Tag Archives: Cascadia Cup


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



Know your history

Someone on Twitter yesterday offered to buy me a beer if I’d come sit and talk Timbers history with him. As much as I’d like to take him up on the offer, and as much as I tend to be the historian wherever I go, the history here, the history surrounding the Timbers and the TA, this history is not yet mine.

I’m learning as I go, a piece at a time. There are things I remember from afar, some of the events of MLStoPDX for example, but did not take part in. But I’m still one of the new kids and I probably will be seen as such for years to come.

I’ve been lucky in the acquaintances that I’ve made along the way. At one point in June, I looked up and realized I was surrounded by legends: the guy who brought the chainsaw, the first player signed by the Timbers, men who’d played for the national teams of Northern Ireland and the United States as well as Scotland’s U18 and U21 teams. Who am I?

I’m someone who’s trying to put the pieces of our shared history together.

We opened Fanladen a while back. It’s a pretty significant step in a long line of pretty significant steps. A physical space for the Timbers Army to call its own outside of Jeld-Wen Field. The opening was a celebration not just of the space, or of the Cascadia Cup so recently won, or of our survival of such a ridiculously dismal season, it was the opportunity to begin the next chapter in our collective history.

And the beauty of this, and of the piece of that history that was gently placed in my hands that day, is not lost on me.

A lot of us walked out of there that day with prints of Mike Russell’s Culture Pulp piece from April of 2005. If you weren’t there or didn’t get one, you can find it online here.

I’m told it’s a pitch-perfect snapshot of who we were at the time. Shoot, it’s a pretty good look at who we are now. A lot of those characters are still here. We stand shoulder to shoulder with them in the North End, and we owe them a debt for this thing they’ve built, this thing I have a hard time explaining to people who haven’t experienced it as I have.

Lucky. Grateful. Curious.

So, here’s my call to the TA OGs. Tell me your stories. Tell me your stories and let me retell them here. You who tell us n00bs that we should know our history, I call upon you to teach it to us.

Who wants to go first?

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Posted by on December 21, 2012 in Timbers


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Okay, listen up, Portland sports journos.

Let me make this simple for you: the Timbers, a Major League Soccer franchise located here in the City of Roses, are here to stay.

You can bitch, you can moan, you can become whiny and cranky and stomp your feet and shake your fists at the clouds above and kick puppies but the fact remains, the Timbers and their Army are not going anywhere.

That said, I think it’s high time you started to learn a thing or two about the Timbers and the culture that surrounds them. When you’re ready, I’ll be happy to point you to folks that can give you insight into our history, our passion, our commitment to this team and this town.

In the meantime, I’ll offer a few words about the Cascadia Cup.

Established in 2004 by the supporters groups of the three Cascadia teams – the Timbers, the Seattle Sounders and the Vancouver Whitecaps – the cup is awarded to club that takes the most points from the other two Cascadian teams. It’s not hard to understand. The not-terribly-complicated rules can be found, spelled out in their simplest form, at You’re professionals, you should be able to Google this stuff.

What might be harder to understand is the importance of the Cup. Especially to Timbers fans. Especially after this mess of a season.

See, we started our season with the highest of expectations. The arrival of Kris Boyd. An exciting pre-season tournament. A win for the home opener. “Playoffs in the second year,” Merritt told us. And many of us believed him.

But it wasn’t long before things started to unravel and before the halfway point in the season, we’d lost to an amateur team and our coach had been fired. We had a nine-game stretch during the summer when we didn’t win a match. There were three games in a row during that stretch when we didn’t score a single goal.

What I mean to say is this: it hasn’t been the easiest of seasons. But we’re still here. We still line up hours before every match and sing until every player is off the field. We travelled en masse to Seattle to face an arguably stronger, playoff-bound team in their home stadium. Over 1,500 of us, Steve, on eighteen buses, on trains, in dozens of cars. People flew in from all over the country. This girl came from Wisconsin to see a team she listens to on the radio but never gets to see in person.

So, Steve, when you say stuff like this, it isn’t entirely accurate:

The lonely corner of the planet where you can never hope to attract unique coaches, talent or brands. The moss-backed abyss where no one dares to dream big or loud or fast or …

We did dream big. We still dream big. We’re just occasionally disappointed. It doesn’t mean we stop dreaming. It means we have more time to dream bigger.

