Timbers

Timbers, Pilots share a common denominator

Harry Merlo not only supported UP's program, he owned the Timbers
By Cliff Pfenning, oregonsports.com

Harry Merlo.

The name is recognized for the University of Portland's prized soccer field (how many fields actually have grass on them anymore?), and as a supporter of sporting events in the 80s by Oregonians family with the state's history.

But, most people don't know of his history with the Portland Timbers - as owner for three seasons through through the lumber company Lousiana Pacific, which he was president of for 22 years.

With the team ready to fold, Merlo came to the rescue in 1980 and provided plenty of cash and optimism - including the franchises indoor team - in rollicking days of the North American Soccer League.

Portland had already established itself as Soccer City, USA, in the stands, and Merlo sought to take advantage of that on the field through signing European players. But, it didn't take and the team finished above .500 in just one of those three seasons. With the team unprofitable at the close of the '82 season, Merlo looked for a buyer but none arrived. The team folded.

The three extra years, though, helped Soccer City, USA, long into the future, though, as many influential figures in the Rose City's soccer history arrived, or remained here from their home bases in Great Britain.

The story of Portland's soccer roots are covered in 

Oregonsports Journal

 

Timbers rebound with defense

An early score leads to 1-0 win over Nashville
Staff Report

Completely different game, completely different result - that's what the Portland Timbers gave their fans Sunday at Providence Park.

A week after dominating possession against Minnesota in a 3-1 loss to open the Major League Soccer season, the Timbers got an early goal and essentially played defense for three-fourths of the match. But, it ended 1-0 in favor of the home team against expansion Nashville.

Diego Valeri scored a highlight-reel goal in the 12th minute and the Timbers held Nashville to just four shots on goal, sending the visitors to their second loss in as many games.

Portland managed just two shots on goal and finished with no corner kicks, while Nashville had nine. The opener featured just two corner kicks for the host team.

The Timbers had a 57-43 edge in possession in their opener, but trailed 52-48 against Nashville.

Portland was charged with three yellow cards, including midfielder Diego Chara, who will miss Sunday's game at New England due to also picking one up against Minnesota.

And, yet, the win was the important part, moving the team to seventh in the 13-team Western Conference.

"Sometimes these games are not pretty," Portland coach Giovanni Savarese told media afterward. "The important thing for us was to make sure that we got a win to get three points."

Valeri's goal came after the visitors were unable to clear possession farther than the edge of the 18-yard box and Andy Polo found Portland's top scorer and he fired a shot from the left side to the top right of the goal for his second score of the season.

"I was so happy about it," Valeri told media. "You always want to see the ball in the net."

Valeri, with a penalty kick in the opener, has both of Portland's scores this season.

New England is 0-1-1, one point.

 

 

Timbers show off to some degree

A frustrating 3-1 loss to Minnesota is plenty to talk about
Staff Report

The Portland Timbers opened the 2020 Major League Soccer season with a dazzling performance in front of their home fans at Providence Park - for a half.

But, the second half was a different story and without having scored in the first half, the Western Conference rival Loons took advantage of several defensive lapses and left town with a 3-1 victory in hand before another sold out crowd.

Portland got a score from Diego Valeri on a penalty kick, but Minnesota got a pair of goals from Kevin Molina and became the first road team to win in a season opener in Portland since the club joined MLS 10 years ago.

Luis Amarilla scored Minnesota's other goal in his first match since joining the team on loan from Argentinian squad Velez Sarsfield.

Portland put plent of pressure on the visitors and finished with 57 percent of possession, 14-10 edge in shots and passing advantage of 513-367. But Minnesota used an effective counterattack to score three times, finishing with a 22-18 edge in crosses and two thirds of their passes coming in the Timbers defensive half.

The match was the league opener for Portland forward Felipe Mora, who is on loan from Pumas in Liga MX, Yimmi Chara, who moved up from Athletico Miniero in Brazil and joined his brother Diego in midfield, and defender Dario Zuparic, who moved over from Croatian side HNK Rijeka.

