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Category Archives: Timbers

A perfect night for some footy.

It was another one of those nights.

Calls went against us, the result wasn’t what it should have been, we left the stadium disappointed.

Except I’m not really that disappointed.

I got to spend a few minutes pre-match with a friend who, more than anything right now, needs the family she’s found within the Timbers Army around her. She’s going through stuff I can’t begin to imagine and this, even with this stupid result, was time off from real life: a few hours among caring, supportive friends who would do anything within their power to change things for her if they could.

Inside the stadium before the game began, I had the honor of officiating the marriage of two people I’m proud to call my friends. They’ve been together for years and some of their first dates were Timbers matches. I am honored to have been a part of their celebration and Im proud to live in a place that will now, finally, legally recognize their commitment to each other.

I got to stand next to my friend Heidi, in front of Cindy and Joe, with Gabby and Kevin and Alice and MarySue and so many others who I love dearly. And, when Urruti scored his goal, Kris appeared from I don’t even know where and hugged me so hard I thought he’d broken my shoulder.

This is soccer in Portland.

We love the game, this beautiful and sometimes painful game. We love our players, even those whose faults outweigh their talents. We breathe it all in. It sustains us. It drives us.

At the end of the day, our experience is more than the game. It is love. True, passionate, all-encompassing love.

And, win or lose, I’ll never get tired of sharing it with all of you.

 
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Posted by on June 2, 2014 in Timbers

 

Open letter to Danny O’Rourke

Hi, Danny. Welcome to Portland and, more importantly, congrats on your new contract with the Timbers.

We’ve had a weird couple of years here. We got a new coach last year and he seems pretty solid. He took a team that had spiraled out of control in 2012 and brought them to within one game of the MLS Cup in 2013. By all accounts, he’s pretty great. I’m guessing you know this already.

The problem is this: something’s gone haywire this season. The defense isn’t working. The midfield has been less-than-stellar and the team just isn’t scoring. Over a third of the way through the season and we’ve only picked up two wins. It’s super weird.

So, we got a new striker. He seems like a nice enough guy. He managed an assist on his first touch when he’d basically come straight from the airport.

And now we’ve got you. No pressure, but we sure hope you’re the answer to all our questions. Most folks are hoping that you’ll help shore up a back line that has been, at best, leaky.

Me? I’m hoping you bring fire. The Timbers have been missing their spark, which is a really weird thing to say when we have guys like Will Johnson and Pa Kah on the field.

Anyway, best of luck to you. Hope to see you get some time at Chivas but, if not, we’ll see you at the park on Sunday.

Cheers,

Kristen

Oh, just a heads-up: Merritt might seem a little wacky sometimes, but he’s mostly harmless. Maybe don’t mention alligators to him for a while.

It’s the ginger you have to watch out for.

 
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Posted by on May 27, 2014 in Timbers

 

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As promised

As promised

Right. I said I was going to post an irrational response to Sunshine’s piece on TheAxePDX this morning.

Honestly, I don’t know that I have the energy. There’s just too much.

There was a brief back and forth earlier today on Twitter about the likelihood that the second-year curse will hit Caleb Porter as it did John Spencer.
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It won’t, though the wheels on the bus were rolling even before Porter landed in Portland. We all remember that coaching-from-afar thing, right? And the upgrade? And the starting XI for Seattle away in 2012 when so many of us raged?

Yeah. This is where crazy me gets all conspiracy-theory-y about things.

Gavin made some choices (let’s chalk that up to Gavin being Gavin) that weren’t the right choices because, well, Gavin. And Porter was brought in to clean things up a little. And now more choices have been made, but things aren’t going according to plan.

So, now what?

At some point, regardless of who brought who in (which ones are still Spenny’s guys?), the players on the field have to actually play the game and, ideally, look like they know what they’re doing.

Seriously, I’m tired. images

I’m tired of low highs and high lows and I want to see this team play with some intensity. They say they want to win, but I want them to want to win as much as I want them to win.

There was a point in the Thorns season last year when it appeared to many of us as if the Thorns themselves had taken over coaching the team. I don’t know what went on behind the scenes, but the course of the season changed and the ladies ended up lifting a trophy.

I’m not advocating a full-scale rebellion for this Timbers side, but if things aren’t going the way they need to be going in order for this team to reach its lofty potential, I expect to see a little more anger, a little more frustration, a little more passion.

Eight games in. Five points. Five ties. It’s just not good enough.

***

Speaking go ties: go get one, learn to tie a nifty half-Windsor or fancy knot of your choice, and wear it Saturday. It doesn’t change the team’s record, or increase their sense of urgency on the field, but if we’re going to be the Team at the Bottom of the Table, we may as well have a good laugh.