In those two weeks between the ridiculous loss in Seattle and the Cascadia Cup win in Vancouver, we had plenty of time to dream. And lament. And rage. And laugh. And recharge.

We got tossed unceremoniously from the US Open Cup in May. We saw the team crumble mid-summer. We’re saddled with an interim coach who doesn’t seem to get that the season didn’t end in July. The Cascadia Cup was the last thing within reach.

We could have taken it during the Sounders’ visit to Portland in September, but we didn’t.

We could have taken it during our trip north to the Emerald City two weeks ago, but we didn’t.

We were forced to go into Vancouver, to play against a team fighting for a playoff spot. In order to secure the Cup, we needed to win on the road, something we hadn’t been able to do all season.

And, when it came right down to it, the importance of the Cup is what pushed our boys forward, what inspired them to perform at the level necessary to get those three points. They wanted it not for themselves, but for us.

And now we have it. It doesn’t erase the stupidity of this season, but it gives us much-needed a reason to celebrate.

So, Dwight, you can scoff if you like. It doesn’t change the fact that this Cup means something to us. It’s more than a trophy. It’s a covenant between the players and the fans, the acknowledgement that this season has been difficult for all parties involved and a promise that things will get better.

I have to wonder, in your years of writing sports professionally, if you’ve become so jaded that you don’t remember what it’s like to be completely committed to your team. Beyond that, I wonder if you ever had a team to which you were fully committed.

I have to admit, the experience is relatively new to me and has been, at times, alarming. How did I find myself so in love?

And then I look around me and realize that I’m surrounded by others – thousands of others – who are just as enamored, just as in love as I am.

And then you, Steve and Dwight and John (whom I haven’t previously mentioned, but seems to fit in perfectly here), just seem sad and lonely and desperate when you lash out at things you obviously don’t understand and are unwilling to learn about.

We don’t need your approval, gentlemen. And your derision is unwelcome.


Posted by on October 23, 2012 in Timbers


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Kings of Cascadia

First apologies to my October folks. We’ll be back to normal Tuesday.

I know you’ll be SHOCKED to hear that I’m feeling a tad emotional this evening.

Until very recently, I’ve been borderline insane in my optimism where the Timbers are concerned. It’s been said that despite talent or depth or conditioning, any team can take any game on any day. It’s all a crap shoot.

But this year has left me wondering if there was some sort of cosmic grudge being held against our boys. So many last minute losses, so many things have gone wrong, so much damage has been done.

I’ll admit I’ve shed more than a few tears over this season.

And I shed a few more tonight.

I didn’t know what to expect and, to be perfectly, painfully honest, I didn’t expect much. I love these boys, I love this club, but there is a limit to how much I can hurt before becoming numb.

Missing the last home Seattle match was fifty times more painful than I thought it would be and not being able to celebrate a Cup win immediately after was another blow.

Joining a traveling contingent of 1,500 to the Seattle away match only to find that our GM/manager had stopped taking the competition seriously absolutely brought me to my knees. I’ve become increasingly restless and angry since Spenny was removed from his post. And Gavin’s quotes over the last few days (rather, last few months) have put me on edge.

I knew, for the sake of my own mental well-being, that I needed to be among people who understood all that this game meant. The last shreds of hope for a completely blown season hung on this one match.

I went to Bazi, a lovely Belgian beer bar in southeast Portland, a bar where I often watch games, but also where I’ve never seen a winning result for my Timbers. I was lucky to be able to gather a fantastic group of folks who don’t mind that I’m a wreck during games. Actually, they probably didn’t even notice.

The line-up was announced and, while my Boyd-in-the-eighteen prediction was proven wrong, it didn’t look bad.

And it wasn’t bad. It was scrappy. It was not pretty. At best, it was mediocre football played for the first half hour.

And then Jack. Jack whom we shouted down at the CalFC match. Jack who many of us have repeatedly called on to give up the armband. Poetically, if it wasn’t going to be Boyd, it had to be Jack.

And then we just waited as the minutes ticked away. The longest hour of our lives. Six minutes of stoppage.

And then it was over.

Kings of Cascadia.

And my first thought was to go to the stadium.

It was my first thought when Spenny was sent packing, my first thought when Perkins was traded: a moment outside the stadium, to touch the outside of the cathedral, to pay homage to those who came before, and then a trip across the street to the Bitter End.