Next up, the Timbers face expansion franchise FC Nashville, which opened its league existence with a 2-1 loss to Atlanta before a crowd of 59,069 fans at Nissan Stadium - home of the NFL's Tennessee Titans.

NO PITY CITY PDX

 


 

 

Timbers, Thorns made some memories in 2019

Portland got an entertainment overload even without a title
By Cliff Pfenning

In early May, Brian Fernandez arrived at Portland International Airport and was greeted by an anonymous person, who stood next to him, lit up with a big smile and had someone take a photo of them together. 

Fernandez, a 24-year-old Argentinian, had just been signed by the Portland Timbers from his team in Mexico’s Liga MX, wore a long-sleeve shirt, faded jeans, and hat and had a guarded look on his face as if to say, “who are you? And are with the team?” 

Then more people showed up for photos, and then more. As the photos progressed, Fernandez seemed to figure out these were fans and he just landed in a hotspot of soccer fandom - and his face lit up, too. Soon, Fernandez started showing up on social media with a beaming smile when anyone noticed him and asked for a selfie. And, why not? Portland loved him and he performed.

Fernandez had one of the all-time great introductions to a new team starting slightly more than a week later. Having arrived on May 6 after the team paid an estimated $10 million for his rights, he scored his first goal May 15 after being inserted late in the match at Houston. Then, he scored again - twice - in the next match, and again in the next match. Fernandez scored in this first five Major League Soccer matches, something that had not been done since the league began in 1996, and added scores in two US Open Cup matches giving him nine goals in his first seven appearances in a Timbers kit.

Portland vaulted from being just a team to a contender for another trip to a league final, something it did just last year. But, then all the optimism came crashing down. Fernandez stopped scoring in every game and ended the season in substance-abuse rehab. Emotional sideline outbursts lit up social media, as did rumors of contract negotiations. And, of course, there was the Iron Front, which led the Timbers Army into a national discussion of civil liberties. That was the Timbers.

The Thorns, the women’s side of the franchise, were equally dramatic starting with the Women’s World Cup. The team had four players on the winning US side, which vaulted into nation attention for its success and dispute with USA Soccer over equal pay with the much-less successful men’s team. 

Portland led the National Women’s Soccer League for much of the season and seemed headed for another trip to a final and third league title when suddenly it stopped scoring, and closed out its season with a half-hearted loss in the first round of the playoffs.

Both the Timbers and Thorns lost their first playoff match and had their seasons close out this past weekend. As the playoffs head toward crowning league champions, Portland fans will only be able to follow from afar. And yet, it was not a boring year. 

The 2019 season might have been the most memorable, at least in terms of story-telling, since the franchise initially arrived in 1975 and led fans to claim the monicker of “Soccer City, USA.” In fact, that 1975 team was inducted into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame in September.

If the goal of a sports team is entertainment, the 2019 season for the Timbers and Thorns might be the most entertaining for any team that’s not going to win a league title. Fernandez arrived, Diego Chara finally played in a league All-Star Game, Diego Valeri reached the 70-70 mark and Steve Clark played stellar in goal in a season that started with 12-straight road matches. And the Thorns had the thrill of the World Cup and an early-season rise to the top of the league in spite of all those road matches only to slide in a historic level.

And, there was the Iron Front.

It all started March 2 in Denver, where so much snow landed on the field the second half had to be stopped to dig out the lines so everyone could see where the field ended. The match started at 18 degrees - the coldest in league history. Portland led 3-2 and had a man advantage in extra time, but the Rapids scored to force a 3-3 draw leading Timbers fans to snap their fingers and think what could have been with just a little more defense. 

The Denver result was a huge missed opportunity because the team lost its next five matches and was at the bottom of the league with just one point after six weeks.

