NPC: We'll be talking Eric Brunner and Cascadia Cup Tuesday at 8:30 p.m.
May 20, 2012 / By Mike Donovan, oregonsports.com
Sometimes it takes a unlikely spark to start a fire, and Sunday it was Eric Brunner during the Portland Timbers' 2-1 win at home over Chicago at Jeld-Wen Field.
Sunday was the 80th time Brunner had stepped on the field for a MLS match and for the first time in his 80 matches he was able to score a goal with his foot. But his right footed poach into the inside netting ended a 448-minute scoreless streak by a Timber and eased the nerves of both the Timbers players and their Army.
Brunner had missed the last two Timbers games with a hip flexor and seemed ready to cause damage from the get go. Moments before the starting whistle, Brunner was joking with coach John Spencer on the sideline before running to his fellow defenders for some pregame chatter.
But it wasn’t just his intensity or even his goal that made Brunner so valuable for Portland Sunday afternoon. Brunner had one of the statistically best passing games ever for a Timbers defender, successfully completing 17 of his 22 passes. And of those five, three were on clearing headers.
Brunner’s goal in the 20th minute ended a goal-scoring drought that spanned 36 days for Timber players. However, goalkeeper Troy Perkins shutout streak ended at 377 minutes after Jalil Anibaba beat the defensiveless goalkeeper after a poor clear from Steven Smith.
A Logan Pause own goal turned out to be the winner for Portland. Pause’s deflection came after a Kris Boyd header was turned towards the goal off a Sal Zizzo corner kick. While Boyd won’t get the credit, he easily beat Fire rookie Austin Berry to the Zizzo’s kick. The own goal was the fifth the Timbers
Zizzo’s corner was just seven minutes after he came onto the pitch as a halftime sub for Franck Songo’o. Zizzo seemed to provide a spark off the bench.
“When Sal comes on, the crowd appreciate him. It gives you a lift, especially in front of the Timbers Army,” Spencer said following the game. “You can just tell the Army are back in the game, he certainly gives us that jolt.”
Despite the goal from Anibaba, Perkins had a nice match that included a diving save on a blast from an unmarked Pavel Pardo. After the half, Perkins was mostly a spectator and saw zero shots on target in the final 45.
The own goal was the fifth the Timbers have received as a MLS club. All five have been at the North End of Jeld-Wen Field.
Portland returns to the field Saturday against Cascadia Cup rivals, the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Check out No Pity City live on oregonsports.com, Tuesday at 8:30, and twitter.com/theMikeDonovan all week for Timbers coverage.
Portland has another week off before playing at Houston
May 8, 2012
There's some relaxation afoot for the Portland Timbers this week as they have an extra three days off before playing at Houston, May 15, but that's an extra three days to delve into the importance of their next game.
Portland needs a gool old fashioned win however it happens and a win at Houston would be something close to monumetal, a topic that will be key to Tuesday night's webcast of No Pity City on oregonsports.com.
The show begins at 8:30 p.m. and can be viewed on this page.
Portland's season is awash in drama after only nine games. Not only are the Timbers at the bottom of the Western Conference at 2-5-2, 8 points, but they haven't scored a goal in three games, 3.5 halves to be exact.
The team has scored twice in a game only twice and has yet to score in both halves of a game.
And, the Timbers are winless on the road, earning only a 1-all tie at Dallas in their first road game.
The biggest reason for drama at Houston, is the home club playing its first MLS night game in its new stadium after starting the season with seven straight road games.
Portland's continually changing line-up is likely to see another change, although one that's likely to be determined shortly before game time.
Portland's offense has been shut out for five straight halves
April 30, 2012 / By Cliff Pfenning, oregonsports.com
It's been a long time since the Portland Timbers lit up a crowd with a goal of their own.
They've still managed to win a game, but only with the help of an opponent scoring on itself.
