Irish edge the Lakers 13-6 in defensive showdown for 6A football title
Dec. 8, 2012 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal
After two season of misery at the hands and feet of the Lake Oswego Lakers, the Sheldon Irish got some vengeance at the best possible time - with the state championship on the line.
With a pair of field goals by kicker Nathan Starnes providing the scoring difference, Sheldon avenged last season's loss in the title game with a 13-6 victory at Jeld-Wen Field Saturday afternoon.
Sheldon's defense stymied the Lake Oswego offense throughout the game other than a 12-yard scoring drive set-up by a fumble that gave the Lakers a 6-3 lead when the point-after was blocked. Sheldon responded with a 75-yard scoring drive of its own to take a 10-6 lead when Connor Strahm ran in from a yard out and Starnes hit the extra point.
Starnes added another kick just moments later and the Irish held on defense - ending the game with five turnovers - for the schools fourth title since 2002.
Sheldon finished 14-0, while Lake Oswego finished 13-1.
The Irish have lost just twice in the past to seasons - both to Lake Oswego in the playoffs.
"They ended our season im misery the last two seasons, so it's nice to get back at them this year," Sheldon junior Tanner Davis said.
Both teams moved the ball offensively, but with only the one sustained drive for a touchdown. Starnes' field goals were from 27 and 26 yards, and he missed another short kick that would have made the score 16-6 late in the fourth quarter.
The Irish picked off Lake Oswego quarterback Justen Ruppe four times and held the team to 3 of 10 on third down, and only 1 of 3 on fourth downs.
Sheldon finished with 243 yards of offense on 59 plays, while Lake Oswego had 269 yards on 55 plays.
With only six penalties to slow the game, it lasted just two hours, 19 mninutes, which included stoppages for television breaks.
Mike "Stats" Donovan crunches the numbers on the past season
Nov. 8, 2012 / by Mike Donovan, oregonsports.com
After the final Timbers game of the year, the Portland Mercury’s Brian Gjurgevich dubbed me “Timbers stat nerd of 2012.” This is a quite an honor for me to be bestowed with, and I take the title very seriously.
Because of this, I wanted to take a second and share some of favorite, cool or simply bizarre stats that I came across during or after the 2012 season.
Scoring droughts coming to an end Despite scoring fewer goals in 2012 than 2011, quite a few Portland Timbers had long scoring droughts come to an end.
When Sal Zizzo put in the Timbers first goal in a 2-2 draw against Toronto FC on August 15th, it was the first time Zizzo had ever scored a goal for a professional, non-reserve squad in a league match. Despite signing his first professional contract in July of 2007 with Hannover 96, the winger had only put the ball in the net in friendlies, cup matches or for reserve teams.
If it seemed like David Horst didn’t know how to react after heading the ball into the net against the Seattle Sounders on June 24, its probably because he hadn’t had much practice. After all, that goal was Horst’s first MLS goal despite being drafted in 2008 by Real Salt Lake. Injuries almost derailed Horst’s career but he has seemed to find a home in Portland.
Timbers midfielder Franck Songo’o ended the season in a more attacking role than he had in the beginning of the season. Yet when Songo’o scored his match-winning free kick goal against the Vancouver Whitecaps on August 25, it was his first league goal since scoring on a header for Real Zaragoza on Valentine’s Day 2009 against UD Las Palmas. Songo’o’s last goal with his feet was scored on March 29, 2008 when he scored for Sheffield Wednesday.
Other Timbers to end scoreless streaks were Eric Brunner, who in his 80th MLS match scored a goal with one of his feet for the first time on May 20th, and Kalif Alhassan, who on opening night scored a goal on the US mainland for the first time in his three seasons for the Portland Timbers
Werewolves of Portland One of the more interesting stats that developed through the season was the Timbers penchant for playing well in Portland when under a Full Moon. With wins over San Jose (Thunder Moon) and Colorado (Blue Moon) and draws with Columbus (Flower Moon) and DC United (Harvest Moon), the Timbers ran their record to 5-0-2 in their last seven home Full Moon games.
Five goals is a lot On consecutive Saturdays in July, the Timbers gave up five goals to their opponents. First on July 14, in Gavin Wilkinson’s first game back as the Timbers head coach, Portland fell 5-3 to the defending champ LA Galaxy, then on July 21, the club was shut out 5-0 by FC Dallas. In the previous 335 games (their entire USL tenure and previous 51 games), the club had conceded five goals in a league match just once.