The switch to Clark in goal seemed to start a turnaround. Portland won its next three matches as rumors of the Fernandez deal swirled across the land. Then he landed and the franchise really took off and the team rose to as high as No. 5 in some weekly power rankings. And then they started playing at home after the $85 million expansion of Providence Park finally finished up. Fans in the Timbers Army began arriving at the stadium half a day ahead of matches to be allowed in an extra 30 minutes early, continuing the city’s love affair with the franchise. All those home matches, though - 17 of the remaining 22, led to a thought of the players becoming complacent. The Army wasn’t complacent.

With politics sweeping the nation ahead of the 2020 Election, the league’s ban on political signage hit the Army due to its support of a symbol from 1930s Germany. The Iron Front, three arrows pointing downward diagonally, represented a group that opposed facist Nazis until 1933. The symbol, being waved on flags across the North end of the stadium, drew the league’s ire, especially after politicians in Washington starting deeming anti-facists as terrorists because of the violence that often erupted when they showed up to events organized by White Nationalists.  

With the team, somewhat incredibly, banning fans from matches, all manners of protests were tossed about on social media, from just not showing up, to walking out, to not purchasing concessions. Eventually, it turned into a silent protest for the first 33 minutes of the Aug. 23 match with rival Seattle, which included Seattle fans. Being televised by FOX, the stadium had never been as quiet. 

A month later, the league relented and eased its policy on fan support to allow for the Iron Front.

The protest received national attention, but it also received on-field attention as the team lost 2-1 and social media lit up because owner Merritt Paulson apparently cussed the fans out - linking the protest to the loss. 

The Timbers were potentially headed for as high as second place in the Western Conference, but a late-season collapse halted that dream. Portland finished the season with one win and three draws in its last six matches - just six points of a possible 18, and missed second place by just seven points, falling all the way to six instead.

A 2-1 loss at Real Salt Lake ended the season, Oct. 19.

Still, Chara, perhaps the team’s most revered player, played in his first All-Star Game in his ninth season in the league.

Valeri, the league’s MVP just two seasons ago, reached the level of 70 goals and 70 assists, becoming only the ninth player in league history to accomplish that feat. 

And, Clark, who started the season as the back-up to Jeff Attinella, had two entries on the online Save of the Year ballot - the lone keeper to have two entries.

The original Timbers, the 1975 squad of 17 primarily British players that reached the NASL final in its inaugural season, received a spot in the Hall, Sept. 24. The five members on hand for the ceremony at the Multnomah Athletic Club, noted the season was highly memorable for the fan support - two playoff crowds topped 30,000 fans, and the length of the season - 10 weeks by their memories. The regular season actually lasted 14 weeks, May 2 through August 9 for a 22-match schedule. To save money, the team’s East Coast road swing lasted nine days: four matches in nine days, including matches in Hartford, Conn., and Boston on consecutive days (played before crowds of 2,582 and 1,518, respectively).

The Thorns set an attendance record for their 2019 campaign, closing with an average of 20,098 fans per game - better than more than half of MLS teams. The World Cup buzz might have had something to do with that as four of the team’s starters: Tobin Heath, Lindsey Horan, Emily Sonnet and Adrianna Franch, helping the US win the Cup, closing with a 2-0 win over The Netherlands, July 7. 

The Thorns had five other players in the tournament as well, including team captain Christine Sinclair.

Portland opened the season with its bevy of international players and scored eight goals in its first three matches before the World Cup called for talent at the start of May. The Thorns had three wins, a pair of draws and just one loss in the six road matches it played before opening at home, June 2, with a 3-0 win over Chicago. With 11 of its remaining 17 matches at home, the team was on fire.

When the US starters returned for a July 24 home match with Houston, magic erupted in a 5-0 victory before 22,329 fans. The Thorns closed out August with a 3-0 home win over Chicago and had 10 wins, six draws and only three losses for the season. Then, the goals ended. 