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Posted by on April 30, 2014 in Timbers

 

I remember this feeling.

A loss, another loss. Closed practices. Rumors. Then the reality.

And then the ensuing fire. At the time, is was a feisty Scot striking out at a ridiculous suggestion. I read the accounts and I couldn’t stop smiling.

This time, the fire was less a blaze and more of a slow smolder, a building flame. Steady, but growing. And again, I’m left with this ridiculous grin.

Here. Go watch this.

Take a minute. Think it through. There’s a lot there to chew on.

Then go watch this.

We’re in the middle of a derby week that, to me anyway, hasn’t felt much like a derby week. With the concern over suspensions and injuries and whatever else might come up, I’ve had a hard time mustering the energy to get riled up.

Thankfully, Caleb Porter is on the job. For someone who professes a preference for keeping the highs low and the lows high, he seemed to go a little off-script today. It wasn’t much, but it was enough.

Enough to take swings at MLS, PRO Referees and, tangentially, Jurgen Klinsmann, Clint Dempsey, and all of Seattle.

Bless his heart. I could not be happier. Someone please run an Ancestry.com search on him and tell me how far back the Scots are in his family tree.

Credit to Jamie Goldberg on those links. She does good work.

 
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Posted by on April 1, 2014 in Timbers

 

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Everyone’s got an opinion.

It’s true. Everyone has an opinion and now you’re going to have mine.

At this point last year, I’d already declared victory. Two years ago, I was in a haze of expectation and blinded by a recently acquired love of an imported Scottish footballer. Three years ago, well, if you think I know nothing about soccer now, you should have seen me then.

So, our boys have two points over the first four matches of the 2014 campaign. This is not the end of the world. They’ve lost two on the road. Remember when they had that WHOLE SEASON wherein they won only one road match? I do. And I’m also quite certain that this particular group of players is not going to let that happen on their watch.

They’re not where they should be. They know that. They’re trying to fix it but, in the meantime, have been hit with a handful of injuries, have been hampered by a not-yet-fully-fit-no-matter-what-Porter-says Diego Valeri, and now have two of their most steadfast players on suspension for controversial red cards.

This is fun, isn’t it?

Let’s add a little bit more fuel to the fire: Darlington Nagbe came off at the half during Saturday’s match with a reported muscle strain. Let’s also add that Paparatto and Kah have repeatedly erred on the side of recklessness and Urruti just is not the forward we’re looking for.

DOOM AND GLOOM. THE SKY IS FALLING.

Seriously, come in off the ledge. It’s not that bad. They’ll fix it. They know they have to. And I know you all hate this by now, but we’re four games in to a 34-game season. If we’re a month down the road and the Timbers still haven’t logged a win, feel free to flip out then. Until then, maybe try some tai chi or something.

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2014 in Timbers

 

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Calm down

A lot of people were right on the edge after the preseason.

Quite a few joined them after last week’s draw with Philly.

But, seriously, come back to stable ground, kids.

There have been lapses, both offensive and defensive, but we’ve seen one competitive match. One.

The Rose City Invitational was a nice warm up but let’s be honest: it was just that. A warm up.

I’m not here to make excuses. There’s really no need. Last weekend’s match against Philly was a decent performance but, listening to the players afterward, we all know they recognize it wasn’t good enough.

In the post-match presser, Caleb Porter said he hoped the last-minute La Gata goal would be the one that finally unlocked the Timbers potential to score. I’m pretty sure he’s right. And I’m also pretty sure that if they see two, three goals against Chicago, they can ride that momentum into Colorado on the 22nd.

Early points. That’s the important thing here. My one and only preseason prediction was that the Timbers will both win and lose more games this season than they did last season. In 2013, we saw four games pass before the Timbers notched that first win – IN APRIL. And we all felt those missing points late in the season when the possibility of the Supporters Shield was slowly slipping away.

More wins. We will need more wins if we want to see trophies raised.

And the team knows this. This is a team, while faltering on defense against set pieces, hasn’t seen a goal from the run of play yet this year, preseason included. That’s kind of a big deal. We can slight the faults of the new guys, and we can point to past mistakes of the veterans, but we still have to recognize that what we’ve got is nothing to sneeze at.

Chicago comes into this match having dropped points to Chivas last week. Chivas. They lost to Chivas. The Fire might not be the best team out there, but I’m guessing that loss might be motivational. What I’m not sure of is how far that motivation will carry a team with an injured Mike Magee and a potentially-starting Lovell Palmer.