It's been an even longer time since the Timbers scored at home, all of which will be in the air Tuesday as No Pity City begins its eighth episode live at 8:30 p.m. from the Bulldog Tavern in Southwest Portland.
The Timbers play host to as Columbus Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
Portland, which lost 2-0 at Montreal Saturday, enters at 2-5-1, 7 points, while Columbus, which lost 1-0 at home to Vancouver Saturday, enters at 2-4-1, 7 points.
Both Columbus and Portland have a goal differential of -4, although in Portland the Timbers are +1 in four games. In their last outing, though, their score came off an own goal from Sporting Kansas City in a 1-0 win. The Timbers scored just once in their previous home game - in the first half of a 2-1 loss to Chivas USA. So, Portland hasn't scored at home in five three halves and hasn't scored overall in five halves since a first-half tally at Los Angeles, April 14.
Portland has scored just eight goals this season, which, interestingly, puts it at or ahead of eight other teams in MLS.
Kris Boyd and Darlington Nagbe lead the team in scoring with three goals each.
Tune into this page for the live webcast, and sign on to the chat room to converse with co-hosts Cliff Pfenning and Mike Donovan. Or show up at the Bulldog Tavern to be a guest on the show.
NO PITY CITY: Tonight the cast talks about Portland's scoring drama
April 10, 2012 / By Cliff Pfenning, oregonsports.com
Maybe it is the players on the field, but the Timbers Army seems to be having quite an affect on games this season at Jeld-Wen Field.
In three games, the Portland Timbers have scored six goals, with all of them into the North goal - the net directy in front of the Timbers Army.
It's not a situation for coach John Spencer or other older players such as team captain Jack Jewsbury, who view it as a coincidence, but younger players such as Darlington Nagbe, who's scored twice in that direction, and Jean Andrew-Baptiste, who's scored once, have noticed it.
"Yes, some of us have noticed it," Nagbe said after the Timbers lost 2-1 to Chivas USA Saturday. "It seems like there's more energy going that way and that plays a role in the game."
The Army seems to have had an affect on opposing teams, too, as both goals Chivas USA scored were into the North net.
Of the 12 goals scored this season in three games at Jeld-Wen, nine have been to the North.
Portland's role on the field got an answer Monday as the Timbers brought in defender Brett Evans for a trial after back Lovel Palmer got outpaced for a pair of crosses that turned into assists Saturday.
The Army and Palmer will be key points of discussion tonight during the weekly episode of No Pity City, which begins live on oregonsports.com at 8:30 p.m. from the Bulldog Tavern in Southwest Portland. The episode can be viewed on this page with viewers able to chat live with hosts Cliff Pfenning and Mike Donovan. Live video from your Android device on Ustream
COLUMN: Portland fans have to deal with a gut punch after Saturday's loss
March 31, 2012 / By Mike Donovan, oregonsports.com
What just happened?
That was the question on the minds of the Timbers players, fans, and anyone else who watched the Timbers give up two goals in the final five minutes in a 3-2 loss to Real Salt Lake on Saturday night. What just happened?
After the final whistle, almost everyone associated with Timbers had the same glazed over, look of shock on their face. Whether it was Merritt Paulson with head-in-hand in front of his office computer or Kris Boyd slumped over with both hands on his chin in the locker room, no member of the Timbers organization could seem to make sense of what had just happened.
Just 30 minutes before the final whistle, the only question running through the minds of the Timbers Army was, “did that just happen?” As Darlington Nagbe blasted a volley over Nick Rimando giving his 2011 MLS Goal of the Year a fitting sequel and the Timbers a 2-1 lead 65 minutes into the match.
But, Nagbe’s golazzo was not the question on everyone’s mind after the match. John Spencer faced the media with the same look of confusion that was being worn by most at Jeld-Wen. What just happened?
“I don’t think at any one time Real Salt Lake stopped fighting,” Spencer said. “We knew we had to match them for 90 minutes, and we matched them for 84 minutes.”
