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Silly season: the heat must be getting to me.

Remember in January when I flipped out at you guys about your gossip and your rumors and your innuendo? Well, I’m full of all those things right now and I’m absolutely going to blame it on the heat.

We’re still a little over a week out from the transfer window opening. Rumors are coming fast and furious, each seemingly crazier than the last.

But here we are in Portland, pretty comfortable with what we have and with no pressing need at the moment. This is a nice change of pace from the frenetic one we experienced in the offseason.

And yet, there still seems to be some expectation of movement. And, because it’s ridiculously hot and I’m a delicate creature, I’ve been prone to wild theories and conjecture just like everyone else. I’ve even come up with a little of my own.

Let’s just go ahead and talk about Boca, shall we?

I started hassling my main source at Rangers last week. He’s a good guy, but wasn’t in a position to tell me much of anything at the time. This was before the Boca-Leaves-Rangers announcement had come out and we were just playing a game of Where in the World is Carlos Bocanegra. We briefly discussed that, while Boca wanted to play for Gers, there was no way the club could continue to pay his salary. So, Unnamed Source said he’d text Boca and then promptly went radio silent.

And then the announcement came a couple days later, complete with an indication that a stint at Chivas might be in play.

Chivas. Chivas?!

If there’s any club in MLS that’s in more turmoil than Chivas, that club has managed to keep it a whole lot quieter than the Goats have. And now, just hours ago, they’ve announced the departures of four players. For crying out loud. What are they doing?

Clearing space for Boca.

But wait, they’re like sixteenth in the allocation order, aren’t they? Yes. Yes, I do believe they are. And even with those four guys gone, do they have enough cap space for Boca?

And this is where I start blaming the heat for my mad ravings.

Officially, Toronto has the number one spot in the allocation rankings. But, because of that not-officially-documented handshake with Merritt Paulson during the race to get Mix Diskerud and Ryan Johnson, that number one spot gets theoretically passed to Portland.

Thus, if Portland wants Boca, Portland gets him. Done.

But Boca is a So-Cal guy. Went to UCLA, has family there. A handful of the Boca stories out there cite his desire to be on the West Coast and, over the last couple days, others have said he’s interested in being back in California.

So, what will it be? The Galaxy? They made a pretty crazy move to get Robbie Rogers. Would they make another one to get Boca?

The other LA option is, sadly, Chivas. Chivas who just sent four guys packing. Chivas who, to my untrained eyes, only have one player who might be of the caliber that Portland would want should Boca first get picked up here through allocation.

And thus, my crazy is revealed: Merritt signs Boca, then trades him to Chivas for Dan Kennedy. So long, Jake Gleeson, it’s been nice knowing you. You, too, Milos Kocic. I liked you, but Dan Kennedy.

See? Crazy. I told you. Seriously, if I don’t get air conditioning soon….

 
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Posted by on June 30, 2013 in Timbers 2013

 

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Boyd underground: Glasgow local edition

Okay, so I’m Cubbie today. I’ve got a source who’s asked not to be named. If you know me, it shouldn’t be too hard to find out who it is, but I’d appreciate it if you didn’t start harrassing him for any more info. He’s a good guy and has been very gracious in dealing with me at length over the last ten months.

Yes, Boyd is training with Rangers. Yes, Smith is training there, too. Yes, Kenny Miller is there as well. My source tells me it feels a lot like 2009 at the Rangers training grounds.

So, my guy in Glasgow had a chance to chat with Kris for a bit today. Kris is optimistic, says he’s training hard in an attempt to be fully fit and ready to impress Caleb Porter straight off at the Timbers’ training camp in January.

Yeah, that’s not much in the way of an exclusive bit of information, but it tells me this: Boyd wants to be ready for whatever opportunity is afforded him and he’s absolutely planning on being here in January. But, lest the entirety of the Boyd Underground get its collective hopes up, there’s still a lot of time between now and January 19th.

But Kris likes Portland. He likes the passion of the Timbers organization and the culture that surrounds it. If the decision is truly his, that goes a long way for a guy who spent years playing for some of the most passionate soccer supporters in the world.

 
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Posted by on December 5, 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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A few words about Boyd.

Let’s just get this out of the way: if you think Kris Boyd’s response to Cubbie from The Oregonian is because he’s thin-skinned, you’re delusional. Boyd’s been in the game a long time and, for the love of Pete, he was a Ranger. In Glasgow. A Glasgow frickin’ Ranger. That alone should make you think twice before assuming he’s a shrinking violet.