***

If you’re following along, if you care at all, I’ve been doing slightly more journalistically-styled match previews over at Prost Amerika. They’re awful, but they have what information I can glean from the interwebs about each upcoming match. And, hopefully, I’ll get better at them if Prost keeps letting me write them. And if I get better at them, maybe I’ll be writing more stuff over there. Don’t get your hopes up.

 
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Posted by on March 15, 2014 in Timbers

 

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On the eve of the 2014 MLS season

It was the shortest offseason many of us have known. We left Jeld-Wen Field in late November, P-T-F-C still ringing in our ears, and were huddled around our computers when our Timbers took the field in Arizona for their first preseason match just ten weeks later.

Jeld-Wen is now Providence Park. Our team has been revamped, players have come and gone. We gathered briefly, and somewhat quietly, for the preseason tournament at our ground, but it wasn’t what we needed.

What we need is less than 24 hours away: a gathering of our tribe, our congregation, our family in our spiritual home, our cathedral. This time, it’s real.

It all starts here.

Our flags have been repaired. Our tifo (OF WHICH WE DO NOT SPEAK) has been painted. We are primed. Ready.

The building sense of anticipation, expectation is palpable. The players are resolute. They will win this. They will do it for us. And we will be there for them, to cheer them on, to lift them up should they falter, to celebrate their successes.

This season will not be easy in any sense. We’re already off to a rocky start with this morning’s announcement of a lockout of PSRA referees. We whine and complain about the quality of the officiating in our league, but we’re faced with the possibility of watching even sketchier officiating over the coming weeks as PRO and PSRA negotiate.

Thankfully, we have Will Johnson. I’m sure he won’t mind stepping in to advise the officials if their calls are askew.

http://www.mlssoccer.com/video/2013/09/07/yellow-will-johnson-counts-8-yards-and-booked-dissent#ooid=V0djdiZTr1L7AwPUJuyZDpqJBfgPa2dv

Beyond the referee situation, and despite this flying in the face of popular opinion, I think the Timbers might struggle to gain momentum. I don’t have any facts to back this up so don’t yell at me. The issues we saw in preseason (the Papa own goal, a couple of defensive lapses) are likely fixed by now. I can’t imagine Caleb Porter hasn’t taken the time to address them.

I just have this feeling. It’s less about the team and more about the huge expectations I have for them. There is such promise, such hope. How can they possibly live up to it? The only answer: win EVERYTHING.

Let’s do this thing.

 
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Posted by on March 7, 2014 in Timbers

 

He’s a nice guy.

I came face to face with Caleb Porter three times over the last year. I came away each time confused, fascinated and slightly scared. 

The first was his introductory press conference. In a room full of people who didn’t yet know what to make of him, he took the reins of a club that had spiraled downward the season before and, in doing so, set the tone for what was to come. 

I wasn’t sure what to expect. What would the dynamic be between Porter and Gavin Wilkinson? Would Porter be as soundbite worthy as Spenny had been? How would he handle the mess he’d gotten himself into?

He handled it with brutal honestly. He said things I wasn’t prepared to hear. He all but turned my beloved (and somewhat moody) Scottish striker loose, much to the noticeable discomfort of GW, and grounded expectations by saying, flat out, he didn’t expect this to be a walk in the park. He put everyone on notice. By the time he stopped talking, I could scarcely breathe. 

I didn’t find myself that close to him again until October in Vancouver. 

We’d survived the summer, the Timbers had advanced through several rounds of USOC, and were on the verge of earning a playoff spot. But a last ditch effort to stay in the Cascadia Cup race had fallen short with the Timbers loss to the Caps just moments before.

I’d tagged along with one of the Vancouver-based ProstAmerika writers to hear what Martin Rennie had to say before joining a small group who had gathered around Porter outside the Portland locker room. 

He looked up when I joined the group and for a moment, we locked eyes. He has a spark, an intensity, a ferocity that I know that I’ve never seen in anyone else anywhere ever. Experiencing it up close is something akin to walking into a sliding glass door: it stuns you for a minute until you figure out what just happened. 

Standing on the sidewalk outside BC Place an hour later, I tried to recall anything he’d said and I couldn’t. None of it. I remembered every word Rennie had said, and most of what Will Johnson and Donovan Ricketts had told us in the locker room after, but not a single word Porter had said stayed with me. He’d scared them all away. 

The third time was just before the holidays, in a bar in NW Portland. He and members of the team’s coaching staff were there for a going away party and some friends and I were there for, well, beer. We kept our distance, for the most part, until he stopped us on the way out.

