Portland Timbers

Timbers, MLS begin road back to business

Individual workouts are active at training facilities
Staff Report

The MLS season is still on hold with no return date in sight, but players were given the go-ahead by league officials to start working out on company land and they did Thursday.

With their training facility separated into zones, several Portland Timbers started workouts to return to game-day condition, and they were more than happy to get that return nod.

“It felt almost therapeutic to be back out there on the field ...,” Timbers forward Jeremy Ebobisse said, speaking to the media from his home via a Zoom video conference. "To get out there and see some of the other faces, as well, even if it’s from a distance. The bond felt closer today.”

“[T]o be in such safe conditions was really, really important to my mental health."

Players took rotating shifts on the Timbers’ field, with the pitch divided into personalized quadrants to endure social distancing. For sanitation purposes, players were responsible for maintaining their own equipment and gear, with daily wellness quizzes as well as temperature checks ensuring anyone exhibiting symptoms of the novel coronavirus did not have access to the grounds.

“We have been waiting for a long time to be able to come back to the facility, to be able to train,” Timbers head coach Giovanni Savarese said. “One thing that we definitely miss is having the players here, training in our field – being here, around, doing our job.”

“It’s amazing to be here …,” captain Diego Valeri said. “Obviously, it’s nice to start working out again on a field, with different kinds of spaces, even with social distances, watching our teammates training, too.”

Portland split its first two matches - both played at Providence Park, when the season was put on indefinite hold due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

 

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 energize the Rose City

It's a 3-2 loss to LAFC, but Portland shows off to the world
Staff report

After three months and 12 games on the road, the Portland Timbers finally played in front of home fans and didn't disappoint other than on the scoreboard.

With mid-season signee Brian Ferenandez scoring his fourth goal of the season, the Timbers pushed Los Angeles FC all the way to a sideline rumble during second-half added time before dropping a 3-2 decision before 25,218 fans at remodeled Providence Park.

Fernandez scored on a bicycle kick in the 84th minute in front of the Timbers Army as the team rallied from a two-goal deficit for the second time. Cristhian Paredes scored Portland's first goal in the first minute of the second half to cut a 2-0 deficit in half. LA then scored in minute 54 to advance to 3-1.

Carlos Vela opened the scoring in the sixth minute, taking an errant pass from Timbers goalkeeper Jeff Attinella and firing it past him for his league-leading 16th goal of the season. LA added a goal by Diego Rossi in the 34th minute.

The match was the second victory for LAFC between the teams, although the first one finished off 4-1 in March in LA. With Fernandez leading the effort, the Timbers appeared as a different team, especially playing from behind.

Portland has 11 days off before its next contest at Seattle in the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup. The Timbers play at home again June 22 against Houston.

 

Portland celebrates in the sun

Late goal by Blanco beats Seattle, scores fourth-straight win
Staff report

The hottest day of the year turned into the hottest ticket of the year, and the Portland Timbers didn't disappoint Sunday.

With a stellar connection between Samuel Armenteros and Sebastian Blanco and simple chip from 10 yards away to provide the scoring in the 86th minute, the Timbers won their fourth-consecutive game of the MLS Season, with three of them at Providence Park in front of the 21,444 screaming masses.

Blanco's goal was his team-leading fifth of the season, and made a positive memory of what was largely a bland meeting of the franchises for the 100th time, historically, through the NASL, USL and now MLS. The bitter rivals managed just 15 shots combined in the match, and only three were on target - each goalkeeper made just one save.

Jeff Attinella recorded his third-consecutive shutout for Portland.

Portland moved into a tie for fourth in the Western Converence at 14 points after having started the season with just two through five games. The Timbers are also one of four teams in the league without a loss at home, although only one has played fewer home games - DC United, which has played at home just twice in advance of opening a new stadium in two months.

The win was the first step in the Cascadia Cup, as well, between the teams.

Portland next plays host to FC Los Angeles, which is second in the West with 20 points and recently opened its own stadium near the Los Angeles Coliseum.

 

 

Ducks keep Eugene buzzing

4CAST: NCAA women, Pac-12 baseball, softball, Hawks, soccer
Staff report

The Oregon women’s basketball team moved to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 for the second straight year with a 101-73 win over Minnesota Sunday at Matthew Knight Arena.

Oregon will play either Central Michigan or Ohio State, which play today, Saturday with the winner facing either Notre Dame or Texas A&M next Monday in Spokane, Wash.

“I will be shocked if they’re not playing in the Final Four,” Minnesota coach Marlene Stollings said after watching the Ducks put up 30 points in two different quarters Sunday. “They were rolling on all cylinders.”

Sunday’s second-round game matched two of the top-10 scoring offenses in the nation, and the teams combined for 52 points in the first quarter. From there, though, Oregon - leading 30-22 after the first quarter, outscored the Gophers 52-28 in the next two quarters to effectively decide the outcome.