Over the remaining six weeks, the Thorns scored just one goal and managed to rack up only four points in the standings from a potential 15. Meanwhile, North Carolina, the defending league champion, won eight of its final nine matches, a stretch that included a 6-0 win over Portland, and finished first in the league standings for the third consecutive year.

With a 1-0 loss at Chicago, Sunday, the season came to a halt, leading into much-needed discussion of the future of the women’s game. In the NWSL, that includes league sponsors (Budweiser became the official beer sponsor), media rights and expansion franchises, one of which is due for Louisville, Ky., in 2021. And, the US women’s team salaries.

Put altogether, FC Portland had a truly memorable year, without winning a title.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Timbers primed for season

Portland begins Sunday in Los Angeles
By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports.com

Season eight is just about active for the Portland Timbers, and their many fans.

After an off-season of trades, signings and a new coach, the Timbers will begin the Major League Soccer regular season Sunday at the StubHub Center in Los Angeles against the Galaxy.

Portland will enter the pitchas the top returning team from the Western Conference last season, although that resulted in a playoff loss immediately, which kept the franchise from the CONCACAF Cup, which would have been its second foray into the North American Champions League.

The Timbers did, though, regain the Cacadia Cup by virtue of its three wins against the Vancouver Whitecaps and a pair of draws against the Seattle Sounders. Portland had eight differenct players score its nine Cup goals and secured the Cup for the first time since 2012 after having held it in 2009 and 2010 while playing the USL.

Portland will be looking to win its second MLS title, three years after winning its first.

Giovanni Savarese takes over as head coach after Caleb Porter capped a very successful five-year run. In the past two months, the team signed a handful of international players geared toward making the team's offense much more impressive.

And, the Timbers traded much beloved midfielder Darlington Nagbe to Atlanta.

The MLS season begins with 23 teams as LAFC joins the league. The season begins Saturday.

Miami and Nashville have been awarded franchises as the league moves toward 26 teams by 2021.

 

Portland Timbers Schedule

Major League Soccer

2020 Schedule
 

MARCH

1      MINNESOTA UNITED, Loss 3-1
8      NASHVILLE SC, Win 1-0
15    At New England, 10:30 a.m., Sun.
22    At Los Angeles FC, 6 p.m., Sun.
28    PHILADELPHIA UNION, 7:30 p.m., Sat.

APRIL

4      At Houston Dynamo, 5:30 p.m., Sat.
14    FC DALLAS, 7:30 p.m., Sat.
19    At Atlanta United, 3:30 p.m., Sun. 
25    VANCOUVER WHITECAPS, 7 p.m., Sat.

MAY

2      LA GALAXY, 12:30 p.m., Sat.
9      At Real Salt Lake, 6 p.m., Sat.
17    SEATTLE SOUNDERS, 2 p.m., Sun.
23    At Minnesota United, 5 p.m., Sat.
27    At Chicago Fire, 5 p.m., Wed.
30    At Orlando Pride, 4:30 p.m., Sat.

JUNE

13    SPORTING KANSAS CITY, 2 p.m., Sat. 
17    COLORADO RAPIDS, 7:30 p.m., Wed.
21    At New York Red Bulls, 2 p.m., Sun.
28    At Sporting Kansas City, 3:30 p.m., Sun.

JULY

1      COLUMBUS CREW, 7:30 p.m., Wed.
5      At Nashville SC, 4 p.m., Sun.
11    At Colorado Rapids, 6 p.m., Sat.
18    SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES, 7:30 p.m., Sat.
21    TBD, Lamar Hunt Cup, quarterfinals
25    HOUSTON DYNAMO, 7:30 p.m., Sat.

AUGUST

2      At Los Angeles Galaxy, 7 p.m., Sun.
8      FC CINCINNATI, 7:30 p.m., Sat.
16    INTER MIAMI CF, 6 p.m., Sun.
22    At Seattle Sounders, 12:30 p.m., Sat.
30    LOS ANGELES FC, 6 p.m., Sun.

