Timbers may have lost, but they were front and center on TV
By Cliff Pfenning, oregonsports.com
If you watched the Portland Timbers battle the Seattle Sounders on Sunday, you got a healthy dose of what makes the sport great, especially in the Northwest.
First, the U.S. women's victory over Brazil in the Women's World Cup showered the scrolling results and highlights included University of Portland grad Megan Rapinoe's assist to Abby Wambach in the final seconds of extra time to forge a 2-all tie that sent the match to penalty kicks.
That result only enlivened the Timbers game with the Sounders, which can be billed as the top rivalry in Major League Soccer in just the Timbers' first year in the league. The Timbers Army made the match more enjoyable with its European-style support. Even better, the match included plenty of scoring - five goals in the second half.
For soccer in the U.S., it was tremendous television all around.
On a very local level, women's soccer is gearing up to capture its own place in the media world as the Portland Rain gets ready for a run at a national title within the Women's Premier Soccer League. The team has even delved into online media with its first webcast via oregonsports.com. Portland leads the Northwest Division with just one weekend to play. The Rain is planning a fundraising event in preparation of traveling to California for the West Region playoffs.
A handball in the box called at the end of second-half stoppage time against Portland Timbers defender Rodney Wallace led to a penalty kick goal for New York and a 3-3 tie in another high-scoring, wild affair at JELD-Wen Field on Sunday night.
The penalty kick was converted by midfielder Dwayne De Rosario, capping a bizarre match that featured an own goal, the ejection of superstar Frenchman Thierry Henry and a flurry of yellow cards. New York are now undefeated in six straight, having drawn five of those.
The tie broke Portland’s two-game losing streak, during which the Timbers failed to score, but that will be little consolation as they squandered a 3-1 second-half lead.
Early in the match it seemed Portland would extend their losing streak, as New York took control with a goal in the fourth minute. It was Henry who provided the spark.
He started a series of perfect touch passes that left the Portland defense spinning, ending when De Rosario found Austin da Luz at the penalty spot for a tap-in.
For the remainder of the first half, it was tough going for Portland’s offense against the four-man Red Bulls back line. Meanwhile, New York continued to pressure Portland, with Timbers ‘keeper Troy Perkins coming quickly off his line to snuff out a Henry chance in the 22nd minute.
The Timbers ended up suffering through two-and-a-half games without a goal. Then they came in bunches.
Portland scored two goals in two minutes at the beginning of the second half, and then were handed another for good measure in the 68th minute on an own goal by former Timbers defender Stephen Keel.
Captain Jack Jewsbury tied the game in the 47th minute, pouncing on a poorly cleared ball at the top of the box and slamming it past a flat-footed Greg Sutton.
Two minutes later the Timbers found paydirt through their preferred route, as they punished the Red Bulls on a set piece. Jewsbury lofted a cross to the back post, where an unmarked Eric Brunner was free to head it back across the area. Former Red Bulls defender Kevin Goldthwaite beat the offside trap and flicked it into the open net, giving Portland a shocking, sudden 2-1 lead.
The own goal came 19 minutes later when Portland forward Jorge Perlaza got behind the defense and drew Sutton off his line. Perlaza’s cross was booted in by Keel as the defender attempted to clear.
After the two Portland goals, things became heated — and hotly contested.
New York charged back, once again through Henry. The striker started a series of one-touch passes that ended with da Luz putting him through on goal. Henry made no mistake, finishing with his left foot to make it 3-2 in the 73rd minute
Portland looked like restoring their two-goal lead in the 76th minute when Sutton was whistled for pulling down Perlaza in the area — a controversial call. But Jewsbury’s penalty attempt rapped off the left-hand post, setting the stage for the late drama.
In an off-the-ball incident deep in second-half stoppage, Henry saw straight for violent conduct against Timbers substitute Adam Moffat, who himself saw yellow for unsporting behavior on the play.
It seemed like RBNY were dead and buried, but four-and-a-half minutes into stoppage, De Rosario got ahold of a poor clearance from Goldthwaite and sent a hopeful, low cross into the area. Wallace inexplicably shot out his right arm, handling the ball in the box and giving the Canadian international the chance to play the hero.
De Rosario made no mistake, knotting the game at three just before the final whistle sounded.
New York (5-2-8, 23 points) have a short turnaround, traveling to Seattle for a Thursday night matchup. Portland (5-6-2, 17 points) meanwhile, hit the road for an away date at FC Dallas on Saturday.