North End reigns supreme The Timbers Army section has always inspired the hometown team and seemed to bring an extra edge to the club. But in its two MLS seasons, the Timbers have taken that appreciation to a new level by scoring a huge portion of its goals in front of the North End. In 2012, 16 out of the 24 goals scored by Portland at Jeld-Wen Field were scored heading towards the North End. Add that to the 21 of 30 scored in the North End in 2011 and that brings the percentage of goals scored in the North End to 68.5 percent.
In the 34 halves the MLS Timbers have played headed towards the North End, they have scored 37 goals. In the 102 halves played on the road or towards the South End, they have scored the exact same number. That translates to 1.09 goals every North End half and 0.36 goals per half played on the road or South End.
No way San Jose
The Portland Timbers and the San Jose Earthquakes have been playing each other since 1975. And, despite the Earthquakes having the best record in the MLS in 2012, San Jose struggled to beat the Timbers, again. Portland is undefeated in five MLS league matches with the Bay Area club (1-0-4) and hasn’t lost a league match against San Jose since May 26, 1982.
Where is my penalty kick? In 2012, the Portland Timbers became the fourth team in MLS history not to be awarded a penalty kick during an entire MLS season, but the Timbers have a longer penalty kick drought to keep an eye on in the future. Portland’s last penalty kick goal was July 30, 2011 against Toronto FC. That means in the Timbers last 48 games, they have scored zero goals via the penalty kick. In those same 48 games, Timbers opponents have score 7 goals from the spot.
If you have any favorite stats of your own from the 2012 Timbers season, please tweet me at twitter.com/themikedonovan and have a wonderful offseason.
Portland's Rodney Wallace strikes to salvage a 1-1 result with Seattle
Sept. 15, 2012 / By Cliff Pfenning, oregonsports.com
The Portland Timbers' drop on the Cascadia Cup loosened significantly for about 21 minutes Saturday before Rodney Wallace scored to salvage a 1-all draw with Seattle at Jeld-Wen Field.
Playing on national television, the Timbers were poised to claim the fan-based trophy with a win, but instead settled for a tie that keeps them atop the standings that involves games between Portland, Seattle and the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Wallace scored off a corner kick from Jack Jewsbury in the 78th minute to counter a Freddy Montero goal for the Sounders in minute 57 of the hard-fought game played in intense sunlight. Midfielder Diego Chara, apparently dehydrated, left the game in the 86th minute, which caused the Timbers, who had used all three substitutes, to finiish the game with just 10 players.
One of Portland's substitutions involved starting goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts, who was injured early in the second half.
Portland has road games remaining at Seattle and Vancouver with a win in either giving the team the cup for the first time when all three teams have played at the same professional level. Seattle, though, can now claim a share of the Cup with a pair of wins, regardless of what the Timbers do in their road game with Vancouver.
The Timbers improved to 7-14-8, 29 points, while Seattle is 13-6-10, 49 points and sits in second place in the Western Conference.
A win might have given the Timbers a glimpse of fifth place and a playoff spot, but Saturday's result made that a fairy tale to a season of turmoil. Portland has six games remaining - all against teams bound for the playoffs, and four of them are on the road, where it has not won.
Portland returns to action Wednesday at San Jose, which leads the West, and then Saturday at Real Salt Lake, which is battling Seattle and the LA Galaxy for second in the West.
The Timbers might not make the playoffs, but the Cascadia Cup is close
Sept. 6, 2012 / By Cliff Pfenning, oregonsports.com
Imagine if the Portland Timbers had won Wednesday's game in Colorado.
At 30 points, with seven games, left, there might actually have been some considerable excitement about the team maybe squeezing into the playoffs, especially with one game left against Vancouver - the team in fifth place.
And, the winless streak on the road would have been history.
So the Timbers are back to where they've been all season on the road - seemingly somewhere else.
General Manager Gavin Wilkinson had some momentum on his side entering the game with those eight points in August, having named an incoming head coach, and sending an inspired line-up onto the field game after game, regardless of the status of Kris Boyd.
All the grumbling about GW being replaceable, just like anyone else, seemed like an early pounce on the team's savior. Calm down, Armed ones!
What's all that momentum matter without a win?
So, the GW Out crew has reason to show up in force Sept. 15 when the team returns to Jeld-Wen Field for a crucial Cascadia Cup match against Seattle, a win that would wrap up the Cup for Soccer City USA.