SEPTEMBER

5      At FC Dallas, 5:30 p.m., Sat. 
12    At San Jose Earthquakes, 7 p.m., Sat.
19    FC TORONTO, 6 p.m., Sat.
26    REAL SALT LAKE, 7:30 p.m., Sat.

OCTOBER

4      At Vancouver Whitecaps, 1:30 p.m., Sun.

 

Timbers keep roster fluid

Portland acquires another International standout
By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports.com

Samuel Armenteros, one of the most experienced players in Europe, has signed with the Portland Timbers, the club announced Friday.

Set to turn 28-years old this year, the twice-capped Swede is currently on the books of Serie A club Benevento, and will be on a season-long loan with the Timbers, who may then chose to purchase his contract.

Armenteros has had successful stints in Holland and Belgium prior to heading to Italy to play in one of the world’s best leagues.

During the previous season, Armenteros scored 22 goals in 32 matches with Heracles of the Dutch Eredivisie league.

He scored one goal in nine matches in Italy.

“Samuel Armenteros has a proven track record of scoring goals, and we will look for him to help bolster our attacking corps for the 2018 MLS season,” Portland GM Gavin Wilkinson said in a statement. “It was a priority of ours to bring in another attacker who can help influence games for us. As we looked to strengthen our group this season, we believe that Samuel has the proper mindset and characteristics to have a positive impact with this club.”

Armenteros will likely compete for time with Nigerian striker Fanendo Adi, who is returning to play under new coach Giovanni Savarese after it briefly appeared he might make an overseas move. Also age 27, Adi has 42 league goals across the past three seasons, including 16 each in 2015 and 2016 before hitting 10 in an injury-obstructed 2017 campaign.

The Timbers were in the market for attacking depth after they traded Darren Mattocks to D.C. United this past offseason.

“We are pleased to add another quality attacker to our team," Savarese said. "Samuel is a player with good technical ability that can bring others into the game and has proved to be a prolific goal-scorer. We look forward to building Samuel into the squad during the remainder of preseason, and having yet another solid attacking option to rely on for the upcoming season.”

Portland begins its eighth season in Major League Soccer in March.

 

Timbers have plenty of training camp talent

Portland's roster is stacked

2018 TRAINING CAMP

No. Name                          Age Home 

9 Fanendo Adi                    27 Nigeria

5 Vytas Andriuskevicius       27 Lithuania

19 Victor Arboleda              21 Columbia

27 Dairon Asprilla               25 Columbia

1 Jeff Attinella                    29 US/Florida

23 Jack Barnby                   23 England

10 Sebastian Blanco            29 Argentina

x Julio Cascante                  24 Costa Rica

21 Diego Chara                   21 Columbia

47 Rennico Clarke               22 Jamaica

x Caleb Duvernay                21 US/N.C.

17 Jeremy Ebobisse             20 US/Maryland

32 Marco Farfan                  19 US/Oregon

x Andrews Flores                 27 El Salvador

90 Jake Gleeson                  27 New Zealand

x Mamadou Guirassy           22 France

20 David Guzman               27 Costa Rica

x Stuart Holdthusen            22 New Zealand

x Modou Jadama                 23 The Gambia

x Foster Langsdorf               22 US/Washington

33 Larrys Mabiala                30 France

43 Kendall McIntosh            24 US/California

26 Lucas Melano                 24 Argentina

7 Roy Miller                        33 Costa Rica

x Tim Mueller                     22 US/Idaho

4 Chance Myers                  30 US/California

13 Lawrence Olum              33 Kenya

x Andy Polo                        23 Peru

2 Alvas Powell                    23 Jamaica

24 Liam Ridgewell               33 England

23 Bill Tuiloma                   22 New Zealand

16 Zarek Valentin               26 US/Pennsylvania

8 Diego Valeri                    31 Argentina

x Eryk Williamson              21 US/Virginia

COACH: Giovani Savarese, first season

 

Timbers introduce Gio to Portland

New Portland coach talks of his first experiences in the Rose City
By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports.com

PORTLAND - Giovanni Savarese said all the right things in all the right ways during his first press conference as head coach of the Portland Timbers Monday at Providence Park.