In a year when the NFL is stuck in a lockout and the NBA is headed for one, what self-respecting sports franchise turns down cold, hard cash? The Seattle Sounders.
Preparing for one of the biggest MLS matches of the year in Saturday’s Cascadia Cup kickoff, the Sounders decided not to open new seating areas for traveling Timbers fans. This is how you know a rivalry is worth watching.
For their part, the Timbers Army plans to haul hundreds of fans up in ten buses to cheer on their side in the 75th meeting between these two teams.
Coming off a 1 – 0 victory over the Philadelphia Union, the Timbers are hot, going 4-1-1 in their last 6 regular-season MLS matchups. However, the Timbers have yet to get a win away from home and 36,000 Sounders fans will pack Qwest field Saturday, creating one of the MLS’s toughest venues for visiting teams.
Portland returns to the big leagues in soccer Thursday
After nearly 30 years since the North American Soccer League folded, the Rose City returns to the top level of U.S. soccer Thursday when the Portland Timbers play host to Chicago in a Major League Soccer match.
Not only is the game the first Portland will play as an MLS franchise, but it's the opening match for renovated Jeld-Wen Field - the former PGE Park.
Portland enters the game with a 0-2-1 record, while the Fire, one of the original MLS franchises, is 1-1-1. Chicago missed the league playoffs for only the second time last season, when it went 9-12-9.
The game will begin at 8 p.m., and be televised by ESPN2.
Portland 1, New England 1
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The Portland Timbers secured their first point in MLS by snatching a 1-1 draw at New England on Saturday night, April 2.
The Revolution, who remain undefeated thus far in 2011, opened the scoring after 22 minutes through rookie Stephen McCarthy's bouncing volley, but Timbers captain Jack Jewsbury lashed home Jeremy Hall's feed seven minutes before halftime to level the score.
Portland came closest to deciding the match with 20 minutes to play as Kalif Alhassan hit the near post from a free kick, but the Timbers settled for a share of the points to garner their first result as an MLS side following two straight road losses to start the season.
Defender Ryan Cochrane earned his first start as a member of the Revolution as Steve Nicol made just one enforced change to his starting XI. Cochrane, a Portland, Ore., native, replaced the injured Franco Coria (left hamstring strain) at center back. Ousmane Dabo (right quadriceps strain) and Marko Perovic (left hamstring strain) missed out on the match entirely.
Portland manager John Spencer made two changes from the side that defeated Chivas USA 2-0 in a U.S. Open Cup play-in match on Tuesday night. Hall and Jewsbury featured as substitutes against the Red-and-White, but they replaced Peter Lowry and Ryan Pore in the starting XI against the Revs. Spencer also saw his attacking options increase off the bench as Eddie Johnson (right Achilles tendonitis) and Darlington Nagbe (sports hernia) were deemed fit enough for a place among the substitutes for the first time in MLS action.
New England may not have registered a goal as early as it did in its previous two MLS encounters, but the Revs did start fairly brightly as they attempted to take advantage of Portland's rigorous travel itinerary in recent weeks.
Stand-in Timbers goalkeeper Jake Gleeson rushed off his line on a couple of occasions to thwart potential attempts by Zak Boggs and Didier Domi inside the first 17 minutes, while Revs winger Sainey Nyassi watched his effort hit the crossbar before deflecting out into touch.
The early pressure ultimately paid off as McCarthy notched his first career goal moments after Nyassi's strike. Portland failed to clear the ball on three separate occasions before the ball finally bounced out to McCarthy on the edge of the area. The rookie midfielder hit a bouncing volley that somehow eluded Gleeson and nestled into the far right corner of the net.
Portland responded after conceding and started to grab a foothold in the game as the first half progressed. The improvement finally yielded dividends seven minutes before halftime.
Kenny Cooper provided the impetus with an enterprising diagonal run through midfield toward the right side of the penalty area. The Timbers forward then played a diagonal ball back into Hall just above the penalty spot. Hall held off two defenders and then laid the ball off for his captain, Jewsbury, to slot home with his left foot.
New England attempted to change the calculus as the second half unfolded by injecting Kenny Mansally up front and switching to a 4-4-2 formation to match the Timbers' setup.
Mansally's introduction after 58 minutes and the corresponding alterations perked the Revs up a bit as the match entered the final half hour, but the home side lacked the quality in the final third to transfer its pressure into the winning goal.
