out of in order to secure a playoff spot.

A Seattle friend (yes, I have those) asked me to explain why Portland folks would be so opposed to even remotely, quietly, privately cheering for a Seattle win.

It’s complicated. Some feel this hatred of Seattle so deeply that, despite a Seattle win increasing Portland’s playoff hopes, there’s no possible way they could or would cheer for it.

I can’t get behind that. It isn’t because of any deeply-rooted hatred of Seattle. It’s because I hate math.

More specifically, I hate late-season, point-scraping math wherein we desperately need to take every point AND desperately hope that at least one of our rivals drops points.

Win outright. Win early. Win often. Don’t hang your hopes on another team’s results.

If the points fall in such a way that the Timbers find themselves in the playoffs, this will all be forgotten again. We’ll be told that it doesn’t really matter how we got there. Sliding in ass-backward counts just the same as finishing the season at the top of the league.

The Timbers were nine games into the season before notching their first win. Nine games, two full months into the season. Five draws and three losses came before game nine, a 3-2 win over DC United, the only Eastern Conference team to have clinched a playoff spot thus far.

So, I don’t care that the Timbers front office thought it was a good idea to give us permission to root for our rivals. Honestly, I thought it was cute, if misguided. Nobody’s perfect.

Regardless of tomorrow’s result, it’s possible that we won’t know for sure what our postseason looks like until after the Timbers’s final regular season match on the 25th. I need a hug.

Friday, October 10
Vancouver at Seattle, 7 p.m.

Friday, October 17
Real Salt Lake at Portland, 7 p.m.

Saturday, October 18
Vancouver at San Jose, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, October 25
Portland at Dallas, 5:30 p.m.
Colorado at Vancouver, 7 p.m.

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2014 in Timbers

 

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Snapshots

Today was another one of those days that, when I look back over it, is comprised of snapshots.

Sitting in the parking garage at 8:30 this morning, waiting for my phone to charge.

The concern at only finding a handful of people at the airport when I got there and the ensuing contentedness when we were joined by several dozen others.

The moment when one of the PDX security guards revealed her season ticket holder status. And then the moment when she had her picture taken with a returning Thorn.

The tears in the eyes of players when they saw us, waiting for them, despite their loss in Kansas City.

Leaving the airport while, presumably, Nadine was still hugging people and thanking them for coming.

The walk to the stadium with Nissa. Non-welcoming gestures toward the ECS buses.

A mimosa at Oscar Drake’s. A hug from steward Greg. Heidi flinching every time I moved. More hugs from Sunshine and Shecky and Chris and Kris and Nick and Cindy.

Singing for Special Olympics players. Gorgeous tifo.

Adi’s first goal. Passing the log slice up into the 200s. Resignation.

A few friends at a crappy Mexican restaurant. Something about too much lettuce and a margarita that was too tart. Delicate palates.

An Irish bar, a dram of whisky, laughing at the impossible-to-follow conversation between the Irishman and the Argentine. The warm, fuzzy feeing brought on by a shared distaste.

This was my Sunday in Soccer City, USA. We greeted our returning Thorns the morning after their playoff loss in Kansas City. We filled ProPark for the Timbers, only to watch them lose 4-2 to our most contentious rival.

The results of each game are momentary. It’s everything else that I hope to remember. Much love to all of you.

 
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Posted by on August 24, 2014 in ThornsFC, Timbers