That's going to be a challenging game for the GW Out crew. On one hand, a Timbers win would be fantastic because it would secure the Cup. On the other hand, a loss would be great fodder for sending GW to another post in the organization, or, perhaps, another organization.
That's going to be an entertaining game on and off the field, more than usual.
Portland handles Vancouver 2-1 in Cascadia Cup match-up
Aug. 25, 2012 / By Cliff Pfenning, oregonsports.com
The clouds of discontent that have covered the Portland Timbers franchise for the past six weeks finally cleared away Saturday night at the most opportune time and the team scored a 2-1 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps before a sold-out crowd at Jeld-Wen Field.
Darlington Nagbe scored his third goal in three games and Franck Songo'o scored his first goal in an MLS game to snap an eight-game winless streak for Portland.
The victory is the first for the Timbers under interim coach Gavin Wilkinson, who added the role to his position as General Manager when the team fired coach John Spencer, July 9. The Timbers lost their next four games by a combined 12-3, including a 5-0 disaster at Dallas, July 21. But, recently, the team has become energized by a series of line-up adjustments that have included regualr time for forward Bright Dike, who replaced designated player Kris Boyd Saturday.
"It's a lot better than losing," Wilkinson said afterward. "We've been playing hard and have worked for this, so it's good to see we got the result we've been looking for."
Portland improved to 6-13-6, 24 points, with all of its wins coming on the home pitch. The team suits up again on Friday for a home game against Colorado, which sits one spot ahead in the Western Conference standings.
Saturday's win was even more important as it put the Timbers in the driver's seat within the Cascadia Cup. Portland is 2-0-1, seven points, with three games remaining in the fan-sponsored battle among Northwest rivals. The Timbers have three games remaining in the Cup, including a Sept. 15 home game with Seattle.
Nagbe's first-half goal continued a streak of positive results for the second-year player. His tally off assists from Jack Jewsbury and Eric Alexander in the 41st minute gave him six on the season, one behind Boyd.
After Vancouver tied the game in first-half extra time, Songo'o fired in a free kick at 55 minutes for the decisive goal.
Portland dominated much of the game, controlling possession for 53 percent of the 90 mintues and winning 57 percent of duels for the ball.
Vancouver dropped to 10-10-7, and remained at 37 points, which keeps it in the fifth and final playoff spot within the West.
The teams meet for the third and final time of the season in Vancouver, B.C., Oct. 20.
Jewsbury gets a slice against Dallas to end scoreless streak
Aug. 5, 2012
It might have taken a scortching day to warm up the Portland Timbers, but it finally happened Sunday at Jeld-Wen Field.
Jack Jewsbury powered home a shot in the 79th minute to help Portland forge a 1-1 draw with FC Dallas in 90-degree heat.
The win boosted the Timbers to 5-12-5, 20 points, with their first goal in four games and first point in six contests.
A goal by Dallas forward Scott Sealy in the 51st minute – beautifully assisted by midfielders Brek Shea and David Ferreira – had Dallas in line for their second consecutive victory over Portland before a Zach Loyd red card gave the Timbers a man edge for most of the second half.
After a dour first half that didn’t see much except some rough challenges and one sterling save each from Troy Perkins and Kevin Hartman, things came to life just on the other side of halftime.
After Julian De Guzman fluffed a perfect look two minutes in, Ferreira, Shea and Sealy combined to give the visitors the lead four minutes later. Shea, making his first appearance since July 18, snuck past a flat-footed Portland backline to get onto the end of Ferreira’s perfectly-weighted through ball. He then squared for Sealy, who had a simple tap-in for his second goal of the season.
Less than 60 seconds later, however, FCD were down to 10 men when Loyd was send off for dragging down Portland’s Franck Songo'o, his second yellow of the game. At that point, it became the Kevin Hartman show.
The veteran ‘keeper posted a series of highlight-reel saves in the second half, turning away Songo’o in the 62nd, Bright Dike in the 68th and Danny Mwanga in the 78th minute. But the Timbers continued to press, and Jewsbury was in the right place at the right time to get onto the end of a Hartman punch-out, lacing a left-footed volley that evened the score in the 79th.
The result allowed Dallas to inch ahead of Colorado and into a tie with Chivas USA for sixth place with 26 points from 24 games. FCD host Colorado next Saturday.