Oregon blew the game open with a 10-0 run to close out the second quarter, capped by a fadeaway three-pointer at the buzzer by Sabrina Ionescu, while she was being fouled.

Ionescu led all scorers with 29 points, while sophomore Ruthy Hebard added 22 for the Ducks - playing in front of a vocal crowd of 7,576 fans.

Oregon made 11 of its 22 3-point attempts.

The Ducks had never been to the Sweet 16 until last season, when they reached the Elite Eight.

2. PAC-12 BASEBALL

Michael Gretler homered in the second inning to spark the top-ranked Oregon State baseball team to a sweep of California Sunday as the Beavers won the series finale, 6-4, in Berkely, Calif.
 
The win pushed Oregon State to 18-1 on the year, matching the 1951, 1962, 2013 and 2017 teams for the best record through 19 games. The victory also sends the Beavers back to Corvallis with a 3-0 conference record; OSU has won 13 consecutive Pac-12 games dating back to the 2016 season.]
 
The sweep marked the Beavers’ third in Berkeley since 2012 after getting swept at Cal in 2016. OSU starts a three-game series with Washington on Friday.
 
In other Pac-12 action, Oregon lost all three games of its series against Arizona State in Tempe, Ariz., to drop to 12-7. The Ducks return to Eugene for a three-game series with Cal starting Friday. Oregon is 8-2 at home this season.

3. PAC-12 SOFTBALL

Sixth-ranked Oregon rallied from a loss Friday to beat UCLA Saturday and Sunday and is 25-5 heading for a weekend off before a three-game series with rival Oregon State March 29-31 in Corvallis.

Oregon State recovered from a 12-0 loss Saturday to beat Cal 8-3 Sunday and earn a 2-1 series win in Corvallis. Oregon State won the first game of the series 10-5 Friday and is 19-10 heading into a three-game series at UCLA Friday.

4. WINTERHAWKS HEAD FOR PLAYOFFS

The 72-game regular season came to a close with a 5-4 loss to Spokane Sunday for the Portland Winterhawks, but the season begins anew Saturday. Portland, which finished the regular season at 44-22-1-5 for 94 points, plays the Chiefs in a seven-game series with the first two games in Portland Saturday and Sunday.

EXTENDED 4CAST

The Portland Thorns and Portland Timbers return to the pitch Saturday with league matches. The Thorns, who drew with Houston 0-0 Saturday at Merlo Field, open NWSL play at North Carolina Saturday at 12:30 p.m. Portland won its second NWSL title last season.

The Timbers, 0-2 in MLS action, play at Houston Saturday at 12:30 p.m. Portland has scored just once in its two games, and is looking for its first win under new coah Giovanni Savarese.

Ducks, Beavers await tournament pairings

4CAST: NCAA women, Oregon men, Blazers, Thorns
Staff report

The Oregon and Oregon State women's basketball programs will get their official NCAA Tournament placements tonight, giving their fans and end to more than a week of waiting.

The Ducks won the Pac-12 Tournament title last weekend for the first time, a day after Oregon State's regular season ended. The Ducks are likely to receive their highest tournament seed in the program's history.

Oregon, 30-4, enters the tournament ranked No. 6 nationally, and with a nine-game win streak. The Ducks were a 10 seed last year, but played into the Elite Eight before losing to Connecticut 90-52.

Oregon State, 23-7, is ranked 13th. The Beavers were a No. 2 seed last year, but got knocked out by Florida State in the Sweet 16.

The women's tournament begins on Thursday.

2. OREGON NIT

The Oregon men's basketball team missed out on the NCAA Tournament - Arizona, UCLA and Arizona State received spots - but did get into the NIT and will play host to Rider on Tuesday night at Matthew Knight Arena.

Oregon reached the Pac-12 Tournament semifinals and is 22-11 overall. Rider, 22-9, won the regular-season title in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference title, but missed out on the automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament by not winning the MAAC tournament. It's the first-ever meeting between the schools. Rider is located in Lawrenceville, N.J.

3. BLAZERS MIAMI

Portland, in third place in the Western Conference, will put its nine-game win streak up against Miami, the No. 7 team from the Eastern Conference.

The Blazers are 40-26 and two games ahead of fourth-place New Orleans, Minnesota and Oklahoma City.

Miami is 36-31 and has a two-game win streak.

4. PORTLAND THORNS PRESEASON

The Portland Thorns lost their first of three preseason games Sunday, 1-0, to the Chicago Red Stars at Merlo Field. The team plays again Wednesday and Saturday Merlo Field in preparation for the start of the season, March 24. Wednesday's game is against the U.S. National Under-23 squad.

ALSO

The Portland Winterhawks rebounded from Saturday's loss with a 2-0 victory over Everett at the Moda Center, and have three games remaining in the regular season. The Hawks play again Friday against Seattle at the Moda Center.

 

 

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.

 

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