This will potentially be the last Cascadia Cup we celebrate at the Bitter End. Bittersweet, but sweet nonetheless.

And, thankfully, I was surrounded by folks who are every bit as sentimental and ridiculous as I am and we all piled into cars and went: long-term fans, bloggers, a capo, one of the founders of the Timbers Army and me.

I’m forever amazed at the series of events that has brought me to this place, to stand among these folks, in the shadow of what has often been described as our fortress, our cathedral.

Somewhere to the north of us, our boys and our Timbers Army brothers and sisters celebrate with the Cascadia Cup. And sometime in the next few days, the Cup will make its way home to Portland.

Nothing has really changed. This has still been an absolute mess of a season. We still have a GM that we desperately need to replace. We still have just one more game to play before the long, dark offseason commences.

But I saw heart out there on that field. I saw heart and passion and desire and all the things we’ve been hoping to see all season. The difference tonight is that we saw that heart and passion and desire from every player that laced up his boots to play.

Thank you, Timbers. Thank you all. You’ve done us proud, you Kings of Cascadia.

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Posted by on October 21, 2012 in Timbers


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Lost in translation, part one

I carry two clubs in my heart.

One is arguably one of the most successful clubs ever to have played in the soccer world. A hundred and forty years of history, 54 league titles, 33 Scottish Cups, 27 Scottish League Cups. But that’s not why they’re my club. They’re my club because, despite being 4,500 miles away, they make sense to me.

The other club, my primary club, is here in my own city. And, despite the results on the pitch this year, they also make sense to me.

No. Wait. No, they don’t.

They make absolutely no sense to me whatsoever.

I love them, my Timbers. I love each and every single one of them. Even the idiots who bitch and moan on Twitter when we call them out for poor performances.

The ones I love the most are the ones who recognize when they’ve screwed up. The ones that come to us on Facebook and Twitter and in any other way they have available to them and apologize. Smith and Horst, and dear, dear Mosquera who has made a habit of telling us how pissed off he is after these ridiculous losses we’ve collectively experienced.

There has been much discussion since the beginning of the season about talent and fitness and whatever it is we think makes an athlete worthy to play for our badge and I’m still not sure what the right combination is. Whatever it is, we don’t have a lot of it.

We have a lot of really talented guys. We have a handful of guys who play with heart, even when they flat-out suck. We have guys who understand dedication to the badge and the expectation that comes with playing in front of the Timbers Army.

Stupidly, they’re not all the same guys. What we’ve got here is the Island of Misfit Toys. Mismatched, misused, broken, discouraged and sent off to fend for themselves with little-to-no appropriate guidance.

Now, if we had a coach that gave two shits, we might be in a much different place. But we don’t.

We had Spenny. Our beloved wee John Spencer. Something happened there I don’t understand. If Gavin is to be believed, we “overachieved” last season. If we did, the credit should go to John. He somehow managed to coach more from the players than Gavin, whose primary responsibility is to bring us the best possible players we can get, thought possible.

Let that sink in for a minute.

Gavin brought them here. Spenny coached them into overachievement mode. We fired Spenny.

Let’s go a little further, shall we?

The overachievement quote (yes, Gavin said it – it’s linked above) comes from the same set of quotes that includes such winners as:

“Players were a little bit complacent coming into their second year and they forgot what attributes it took for them to be successful…We’ve got technically gifted players. We’ve got young players with a lot of potential, but if you can’t work through adversity and if you can’t challenge yourself and raise your standard and set new goals week in and week out, we’re going to struggle.”

Set new goals? You have one goal: win.

And this:

“I would say that we lack some key characteristics to be successful right now.”

And, my personal favorite:

“As far as coaching, I coached as much as I can for right now.”

When Spenny was fired, we were four points out of playoff position. Four points. Yet we were close enough to the end of the world that we felt the need to remove the coach that made the previous season’s overachievement possible.

When Gavin issued the above I’m-done-coaching quote, he’d been at the helm for three matches.

Three. We’d lost all three. And then we lost a friendly. And then we lost another match. And then we drew. At home, in the fortress that is JWF.

I’m looking back over the schedule and the results and it barely even seems possible. We lost three before Gavin stopped coaching and then we didn’t win another match until the end of August. That’s nine games.

Obviously, Spenny was the problem.

Lost in the flurry of quotes in that article I linked a couple hundred words ago is the one where Gavin says he doesn’t think the playoffs are a possibility for this team this year. He said this, ladies and gentlemen, in July when there was plenty of time to put something together.

