This post comes at a special request from the Pacific Northwest.
And since I'm a sucker for Sasquatch, so I couldn't say no. Nor could I say no to the state where 'The Goonies' was filmed.
This post goes out to the Portland Timbers USL 1 soccer team and their fans, the Timbers Army.
A couple weeks ago I stumbled across a Timbers game on Fox Soccer Channel and was blown away by the passion of the crowd, albeit a crowd watching a soccer game at a minor league baseball facility with crummy turf. This was the kind of passion missing at most sterilized MSL games.
And as I said at the time, the Timbers have the best logo in North American soccer.
After some correspondence with a big-time Timbers fan 'Richard', he hooked me up with a free shirt. This is my payment. Hopefully he's not a big fan of the movie 'Misery'.
Due to work I couldn't do anything about the first half. This is the best I can do.
At the very least this will be the only mention of the word 'Beckham' during the post. That's refreshing, right?
We'll pick up the Timbers game vs. the California Victory at a scoreless halftime. Bear with, me it's going to take some time to adjust to a game in English after all this Copa America and U-20 World Cup.
Halftime -- Already impressed by the Cal 'Vics'. Their coach -- Glenn Van Straatum -- is actually from Suriname, a CONCACAF member. The announcers even tell us their home strip was inspired by Alves in Spain. Excellent. For a USL squad the shirts look sharp.
46 + -- Decent freekick on target by Timbers captain Andrew Gregor.
47+ -- Casillas of the Vics makes a nice darting run and tries to bend it in, wide.
50+ -- Must mention, a great week for the USL 1 and 2 in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. Harrisburg defeated DC United. The Richmond Kickers topped the Galaxy and the Charleston Battery beat defending MLS champion Houston.
52+ -- Timber break quick from a Vics corner kick. Nice 1-2 and a GOOOOOALLLLLLLLLLL. Good feed from the right side by Scott Thompson to Bryan Jordan who first touches it into the crowd. The Timbers Army unfurl a cool looking, FYR of Macedonia inspired flag in their section in green and gold. Quality.
54+ -- It's worth mentioning, the Timbers have one of the best fan gimmicks around. After every goal a guy that goes by "Timber Jim" uses his chainsaw to cut off a piece of wood off a felled timber. You can hear the chainsaw the whole game. Not forced or contrived. Good stuff. The rest of the crowd is in really loud voice. Not sure how many thousand are at the game but everyone is standing and singing. Are you watching Don Garber!!!!
60ish -- Chances that new Portland Trailblazers No. 1 draft pick Greg Oden even knows the Timbers exist? Slim to none, right?
More 60ish -- Wait a tic...those ARE Deportivo Alaves shirts the Vics are wearing. The hippie communes outside San Fran must appreciate that sort of frugal thriftiness. Only in world football could you have a guy -- Ukranian businessman Dmitry Pietrman -- owning teams in Basque country and then appropriating it in sunny San Francisco.
Maybe they're just really cheap?
65th -- Ok. The clock is back. You gotta love the fact the Timbers have a couple patches of infield dirt exposed during the game. Classy. No worse that Giants Stadium. Seems like players avoid the spot around home plate like a minefield. ... My first Timber Jim sighting. Rockin' suspenders, brah.
67th -- More big ups to the Vics. They employ a defender -- Matt Fitzgerald -- who, how say I put this delicately, has a deformed left arm. Not to make fun at all. Respek. Goes to show how universal the sport of soccer can be. Think of all those people crippled in Africa that play on crutches. Amazing spirit.
70th -- Ok, I said I wouldn't mention that Beckham fellow. Sorry. For all that pre-fab hype and out-and-out awfulness of the Beckham introductory newsconference, this game in Portland represents the total opposite. This is true passion in the stands of PSE Park. There aren't multi-million dollar endorsement deals or 'Entertainment Tonight' cameras. These people 'get it.' They enjoy the atmosphere. The passion that a non-stop game like soccer can elicit. This is about as far away from the media spotlight and you have thousands of fans of all ages bobbing up-and-down, singing, chanting, having a good time without the instruction of canned-PA dance music. Beckham doesn't have to come to America to save soccer, it seems like its doing okay without him...albeit in small doses. I just wish a fraction of people that saw that stupid confetti and dog-and-pony show in suburban Los Angeles could see the images and real passion in Portland. That would convert people. Rant over.
75th -- There's not a lot going on, but at least the announcers are keeping their lips shut, allowing the crowd to be heard. Not sure who these guys are, but they are better than anything ESPN can trot out. The play-by-play guy keeps it going and seems to know the game...but he does some vaguely Canadian. The analyst is a Brit and unlike, say, Ray Hudson doesn't need to hyperventilate at every touch. Granted this is USL in a baseball stadium, not La Liga at the Bernabeau.
Side note, California despite their sharp duds are pretty poor, even by expansion team standards.
79th -- Referee goes to his pocket. Sorry didn't see what happened, got one eye on the MLB.tv feed of my Tigers against the Mariners. Todd Jones is going to take years off my life.
84th -- Our goal scorer, Jordan limps off. Blame Todd Jones. He's killing me....but the game is over. Thank god.
...This field...did they import it from Crater Lake National Park? It's huge. ... Wow...I hear strains of the closing music to 'Empire Strikes Back' on a trumpet...and jesus, Timber Jim has hooked up some rigging and is banging his drum whilst suspended over the stadium. Maybe he's an attention-whore, but I think he's incredible.
87th -- Nice stop by the Timbers keeper (w/blow out afro). Vics player had a chance but a good save by Josh Wicks, who I assume was born on an Army base in Germany. ... A little later a Vics player takes a boot to the face. Ugh.
90th -- Timbers player Luke Kreamalmeyer is hacked down in front of the box. The ref doesn't like the flop and waves 'play on.'
90th+ -- Vics take a decent corner...and win another. ... Nothing going. ... Looping header by the Vics, easy save. ... Another yellow to a Vics player for slamming a Timbers player to the ground...maybe even a little punch to the back of the head. Dirty. ... That's game. Timbers 1, Victory 0.
Fans go home happy.
Final postscript, Jordan (our goal scorer) goes home with the ring of lumber sawed off by Timber Jim. A treasure worthy of the Sierra Madre. Fine for a mantle.
Suffice to say, this might be the first and only live blog and certainly the first and last USL live blog. It was pretty fun, though. Timbers Army, you rule.
Don't forgot, Saturday, 2:15 the US U-20 team plays Austria in the U-20 World Cup quarterfinals. Time to take out the Veiner Schtinzel.