Portland came closest to digging out a winner with 20 minutes to play after Kevin Alston's sloppy pass kick started a Timbers counter. Cooper goaded Cochrane into conceding a foul 25 yards from goal. On the ensuing free kick, Alhassan struck the near post.
Mansally combined with Nyassi to create a chance on 79 minutes, but Nyassi scuffed his shot wide and the Timbers saw out the final ten minutes comfortably enough to secure their first MLS point.
Kenny Cooper provides a second-half spark for Timbers
By Kelly McClain, timbersinsider.com
Kenny Cooper scored the first-ever Timbers MLS goal on a set piece in 80th minute Saturday night, but it was too little, too late as Portland fell to the Colorado Rapids 1-3 in front of 17,139 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
The Rapids came out looking like the reigning MLS Cup champs and notched three goals in the first half against the deer-in-the-headlights Timbers. The home team scored first in the 8th minute after Rapids forward Omar Cummings somehow emerged with the ball from a scrum with two Timbers defenders near the corner flag. Cummings darted into the box and sent a low hard cross in front of goal which Jeff Larentowicz finally put away after an initial deflection from goalkeeper Adin Brown.
The Timbers nearly equalized minutes later when Jorge Perlaza got behind the Rapids defense, brought down a Steve Purdy long ball and had just the keeper to beat. Perlaza tried to knick one over Colorado goalkeeper Matt Pickens, but his attempted flick of the bouncing ball landed just beyond the goal.
“That’s a [potential] game changer,” said head coach John Spencer following the match. “We had two chances in the first half that would have put a little bit of a different mentality going into halftime—tied 1-1, or maybe down 2-1.”
Instead, the Rapids extended their lead. First in the 29th and then again just a minute later. Colorado probably should have had their second even earlier than the 29th minute after defender Kevin Goldthwaite misjudged a bouncing ball and then got turned by Cummings who laid a ball across the six for an oncoming Casey Conor who graciously missed the mostly open goal and knocked it off the post.
But seven minutes later the home side got the second goal they were seeking when Casey flicked on a ball to Cummings. After initially being stopped by an onrushing Adin Brown, Cummings made sure he was the first one to get back to a sitting ball as bodies sprawled out in every direction, and calmly drove the ball into an empty net.
One minute later an opportunistic Jamie Smith caught the Timbers defense off guard when he pounced on a deflected ball rolling through the middle of the pitch 25 yards out from Brown’s goal and ripped what John Spencer later called a “world class goal” into the top right corner.
The second half saw more chances for both sides, but only the Cooper free kick found the back of the net for either squad. From 35 yards away, Cooper drove a low ball towards the left side of the wall. As a number of players jumped up, the ball took a slight deflection off a player’s foot and skidded into the side netting.
Portland looked a bit calmer and more composed at times during the second half, but overall tentative play and unforced errors gave Colorado all the chances they needed. The rapids ended the match with 12 shots to the Timbers 5, and an appalling 8-1 advantage in shots on goal.
“We’re disappointed with the way the first half went,” said captain Jack Jewsbury. “But guys could have put their heads down and given up more. Instead, I thought the guys fought back really hard in the second half.”
Lineups POR: GK Brown, D Purdy, D Brunner, D Goldthwaite (Horst, 46), D Wallace (Alhassan, 66), M Pore, M Lowry (Moffat, 46), M Jewsbury, M Hall, F Cooper, F Perlaza Substitutes Not Used: GK Gleeson, D Danso, M Zizzo, F Umony
COL: GK Pickens, D Kimura, D Wynne, D Moor, D Wallace, M Mullan (Thompson, 89), M Larentowicz, M Mastroeni (Nyassi, 77), M Smith, F Casey (Amarikwa, 61), F Cummings Substitutes Not Used: GK Ceus, D Holody, D Palguta, M LaBauex
The Portland Timbers used the second overall pick in the first round of the MLS SuperDraft to pick up 2010 Hermann Trophy winner striker/midfielder Darlington Nagbe.
Following the Vancouver Whitecaps FC selection of forward Omar Salgado with the first overall pick, Portland snatched up the dynamic Nagbe who is fresh from the 2010 NCAA national championship team University of Akron.
Said Spencer, “We’ve now picked up in our eyes probably the best young player in the country in Darlington Nagbe.”