“Which one of you is the one who’s scared of me?” he asked my group as we were leaving. I raised my hand.

“You don’t have to be scared of me. I’m a nice guy.” 

 

I explained to him how I came to be scared of him – his intensity in Vancouver at the top of the list – and he shook his head. “No. I’m not scary. I just hate to lose.”

Good.

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2014 in Timbers

 

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The last words on Boyd…

Rather, my last words on Boyd as a Timber. This world is a strange and confusing place. Somehow, I imagine he’ll find his way into this blog again sometime in the future, be it from Greece or Norway or, God willing, from back at Ibrox.

Before this lament starts, I want to thank all of you who’ve sent condolence messages. I know it’s utterly ridiculous to be getting condolences over anything other than, say, a death, but I’ve been touched by the number of you who’ve emailed, who’ve texted, who’ve Tweeted and Facebooked words of encouragement and concern. You all are a special breed and I’m grateful for our acquaintance.

I’d like to think I’ve learned a lot over the last year since Kris Boyd’s signing with the Timbers. I’ve learned about rivalries, about politics in soccer (both on the field and off), about completely losing oneself in the game. I’ve suffered through hours and hours of Scottish footy podcasts and BBCSportsound and read thousands of words on the administration of Rangers. I’ve learned to hate Neil Lennon and love Kenny Shiels and Ally McCoist and Lee Mcculloch. I’ve made some interesting friends in some rather unexpected places.

And most of that I owe to Kris Boyd.

I’ll admit it: I knew next to nothing about him when he was signed. I knew his name. I knew he was a big deal – mostly because for me, as someone who doesn’t (or didn’t) follow much international soccer, that I recognized his name at all was an indication that he was a big deal.

So, I did what everyone else was doing: I went to Youtube.

I fell in love. Wholeheartedly, unabashedly in love. This was The Guy. The one to carry this team forward, to carry all of us forward. We were going to win the league.

I was there for the first press conference, Kris’ introduction to Portland. I stood behind Joanne when she scarfed him. He looked tired and, I daresay, a bit overwhelmed. But, despite being shy, he was gracious with our assembled crazy though I still have absolutely no idea what he said. None whatsoever.

And I was there for that first goal in the preseason. And it was beautiful. And I screamed myself hoarse.

And I was there for the first goal that counted, in the home opener against Philly. My friend Duncan was standing next to me when it came. I’m fairly certain I bruised his arm and blew out his ear drum.

I ordered a Scottish flag from Amazon. It went on its flagpole the day of the LA match when that spectacular goal was called back.

That flag, that ridiculous flag. I carried it to every match from then on. For Boyd, for Smith, for Spenny.

I debated over whether I should take it with me to the Cal FC match. I left it in the car when I went to meet Timber Jim for a pre-match beer. “Go get it,” he told me. And I did. And I held it aloft when the horn player played Taps.

And I had it with me in the front row of 204 for the Seattle match two weeks later. We can mark that on the calendar as another game this year when I had to apologize to the kids sitting near me for my behavior. Thankfully, they were kids I knew.

Things unraveled from there. I still have a hard time sorting through what it was that really happened. The team wasn’t playing as one, but the overall record wasn’t much different than the year before. We hadn’t lost much ground, but the tide was rising and change was on the horizon. Feel free to insert more tired cliches here if you’d like.

And then Spenny was gone and Boyd was pissed and I found my voice.

That, my friends, is Boyd’s legacy in Portland. He’s gone but, because of him, you’re stuck with me.

That, and this:

So, in the off chance that my words find their way to Glasgow: thank you, Kris. You inadvertently made me a blogger. You gave me words to write and lead me to a bigger audience than I ever imagined I’d find. For that, I will forever be grateful.

#RCTID
#WATP

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2013 in Timbers

 

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A simple wish

Fair warning: with regard to Boyd, I am not in any way capable of putting my thoughts together in any sort of comprehensive, cohesive fashion at this point. The words may come in a few days, or a few weeks, but right now it’s just too raw for me. I am, after all is said and done, not a soccer writer so much as an outlet of emotions and madness.

Instead what I can muster is this:

My wish is simple. My wish will eventually, should it come true, break my heart again, as it was broken a year ago with Kenny and twelve short hours ago with Kris.

My wish is that one of these new players, or a player not yet named, will catch my eye, that he will capture my imagination, that he will bring me a story to tell. In the end, I know this is a path that will lead me right back to where I am now, living under my little storm cloud, heartbroken.

Did you see what I did there? Right back? I may have finally, completely lost my mind.

 
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Posted by on January 17, 2013 in Timbers

 

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