For those of you not following along with the Twit-stupidity today, here’s a brief rundown:

The Timbers beat writer for the local paper, a man many consider a pot-stirrer of epic proportions, tweeted something I would consider, at best, stupid. He has every right to his opinions but his timing was off and his target chose, in his own way, to shoot back.

So, what did Cubbie tweet?

A thought: Ironic that the guy hyped as the savior – Kris Boyd – hastened John Spencer’s demise by blowing PK against Cal FC. ‪#RCTID‬

Someone somewhere pointed out the tweet to Boyd who, as far as anyone knows, is not on Twitter, and he took exception to it, refusing to speak to the media after today’s training session until Cubbie was excluded.

Meh.

If someone blames me for my boss getting fired and my boss is a guy I respect, a guy I moved to the other side of the world to work for, I might get a little pissy, too. Add to that the fact that I’m Kris Effing Boyd, all-time leading goal-scorer of the Scottish Premier League? Yeah, screw Cubbie.

When I caught wind of this whole thing this afternoon, I was on my break at work, sitting in the lunchroom by myself. It was in this exact place that I listened to Merritt’s statement yesterday.

What a difference a day makes.

Yesterday was doom and gloom and I felt like the world was caving in. Well, maybe not the entire world, but a least a portion of my Timbers world. Everything felt heavy and listening to Merritt’s voice break as he spoke brought tears to my eyes.

Today, I read through the tweets regarding Boyd and Cubbie and Cubbie’s friend-who-used-to-hate-soccer-before-he-liked-soccer-before-someone-hurt-Cubbie’s-feelings-and-he-threatened-to-hate-soccer-again. Tears again, but this time it was from holding in the laughter.

I didn’t stop smiling all afternoon.

Is it because of my big fan-crush on Boyd? Maybe. I love this man unreservedly. Is he the savior that Cubbie says he was supposed to be? Not yet. But he could be. Regardless, he’s turned the story from being dark storms on the horizon and the end of the world as we know it, to “Let’s all laugh at Cubbie.”

What I believe here is this: as Kris Boyd goes, so go the Timbers.

When he plays well, the team plays well. When he’s pissed, the team is pissed. He’s become the de-facto captain.

With all outward indications pointing toward the conclusion that the Timbers franchise has all but given up on this season, today’s exchange between Boyd and Cubbie tells me this: Boyd still cares.

When he did speak to the media today, we got some stock statements about moving forward, being a professional, doing the job he was brought here to do. They were statements any other player in a similar situation might have made but they don’t tell the story.

The story will begin with what happens Saturday.

And I’m hoping the first chapter is written by Kris Boyd.

 
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Posted by on July 10, 2012 in Timbers

 

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Requiem for a dream.

There was what I, at the time, considered a minor Twit-splosion last night just before 10:30.

A press release. Normal, I’m told. Run of the mill. Nothing terribly unusual. Notice of a closed training session.

Like many others, I blew it off. The team just suffered a pretty spectacular meltdown in Salt Lake. If it were up to me, I’d close practice, too. I was more irritated that I’d tried to get to bed before the inevitable 11 p.m. Rangers Twitter news dump and had been thwarted by a weekly news release that people were trying to make into a bigger deal than it was.

Turns out, it was a pretty frickin’ big deal.

By 9 a.m., rumors were swirling. By 10, a full four and a half hours before the scheduled press conference, the story broke.

John Spencer. Wee John Spencer. Former Ranger John Spencer. Coach John Spencer.

Today he became former Timbers coach John Spencer.

I get it. I accept it. I’m disappointed by it.

There is no other person in this world I would have rather had as coach of the Timbers in their first MLS season. His fire, his passion, his wit were the perfect fit for this city. I don’t know that I can say anything here that hasn’t already been said.

I haven’t been able to bring myself to watch footage of the presser yet. I listened to Merritt’s statements via an audio link posted on Twitter while I was on a break at work. Poor choice on my part. The emotion in Merritt’s voice was enough to make me a wreck for the rest of the day. Maybe there’s no crying in baseball, but there sure is in soccer.

So, what now?

I have absolutely no idea.