Portland remains in the conference cellar with 20 points from 23 games, but snapped their five-game losing streak. They’ll have next weekend off before traveling to Toronto on Aug. 15.
Portland dominates much of the game with Chivas USA, but loses 1-0
July 28, 2012 / By Mike Donovan, oregonsports.com
In the train wreck that has become the 2012 Portland Timbers, Saturday’s 1-0 loss to Chivas USA will be a slight blip on Portland’s trip to last place in the 19-team MLS. Despite dominating the play on the outside of the pitch for one of the few times in their MLS tenure, the Timbers were again befallen by poor finishing and mental mistakes.
The lone goal of the match occurred when Danny Califf headed in a Ben Zemanski free kick almost directly on top of the penalty spot. Troy Perkins rushed off his line to try to make a play on the set piece, but was left in no man’s land 10 yards in front of his net.
Perkins has played decent this season despite some suspect defending in front of him, but his decision to go so far off his line was a poor one. The back four for the Timbers held the Goats to just three shots in the second half with Califf’s goal being the only one on target.
Perkins was not the only one to make a mistake that cost the Timbers.
Kris Boyd flubbed on potential open goals twice and stayed offside multiple times when making runs off of teammate’s headers. Boyd’s scintillating left-footed shot in the 81st minute only proved that Boyd is able to put quality shots on goal.
For many games this season, Boyd has been undone by the poor quality of service into his striking position. That was not the case of Saturday. Franck Songo’o and Diego Chara combined for six successful passes in and around the 18-yard box, but none of them resulted in goals.
Songo’o and Chara, along with Brent Richards dominated midfield possession for large chunks of action. Chivas midfield seemed to lack any cohesion when playing defense and struggled with their touch throughout the match.
Making his first MLS start, Richards seemed to be a focal point of Portland’s game plan. On numerous occasions, free kicks were sent towards Richards to head into the area. Chivas fullbacks had little answer for the Timbers Homegrown Player in the air.
The Timbers man of the match was Songo’o, who excelled in tight spaces throughout the matches. All Songo’o’s work set up quite a few chances for both Boyd and Richards. His foul that preceded the Chivas goal was a tough one to concede, but it was likely due to his constant ball pressure in the first 68 minutes of the match.
In the 26th minute, Songo’o swiped Riley of possession and sprinted towards goal to put in a left-footed cross. The play was one of the best all-around plays the MLS Timbers have received from a wing player in their 55-game history.
While there were positives, they will be little consolation for Timbers fans who just witnessed their team drop its fifth straight league match.
English side Aston Villa earns a PK win, but Portland scores twice
July 24, 2012 / By Cliff Pfenning, oregonsports.com
The magic that accompanies Jeld-Wen Field for the Portland Timbers showed itself again Tuesday night, even if it didn't turn into a victory.
The Timbers, struggling to score on the road, tallied twice in front of the Timbers Army before dropping their international friendly with Aston Villa, 5-4, in penalty kicks.
Portland trailed 1-0 into the second half when a flurry of substitutions by both teams gave it an edge and turned into goals by Sebastian Rincon and Rodney Wallace.
AVFC, playing in front of Tom Hanks - one of its passionate fans, got goals from Ciaran Clark and Matthew Lowton and converted all of its PKs before a crowd of 20,438.
Villa keeper Brad Guzan needed just one stop, on Bright Dike's effort in the fifth round.
Despite the loss, the Timbers got an emotional lift from the game, one highlighted by the post-game presentation of the slice of lumber each player gets for a goal. Timbers players depantsed Rincon, who scored for the first time in a Timbers uniform.
Portland returns to action Saturday against Chivas USA with a desperate need of a victory. Portland (5-11-4, 19 points) has lost its past four games - three of them on the road - by a combined score of 14-3.
Chivas (6-8-5, 23 points) beat the Timbers 1-0 Wednesday, and also has a 2-1 win in Portland, April 7.
The EPL side hits Portland in a game of confidence - for both teams
July 23, 2012 / By Cliff Pfenning, oregonsports.com
If fortune smiles on the Aston Villa Football Club Tuesday night, their match with the Portland Timbers will end with a victory.
If fortune smiles on the club's fans, it'll be by a score of 2-1 or better.
So, AVFC will win, but the Timbers will score. It's got to do with sawdust.