He’d given up. He’d given up and he dragged us all down with him in some sort of Kiwi death-spiral.

But then we won the Vancouver match. And a draw against Seattle at home kept us in the hunt for the only remaining piece of silverware we might be able to bring home.

All we had to do was go to Seattle and not screw up long enough to get a draw. But we didn’t. There’s no way we could have with the team Gavin fielded.

And here’s where the narrative starts to take divergent paths.

The first line out, before we were even back on the buses, was that Gavin had taken this match, a Cascadia Cup match in hostile territory in front of a traveling contingent of over 1,500 Timbers Army, as an opportunity to get a look at some players we don’t see play a lot.

What the holy hell. Then we should TOTALLY play Ricketts and Jewsbury. Because we have ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA what they’re capable of. Especially with Ricketts coming back from an injury.

The second line out, released just hours ago (presumably after the interim ginger has already left the country), is that something got “lost in translation.”

I beg your pardon?

After CalFC and Spenny and Perkins and our failed playoff hopes, the importance of the Cascadia Cup was somehow lost in translation?

This, my friends, is precisely why I do not have a press credential. Had I been there to personally witness that little gem, I would have come unglued.

Like so many, I follow many of the players through social media (stalker!) and have been lucky enough to interact with a handful of them. I see what they have to say, I see what my friends and others are saying to them. It did not appear to me that the importance of that Cup was lost on ANY of them.

The only person the importance of the Cup seems to be lost on is Gavin.

From the players, I saw fire and passion and the desire to bring home that Cup not for themselves, but for us.

I wrote months ago that I look forward to a day when we will gather on a rainy day in December in Pioneer Courthouse Square to see our club raise the MLS Cup. I want this for them, not for myself.

I hadn’t considered the possibility that the players would want the opposite: to win this Cup for us and not for themselves. This realization was stunning to me in the days and hours before the Seattle match.

There is zero possibility that this was “lost in translation.”

More in a few hours after I’ve slept a bit….


Posted by on October 20, 2012 in Timbers


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It all comes down to this.

This is a cross-post with SlideRulePass.

I think we can all agree that this has not been the easiest of seasons. In fact, when we get right down to it, it’s been pretty ridiculous.

Inexplicable things have happened. Things we’d like to forget. Things we wish had never happened.

Through it all, we keep coming back. Despite our minor disagreements, we still stand united.

And now, with the Cascadia Cup on the line, an Army is gathering.

Eighteen buses at last count. Fifteen hundred tickets in the official allotment.

I’ve spent some time over the last couple weeks listening to the last half dozen or so episodes of Heart and Hand, a Rangers podcast. Bless them. If we could extract the accents, half the time, it would seem they were talking about the Timbers. Poor road form, unexpected and ridiculous losses snatched from the jaws of victory (including one recently that bounced Rangers from the Ramsden Cup) and a host of other similarities, not the least of which is a derby opponent whose fans seem more obsessed with Rangers than with their own club, despite the fact that probably won’t even face each other this year.

Gers are struggling, now in the third division of Scottish football, and as we saw when our Timbers began to struggle in the spring, people are calling for the manager’s head. I’m more than a little stunned by this. Without Ally McCoist, there might be no Rangers. Regardless, it was this quote from the pod that sent me off on this tangent:

“One of the frames from them was that there’s no room for sentiment in football. And that, I have to say, is the most stupid thing I think I’ve ever heard. Football is entirely, intrinsically built on sentiment. If it wasn’t, you would change every year and support the most successful club. The reason you stay loyal is sentiment…it’s entirely sentiment.”

Entirely sentiment.

Sentiment is why we continue. Sentiment is why, on a Sunday afternoon in October, over 1500 Timbers faithful will travel 180 miles into enemy territory knowing that our boys are underdogs.

“It means more,” one of my TA elders tells me,”because we do it together.” Sentiment.

We have survived this season because we’ve done it together. We’ve celebrated, we’ve mourned. We’re within a point of bringing home the Cascadia Cup and salvaging the season. And this we will do together.

For those unable to make the trip, our triumph will be broadcast Sunday on ESPN.

The soundtrack to our weekend, our Cascadia Cup derby weekend, can be found here. Be warned: it is not safe for sensitive ears.

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Posted by on October 6, 2012 in Timbers


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