Gavin Wilkinson has been named interim coach and will lead the squad for the remainder of the season. I’ve seen a lot of negativity leveled toward Gavin but, at the very least, he knows the players. He brought them here, let him take a shot at coaching them. If it turns out that he’s as awful as so many people believe, well, here’s the opportunity for that to come to a head. It’s not the end of the world. It’s been made clear that he will not be in the running for a permanent placement as manager. However, if he manages to get some points on the road…

I’ll reserve judgement. Admittedly, I wasn’t around for Gavin’s greatest transgressions, but wasn’t there a season with him as coach when the Timbers had a 24-game unbeaten streak? He can’t be all bad, can he?

I was lucky enough to find myself across the table from a long-time, fairly level-headed member of the Timbers Army tonight at the Bitter End. I didn’t ask him if I could quote him as I didn’t really think I’d be writing this, but here we are.

“I’ve been around a long time,” he told me. “I’ve been around a long time and I don’t know what to think.”

Well, brother, you’re not alone.

Emotions will run high this week. I think I’ve been through at least three dozen emotions so far today. Who knows what tomorrow will bring?

We, collectively,team and TA, have about ten minutes to pull ourselves together and start preparing for the next match.

I listened to Popinski 23 on my way home from BE tonight. Fangirl here has burned a cd of it to play in the car. I look to the Popinksi popcasts as the standard, the most perfect reflection of the mood of the TA available. Popinski 23 was released into the wild in the week leading up to this year’s home opener against Philly. It is both raw and polished, filled with expectation and anticipation and hope. Punctuated with pride and bravado, it encapsulated everything I felt at the time. I hope I never forget any of those feelings.

We’re halfway through the season. I stand by my previous statement: I think we have the right team to make the playoffs. We’ve hit a major bump in the road, but the road is still there.

Let’s go.

Onward, Rose City.

 
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Posted by on July 9, 2012 in Timbers

 

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A new beginning for RFC

Edit: Yeah. So this was posted minutes before I saw the stories about Ally Mccoist hit the net. I’ll update tomorrow when the story is clearer. Let’s just say that pissed is the nicest description of how I feel right now.

Okay, bear with me. This one might be a little jagged. Also, just a reminder, I’m NOT a sports blogger. It just happens that I’ve been writing abut my teams lately.

Oy, Rangers. You’re breaking my silly little heart.

It was nice to have a couple weeks there with no crazy-insane-bad Rangers news. But, apparently, it was all just building up for a flood. The dam has broken.

When last I wrote about Rangers, we were waiting for a buyer to come forward. Bill Miller, the tow truck manufacturer from Tennessee had taken his toys and gone home, leaving what is arguably the world’s most successful football club without an owner and in severe financial and spiritual distress.

Another bidder came forward and laid his cards on the table. Bid accepted.

I didn’t know much about him. I’m not sure any of us really did, but since stepping up to the podium, Charles Green has been open and (as far as I can see) honest and, when things start to get weird, he does not hesitate to issue tersely worded statements in which he outlines his discontent. He appears on the surface to be, at the very least, a man who does not easily back down from a challenge.

I’ll be the first to admit that he wasn’t my preferred bidder, but his determination to make sure that Rangers survives has won me over. He has stated his commitment to keeping the boys in blue playing at Ibrox. That’s enough for me.

The biggest challenges are yet to come. Green announced earlier this week that HMRC has rejected the planned CVA. For those of you not following along, this basically means that instead of a managed bankruptcy wherein the new buyer of the club (Green) settles debts with creditors for essentially pennies on the dollar (or, in this case, pence on the pound) and the club continues forward as best it can, we move toward a total liquidation. At least, that’s my understanding. I’m not a Scottish/British tax/bankruptcy expert by any stretch of the imagination.

The proposed CVA has been rejected by the governmental body that reviews such things. Rather, it will be rejected sometime in the next twelve hours or so.

It’s 7 a.m. in Glasgow. My Scottish Twitter friends are waking and starting their day and, as most of them are part of the Rangers family, they’ll be on pins and needles until the official announcement.

And then they’ll continue to fret until Green reiterates his support for the club.

So, there it is. Rangers gets a new start. With the CVA denied, the club goes into liquidation and, barring any further nonsense, the good Mr. Green will buy the club’s assets and form a newco for even less than the CVA would have cost him in the first place. Who gets screwed here? The creditors. Again. I’m entirely unsure why this makes any sense at all but there you go.

The arguments will continue for years. Is a new Rangers still Rangers? Can we still lay claim to the accumulated titles and hardware of the last 140 years?

Yes. We can and we will.

All the Celtic bloggers are sounding the death knell for Rangers. Wishful thinking, kids. Wishful thinking. Newco, not newclub.

