A win over Columbus is the first step to salvaging the Timbers season
May 2, 2012 / By Cliff Pfenning, oregonsports.com
It's always the players that get the credit for scoring during a Portland Timbers game, and that's a reality that can't be challenged.
But, after a game, when the slice of Timber gets handed to the players that score, once in a while there ought to be an extra slice, maybe of appreciation for being a big part of that score - even if it's someone not on the playing field. If ever that would happen, it should happen Saturday for Portland coach John Spencer. He looks like he needs it.
Spencer's had a rough start to the 2012 campaign, and there's plenty of online chatter about where he should be coaching next - as in not Portland. He looked pretty weary at the post-practice press conference Tuesday morning. Eight games into the season, that's not entirely unexpected regardless of how well the season's going for any coach. A gaggle of media cameras and recorders shoved basically in your face can't be a wonderful thing. But, his body language just screamed "I'm tired," and not from a bad night's sleep.
Portland's season has been a mess. The Timbers can't hold a lead, can't win on the road, have trouble putting two solid halves together and can't stay healthy. At home, they haven't scored at the South end of Jeld-Wen Field, which means they haven't scored in both halves of a home game. In fact, they haven't scored in both halves of any game.
And, recently, they haven't scored at all. It's been neearly three games since the Timbers scored - five halves.
Soccer City, USA, barely has a pulse online in the MLS world.
Yet, there's plenty of reasons to be pumped about the team still having more than a passing chance of making the playoffs, despite being 18th in the latest MLS Power Rankings released Tuesday. Portland has played well enough to be in the lead or even in nearly every game, and handed top-ranked Sporting Kansas City it's lone loss. The Timbers nearly beat No. 3 Real Salt Lake - giving up a pair of late goals in a 3-2 loss, and gave the LA Galaxy a significant challenge until late in a 3-1 loss.
Those solid performances, though, have been overshadowed by a 1-0 loss at New England, and Saturday's 2-0 loss at Montreal, both of which played out as though the team couldn't wait to get back on a plane and escape to the friendly confines of Soccer City, USA.
Eight games in, there can't be any team more frustrated with their season than the Portland Timbers and their fans. With goalkeeper Troy Perkins doubtful for Saturday, and starting defender Steve Purdy out, the Portland line-up will again be in flux - a major challenge for Spencer to handle.
With Columbus headed for Portland ranked 17th, Saturday's game has the makings of a tremendously frustrating loss, one that would put Spencer's head on a stake in the online world.
Portland needs a win, and a convincing one at that.
The Timbers need to score - on both halves of the Jeld-Wen pitch. New guys need to score - only four players have hit the back of the net.
It wouldn't hurt to have a second-half sub - a move Spencer controls - score. Many of Spencer's moves have actually preceded the opposition scoring, so this is would be a huge burden lifted.
A shutout wouldn't be a terrible thing, either, showcasing a solid line-up - also something that Spencer controls.
A draw Saturday would at least be ... not a loss. The team, fans, owner Merritt Paulson, need this. But, a convincing win, one that shows off Spencer's leadership, could use some extra appreciation, and that should be in the form of some lumber.
There's a great photo waiting to happen - Spencer raising his own slice before heading to meet the press. That's a photo that would get the city, infact the whole league, buzzing again about the Timbers and their coach.
Oregonsports.com begins its foray into soccer coverage with "No Pity City"
Feb. 7, 2012
As the media world continues to move forward technologically pretty much every day, it's bringing the wide world of television continually closer to the average person.
In the past, one needed a bundle of cameras, operators, video editing bays and people to produce all the material in front of and behind those cameras.
It's a helluva task to produce a television show, especially a live show.
And, that's what we're delving into at oregonsports.com, live television. It's not television, because there's no station call letters or the FCC involved, but it's the worldwide web version of TV, we're using Ustream.
Thursday, the staff oregonsports.com will produce its pilot episode of "No Pity City," which will focus on soccer in Portland, especially the Timbers, their players, coaches, games and fans.
The premiere episode is set for live viewing at 8:30 p.m. Thursday, with filming taking place at the Bulldog Tavern in Southwest Portland.
Viewers can follow the show and contribute through the chat room that will be active during the show. Publisher Cliff Pfenning and Timbers beat writer Mike Donovan will serve as co-hosts of the show, which is being presented by the Bulldog Tavern and the Vanport Batting Cages.