Nagbe was the first of a record five players in the first round taken from the University of Akron and comes to the team after a stellar career at the school. Scoring a total of 19 goals and 19 assists over 73 games, he was also a NSCAA Second Team All-American.
Given the long list of strong players in this draft—let alone the great list of players from the University of Akron—Spencer was clear as to why Nagbe was at the top of the Timbers list,
“I just think that he’s a game winner. He’s a game changer. I don’t think it was only us here in this room today who would have loved to have put their scarf around him or put his name on the back of their jersey. He’s a kid that can change the face of the game. He can score goals. He can assist on goals. He’s just a super super young footballer. We’re really happy to have him.”
Not one to sit idle, Technical Director and General Manager Gavin Wilkinson followed up their first pick with a couple of trades. First trading with archrival Seattle the Timbers’ first 2nd round pick in the 2011 SuperDraft (20th overall) and allocation money for the Sounders 1st round pick (11th overall) and an international roster spot for one year. The Timbers then traded that 11th overall selection to the Houston Dynamo for allocation money.
Said Spencer, “The trade came on the table that we could keep a foreign spot and get some allocation which always helps further down the line.”
With their eyes then turned to the second round, the Timbers picked up defender Chris Taylor from the University of Tulsa. Taylor, a four-year starter at Tulsa, was a 2010 Third Team All-Conference USA member while racking up 8 goals and 17 assists over the course of 82 games in his college career.
“[Taylor] kind of flew under the radar for us,” said Spencer.
“We didn’t know much about him until we saw him at the Combine and he had a very good Combine. Good athleticism. Looking to get forward. Not letting any of the strikers go on overlapping runs. He looked to have a good engine.”
Portland fans will see a few familiar faces next season when the MLS version of Timbers takes the field next season. At a press conference Tuesday, the Timbers announced their first four signings to the MLS club.
There were no surprises among the three returning players. Steve Cronin, Bright Dike, and Ryan Pore all had outstanding seasons for the club.
With Cronin in net the last two years, the Timbers have been very hard to score against. He was USL Goalkeeper of the Year in 2009 and will likely be named to the USSFD-2 Second team this season. Cronin has played for the LA Galaxy and DC United in the MLS.
Dike joined the Timbers in April after being released by the Columbus Crew. He became a fan favorite for the squad with 14 goals in all competitions. His rugged style and determination gives him a unique style as a forward.
Ryan Pore became the first Timber player in team history to lead the league in both goals (15) and points (35). He played three seasons for the Kansas City Wizards before joining the Timbers in 2009.
Englishman Eddie Johnson is the only player announced today that didn’t play for the Timbers in 2010. Johnson has played for the USL’s Austin Aztex for the last two seasons and was the runner-up to Pore in the league scoring race this season with 14 goals and 32 points. Johnson once played 8 minutes for Manchester United in 2003 in a Carling Cup match against Leeds United.
Before the presser, Wilkinson also said that the Timbers will sign two more players from the 2010 Timbers squad. He said one will be a midfielder who was outstanding at the end of the season (Most likely Kalif Alhassan) and the other a defender who also came on strong (I believe it will be Gambian International Futty Danso).
While no one knows how the first four signings will do for the Timbers it is interesting to look back at other franchises first signings (Listed by the year they first played in the MLS).
2010- Philadelphia Union signed no players before their expansion draft.
2009- The Seattle Sounders first played signed was Frenchman Sebastien Le Toux. Le Toux had played for the USL version of the Sounders. Le Toux had 15 starts in 2009 for Seattle. Le Toux was then selected by the Union in the expansion draft. This season Le Toux was named to the MLS all-star team and has 13 goals and 11 assists.
2008- The San Jose Earthquakes signed no players before their expansion draft
2007- The MLS’s first Canadian team, Toronto FC, made Canadian national team player Jim Brennan the club’s first signing. The defender had played for numerous English teams before returning to Canada. Brennan played in 84 games for Toronto in three seasons, before retiring at the beginning of 2010.
2005- Real Salt Lake made a splash when they traded for Jason Kreis, who had scored 91 goals for the MLS’s Dallas Burn prior to being the RSL’s first player. Kreis scored the first goal in club history for both Real Salt Lake and the Dallas Burn. Kreis retired after the 2007 season to become RSL’s head coach. Kreis led RSL to the 2009 MLS Cup championship.