Rangers will be liquidated and reformed. They will still play at Ibrox. They will still carry the weight of 140 years of history and trophies. They will still be ours.

And it will be the SPL that suffers. And I will suffer because there’s little chance I’ll see the boys play if they land in the third division and are forced to claw their way back to the top tier.

A new beginning for Rangers.

Onward.

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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A secondary obsession – believing beyond reason

When I started shopping for a second team, many folks suggested Arsenal. Ups and downs and dramatic turns, they told me. A team that would forever be looking for new and exciting ways to break my heart.

But no, I thought. I don’t want a big English club. Not yet, anyway. I want a club with, perhaps, a little more grit, a storied past, perhaps some controversy. And I wanted a club to which I felt some connection. Soccer is not always neat andd tidy. I didn’t want to go the easy route.

With the arrival of Kris Boyd in Portland, the choice became clear: my second club would be Rangers.

(Here’s where the Gers fans, the diehards, will yell at me that Gers deserve more than to be anyone’s second-place club. I will smile politely and point to the three Rangers who wear Ponderosa green – two players and a coach – and thank them for their passion.)

I’ve been hearing the rumblings about Rangers financial situation, but I set them aside in favor of a club with a vast history and a rivalry that outstrips even the Portland-Seattle rivalry. Aside from the political underpinnings and the violence of the past, the contempt Gers fans and Celtic fans have for one another is something that is, in essence, vaguely familiar to me, though it goes far beyond anything we’ve yet experienced with POR/SEA.

I watched my first Auld Firm match on a taped delay from a bar in Portland on a Sunday morning in March. Fifty thousand people were at Ibrox that day to watch Rangers win and Celtic’s Neil Lennon make a spectacle of himself. I fell in love with the style of play, with the passion of the fans, with the boys in blue. If I had doubted my choice to support Rangers, that doubt was erased before the end of the first half. I started to shop for some blue to supplement my mostly green wardrobe.

I listened to the Scottish Football Podcast from the BBC for updates and discussion of not just the team’s play, but its financial situation. Bids were made. Bids were withdrawn. Sanctions were meted out. Bids were restructured and resubmitted and, in the end, an American – a tow truck manufacturer from Tennesee – emerged as the preferred bidder.

An American from Tennessee.

This blew my mind. A club with the history of Rangers possibly being owned by an American? In my mind, this is akin to selling the Packers to France. It just didn’t make any sense to me.

But what do I know? I’m still considered relatively new to soccer as a passion. I’m lucky to have found that passion here in Portland, Oregon, Soccer City, USA. We have a team with about as much history as you can find in U.S. soccer. We have an owner, though his knowledge of soccer has occasionally been questioned, whose passion for his club, his city and the fans that is unmatched in North American soccer. We have a supporters group that is almost wholly responsible for Portland’s ascension to MLS.

Rangers deserve the same passion.

Bill Miller, the American bidder for Rangers, does not have that passion.

I know, I know. His decision to retract his bid after being named the preferred bidder by the club’s administrators was mostly due to the club’s financials, but his comments about the ire of the fans toward an American bidder are the only thing I see right now.

Soccer, despite the opinions of many American sports fans, is not for sissies. It has been called the Beautiful Game though it is often rough and physical and dangerous. I’m thinking of the Sanna Nyassi hit on Portland goaltender Troy Perkins two weeks ago in Montreal. I’m thinking of Perkins holding a towel to his bloodied face. And I’m thinking of the fire that was still in his eyes as he walked off the pitch.

I doubt Rangers would have ever seen the same fire from Bill Miller, a man who, in a statement released upon the retraction of his bid to buy the storied club, essentially blamed the club’s fans.

Yes. He blamed the fans.

I blame Miller’s sensitivity. If this is how he reacts to the unkind words of a few when the vast majority of Gers fans – including legendary Ranger Sandy Jardine – supported the bid, then he has no place in soccer and never did.

This isn’t baseball, Mr. Miller. This isn’t the NBA or the NFL or the NHL. A soccer club is not just a business proposition, it is a responsibility. We fans are not timid. We do not back down. We support our clubs to the very end and beyond. Anything less than that is unacceptable.

There are those who say this may be the end for Rangers. The one viable bid has been withdrawn and both time and money are running out. But I believe in miracles and, with any luck at all, but the time I post this online, another bidder – one with heart and passion and an understanding of what it means to own Rangers – will have already stepped forward.

 

 

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