As to what actually happened on the two goals that were scored late by RSL, the replays tell some of the story. On the tying goal by Jonny Steele, the usually reliable James Marcelin gave the ball away softly to Javier Morales. Then Steele easily sidestepped Eric Brunner, who looked to be running on fumes.
The game winner by Kyle Beckerman is even easier to diagnose after multiple viewings. At least seven Timbers defenders were ball-watching and none of the players on the pitch saw Beckerman waving both his arms in the air to notify Fabian Espindola that no one was marking him.
And if Beckerman’s face looked familiar during his post-goal celebration, it was because it was the same one that Troy Perkins had as he sat down on the field staring at his defense. What just happened?
The Timbers aren’t the first MLS team to lose a game they were winning after 85 minutes. And they won’t be the last. It is how they come back this April Fool’s Day-like stomach punch that will define the early part of their 2012 season.
Will the memories of Saturday lead to sluggish performances in upcoming games vs Chivas USA, LA Galaxy and Sporting Kansas City? Or will the disappointment provide motivation going forward?
While those questions will be answered in the coming weeks, one direct question remains as Jeld-Wen Field employees cleaned up a deserted, dimly-lit stadium.
Stumptown Footy's Ryan Gates joins the cast of No Pity City tonight at 8:30
The exciting start to the 2012 Major League Soccer season took a big header into reality Saturday with a loss at New England, but there's always a plan for the faithful and the cast of "No Pity City" will delve into that tonight at 8:30 from the Bulldog Tavern in Southwest Portland.
Stumptown Footy columnist Ryan Gates will join hosts Cliff Pfenning and Mike Donovan to talk over what happened outside Boston on Saturday as well as what's upcoming Saturday at Jeld-Wen as the Portland Timbers prep for Real Salt Lake, widely viewed as one of the contenders for the Western Conference title - except for its loss to conference doormat Chivas USA Saturday.
The news that can't be debated is today's announcement the Timbers, on July 24, will play host to Aston Villa of the English Premier League, a club nearly 140 years old with a roster of international stars.
Portland, of course, is also developing a roster of international stars. Who's got the edge? Tonight's show will debate how much of an edge Villa has.
It's all live from the Bulldog Tavern, located at 1650 W. Burnside St. in Portland. View the show on this page, and join the chat room to talk with the cast or Gates, who's work can be viewed at stumptownfooty.com.
Wow, did the Portland Timbers completely dominate the Philadelphia Union in their season opener Monday at Jeld-Wen Field.
After conceding an early second-half goal, they sent ball after ball up the left and right flanks and created scoring opportunity after opportunity, which turned into a goal midway through the half. And, then another goal. And then another, each of the three being sent home by a different player. With all the chances the team was creating, you could sense the urgency of other team members to get in on the feeding frenzy.
"I want mine, too, dammit!"
Especially as the goals were all scored in front of the rabid Timbers Army.
What might make the goals fabulous for the non-rabid fans is how they were scored - through those constant attacks, something Philadelphia just couldn't counter. The Union had a steady ball-control mentality, which regularly directed the ball backward, away from where it needed to go to score. This regularly happens with matches televised by ESPN or another sports channel.
Ball control might be sound soccer, but it's not so enjoyable to watch. The Timbers just shellacked the steady ball-control offense with its lightning quick outside midfielders, and, of course, Scottish newbie Kris Boyd.
What a game to be at, even in the constant rain. The people with the best seats all got absolutely soaked.
Boyd, in just two games - one a preseason affair, has put an offensive jolt into the Timbers, one that has to have the rest of the league taking notice. He scored tons of goals in Scotland, but Scotland isn't a truly memorable country on the European club stage. Every goal he scores is going to lift the prestige of Scottish soccer.
And, he's great at celebrating. All the Timbers are. Monday's game was a fabulous event for photographers, myself included, as the goals were celebrated wildly in front of the Timbers Army. "Wildly" means emotion, which is great for photos.
The team seems ready to provide plenty of good emotion shots this season.
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.