Savarese flew into Portland this past weekend and has been getting a fast introduction to the city, including getting his hair cut.

"The lady cutting my hair asked where I was from because of my accent," said Savarese, a native of Venezuela who speaks four languages. "She told me it was easy to spot because I had walked in with an umbrella. I know now people from here don't use umbrellas."

Savarese is the team's third head coach, and follows Caleb Porter, who guided the team to the MLS Cup title in 2015. Porter left the franchise following the 2017 season after a dispute with management.

After five seasons as coach of the New York Cosmos in the North American Soccer League, which came with three league titles, Savarese, 46, said the move to Portland was the right fit.

"This is a great franchise, and I think any coach would love to be here," he said during the 25-minute press conference. "I've had other opportunites to move from the Cosmos, but this just felt like the right move at the right time."

Portland begins it's eighth season in Major League Soccer March 4 in Los Angeles against the Galaxy, and plays its first home game April 12 against Minnesota.

 

Savarese ready for Portland intro

Timbers get 2018 moving with new coach, schedule
Staff report

PORTLAND - The Portland Timbers plan to introduce new head coach Giovanni Savarese to the public Monday through a press conference at Providence Park. This comes a week after announcing the team’s schedule for the 2018 season that begins March 4 in Los Angeles against the Galaxy, and at home April 12 against Minnesota.

A Venezuelan international and distinguished scorer during his own 18-year playing career, which included 52 goals in 121 MLS regular-season and playoff appearances with the MetroStars (now New York Red Bulls), New England Revolution and San Jose Earthquakes, Savarese becomes the third full-time head coach of the Timbers’ MLS era, succeeding Caleb Porter, who departed Portland shortly after the conclusion of their 2017 campaign.

The 46-year-old arrives from the NASL’s New York Cosmos, where he enjoyed five years of sustained success in a variety of circumstances, leading the Cosmos to league championships in 2013, 2015 and 2016 as well as a trip to this year’s championship game, where they fell to the San Francisco Deltas. He departs the club with an overall regular-season record of 65-26-51.

“We are excited to bring Gio on board as the club’s head coach. Gio brings a wealth of experience across all levels of the game, and his playing philosophy aligns with the expectations of the club and suits the playing personnel,” said Gavin Wilkinson, general manager and president of soccer for the Timbers. “His leadership and man-management, coupled with his core values and previous accomplishments, made him the right fit for this club, and we are delighted to welcome him to the Timbers.”

Though born in Caracas, Savarese carries a deep knowledge of the US soccer landscape. He played college soccer at Long Island University and coached in the MetroStars’ and Cosmos’ youth systems before ascending to the professional level. He also logged extended time abroad as a player, most prominently with Swansea City and Millwall in Great Britain.

“I am both excited and proud to become the head coach of the Portland Timbers, and this is an ideal fit and outstanding opportunity for me as I take the next step in my coaching career,” Savarese said. “The passion, ambition and support surrounding this club is truly inspiring, and I am sincerely honored and grateful for this opportunity to lead it on the pitch and to build on the club’s history of success for the community and the incredible supporters of the Portland Timbers.”

MLS Cup winners under Porter in 2015, the Timbers finished first in the MLS Western Conference standings during the 2017 season but fell to the underdog Houston Dynamo in the conference semifinal round of the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, wracked by a devastating postseason injury crisis. Playmaker Diego Valeri won this year’s Landon Donovan MLS MVP award, while influential midfielder Darlington Nagbe left the club via a blockbuster trade with Atlanta United last week.

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