Most of the traveling party that have supported Villa on its three-city tour of the U.S. that concludes Tuesday, had little to say about the season the Portland Timbers are having, but they did have a few things to say about the game.
First, it's part of the confidence-building process for a club that narrowly missed relegation, said new manager Paul Lambert. Second, it's part of the enjoyment the club might get from their tour of the U.S., a member of the travelling party said.
"They have a guy who walks through the crowd with a chainsaw?" he asked Monday as the team trained at Jeld-Wen Field. "And he saws the log, too? That would be something to see.
"All trip long, everyone told us this was the place to play at. We're all looking forward to it."
Of course, for the chainsaw to break off a slice, the Timbers would need to score, something the team has struggled to do lately. At least on the road.
Portland has scored at home, and against strong competition.
As much as Tuesday's game is part of the confidence-building process for AVFC, it's even more valuable for the Timbers in the confidence department. The Timbers at least need to score. But, a win would be absolutely amazing for a team that hasn't won since coach John Spencer was removed two weeks ago.
A 2-1 win for Portland would be fantastic on an international level.
Fans in England will be watching for the results, and loving the broadcast.
The Timbers will stream the game live on www.portlandtimbers.com, about 90 minutes ahead of the AVFC webcast begins. Fans in England already know this and will be tuning into the Timbers stream - with comments aplenty.
"We delayed the web stream by 90 minutes in Chicago, but they did it live, which our fans found out pretty quickly," the member of the traveling party said. "They did a lot of commenting on social media because of the American broadcasters. The soccer language is different from England and pretty funny for our fans."
The language of victory will be the key for both teams Tuesday, especially for the Timbers in front of their home fans. A month ago, Portland lost to an amateur club from California. Imagine a win over an EPL team Tuesday.
After the debacle in Utah, Portland fires its coach
July 9, 2012 / By Cliff Pfenning, oregonsports.com
It certainly hasn't been a boring first half of the season for the Portland Timbers, and got more unboring Monday when the team fired coach John Spencer.
Relieved of his duties, or removed, or however nicely you want to put it.
The Timbers were a team struggling to put any kind of consistency together, and the constant highs and lows possibly caused by frequent line-up changes made the decision not one that was hard to see coming.
The road losses had to be a factor as did that one, disheartening loss to Cal FC in the US Open Cup, which hits its semifinal stage this week.
If only Kris Boyd had converted that penalty kick in that game.
I'm one of the people saddened by the news. I liked Spencer. And, the team played well at home, which is ideally what you want out of a team. And, it played well against quality opponents - they were at their best against the league's best, twice beating the No. 1 team in the league at Jeld-Wen Field. The team scored in front of the Timbers Army, and wasn't that far away from being a playoff team, either - just four points from fifth place.
But, the road. Man, those road games were painful to watch. Saturday's game at Real Salt Lake was one of the most painful, especially the final 30 minutes when the Timbers got absolutely thrashed. The game brought up plenty of questions. Why wasn't Boyd in the starting line-up? Why was Kosuke Kimura, brought in only Thursday in a trade, in the starting line-up? Why put so much attention on the team's defense, when it seemed to play so much better with some offense taking pressure off the defense - as any team does?
Spencer had exactly one-and-a-half seasons to build the Timbers into something of a playoff contender, especially as more than half the league qualifies for the playoffs. Didn't happen, even though the standings show the team is just four points behind the fifth-place Los Angeles Galaxy and has played two fewer games. The Timbers play the Galaxy Saturday, too.
Despite the struggles of the team, Spencer seemed to have earned the rest of the season to get the team into the top five based on its strong play at home (5-2-2, 17 points) and record (4-2-1) against the best teams in the league - games that have almost all been played in Portland.
Owner Merritt Paulson handled the press conference Monday and made mention of a philosophical difference between coach and management, and he's the final decision maker. At least he was on hand to make the official announcement. However you look at this decision, you knew were it came from. Paulson has done a great job of being visible and representing the franchise in a manner not a lot of fans get - in any of the major leagues. He at least seems to have a clue to where he wants the Timbers to go, which is something the Trail Blazers do not seem to have.
So, general manager Gavin Wilkinson is in as interim coach. At least he has some coaching experience, and successful coaching experience. A couple decades ago, there were plenty of teams that had coaches who were also general managers in professional leagues.
Thanks for the entertainment, coach Spencer. Now, let's see how the Timbers can continue to make the season more entertaining - by beating Los Angeles Saturday for starters.