Chivas USA signed no players before their expansion draft.
Somewhere between Ryan Pore’s game-winning goal for a 10-man Timbers squad against Vancouver in April and Kalif Alhassan’s equalizer in Vancouver on Saturday, I fell in love with this season’s Portland Timbers.
The year 2010 has been looked at as both an end of an era and a bridge to the future to the MLS arriving in 2011. But to me, the 2010 Timbers are exactly that, the 2010 Timbers. It is a disservice to the current roster to think of this season as an afterthought on the run to greener pastures.
This year’s Timbers team has literally everything you could ask from a team.
Nothing was handed to the squad this year. Playing in front of some of the largest home crowds in the history of its league, the Timbers had a clear bullseye on their collective backs when other teams came to town.
Heading into the June 19th match with Minnesota, the Timbers hadn’t won a league game in their last 8 regular season contests. Since then, Portland has reeled off a stretch of 10 wins, six draws, and two defeats.
The Timbers have resurrected the season with outstanding defense led by Gambian international Mamadou “Futty” Danso and goalkeeper Steve Cronin, who is in the top two of every major goalkeeping statistic in the league.
But the wins and losses aren’t the reason that this team resonates with me unlike any other. It is the fact that the players have embraced the city, the fan, and what it means to be a Portland Timber.
Portland has been called “Soccer City, USA” for longer than the players on this year’s team have been alive. Soccer is not a fad in Portland and I’m sure most of the team has realized it throughout the course of the season.
Maybe they realized it when 15,000-plus people showed up for the season opener on April 17 or when the team was serenaded with sunflowers during the home finale against Puerto Rico.
Or maybe it wasn’t until two hours after their match had ended Saturday in Vancouver, when they arrived at the US border crossing to find 30 or so Timbers fans that had taken a bus provided by the front office. After going through security, the Timbers were greeted by a makeshift human tunnel of fans, who just couldn’t get enough of their team.
As Gavin Wilkinson went around the tunnel, a giant smile appeared on his face. Wilkinson has been a great coach for this version of the Timbers and he has always been a great link to the fans.
The smile on his face is similar to the one I had on my face as I sat on the fan bus for the six hour drive from Canada. It was then I realized how much this team had meant to me as a fan this year. It was worth of all the money I had spent of tickets, beer, food, scarfs, and shirts this year. In fact, no amount of money would equal the affection I have for this team.
The founder of Deadspin.com Will Leitch once said, "I was foolish to think anything as peripheral as money could ruin something as pure, visceral and cleansing as sports." This year’s Timbers squad is the essence of what is good about sports. A group of men playing for each other, for their fans, for their city.
It is fitting that the captain of the 2010 Portland Timbers has the name of Joy. Because that perfectly describes what this season was. A Joy.
It's back to Merlo Field for the Timbers next week.
With PGE Park under construction for the move to Major League Soccer, the Timbers will use the stadium at the University of Portland as their home field for the USSF Div. II playoffs.
The game will be something of a homecoming for the Timbers as Harry Merlo, who's large donation funded the construction of the Pilots' home field in 1990, is a former owner of the Timbers.
Portland played an international friendly against Manchester City at Merlo Field in July.
Portland's opponent has yet to be named, but the game will kick off at 6 p.m.
In addition to Portland, the playoff field includes the Austin Aztex, Carolina RailHawks, NSC Minnesota Stars, Montreal Impact, Puerto Rico Islanders, Rochester Rhinos and Vancouver Whitecaps.
The Timbers conclude the regular season Saturday on the road against Northwest-rival and fellow MLS expansion side Vancouver at Swangard Stadium in Burnaby, B.C.; kickoff is set for 4 p.m.
Playoff tickets are currently available in three-game strips for $65; all playoff tickets are general admission. To purchase a playoff ticket strip, contact the Timbers ticket office by phoning (503) 553-5555. A select number of single-game playoff tickets will be made available on match day.
Playoff strips at a discounted rate of $37 are available to season ticket holders for the Timbers' inaugural Major League Soccer season in 2011. To purchase 2011 MLS season tickets, call the Timbers ticket office at (503) 553-5555.
The USSF D-2 Pro League playoffs begin the week of Oct. 4, and feature a two-game, aggregate-goals series in the first, semifinal and championship rounds. The top eight clubs in the league advance to the postseason, with the two conference leaders occupying the top two seeds; all eight clubs will compete in the first round.