Colorado welcomes Portland to MLS with 3-1 bullying

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.”

Scoring Summary
COL: Larentowicz (Cummings), 8
COL: Cummings, 29
COL: Smith (Casey), 30
POR: Cooper, 80

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



Timbers prepare for rivalry weekend

Portland, Seattle, Vancouver preview the Cascadia Cup
Staff Report

The Portland Timbers players, management and even fans get a chance to play and mingle with their MLS Northwest rivals this weekend in the first Cascadia Summit.

Portland plays Seattle Friday and Vancouver Saturday at the Starfire Soccer Complex in Tukwila, Wash.

The three teams will award the Cascadia Cup - a throwback to the North American Soccer League days - to the top performer from games the three play against one another during the MLS regular season.

A key to the weekend series will be off the field as well with supporters of all three teams meeting to establish ground rules for proper fan involvement.


Timbers nab Hermann Trophy winner in SuperDraft

Portland goes for offense with No. 2 pick
Staff Report

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.”

Timbers get moving on up

Pore, Dike, Cronin link 2010 to 2011
Mike Donovan, oregonsports.com

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.

Falling in Love with Soccer City, USA

There's soccer and then there's the Timbers
Mike Donovan, oregonsports.com

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.


Timbers head back to Portland for playoffs

Merlo Field set for home match, Oct. 10
By Cliff Pfenning, oregonsports.com

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.

Dike's strikes power Portland past Baltimore 3-0

Pore tallies 14th goal before large home crowd
By Cliff Pfenning, oregonsports.com

Bright Dike showed off a good amount of his potential Sunday with a pair of goals as the Portland Timbers dominated visiting Crystal Palace Baltimore, 3-0, in a USSF match played before a raucous crowd of 15,418.

Dike scored in each half to go with a score from Ryan Pore as the Timbers won for the third time in four matches.

Dike has scored five goals in the past five games and Pore tallied his league-leading 14th goal.

“Those first 25 minutes, I think that’s the best football I’ve seen in the two years I’ve been here,” coach Gavin Wilkinson said afterward.

Portland improved to 10-7-8, 38 points, and remained in fourth place overall in the USSF standings.

The Timbers play host to Puerto Rico Thursday in the final home game of the season at PGE Park, which will begin the process of construction to become a football-specific stadium.

Colorful day ends in draw for Timbers

Portland ties Minnesota after Spencer named future coach
By Cliff Pfenning, oregonsports.com

The Timbers Army chanted “give us a wave” midway through the second half of Portland’s game with Minnesota Wednesday, but not for a player on the field. The Army directed the chant toward John Spencer, the team’s future coach who had been introduced earlier in the day to local media.

Spencer hit PGE Park in time for a vibrantly colorful game that featured a penalty kick and red card as the Timbers and Stars played to a 2-all tie before 15,418 vocal fans and a regional television audience.

Richards leads Timbers to momentus win

Portland's U23s finish season unbeaten, untied
Staff Report

Powered by two goals from Brent Richards, the Portland Timbers U-23s won the 2010 Premier Development League Championship, defeating the Thunder Bay Chill 4-1 on Saturday at PGE Park.

Timbers U23 begin end of historic run

Portland aims for undefeated season with two more wins
Staff Report

PORTLAND – The Portland Timbers U-23s continue their undefeated season Friday and begin the final push for the 2010 Premier Development League Championship against Reading United AC in the league’s semifinals at PGE Park.

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