brian costello

25 September 4:00 pm

Have you played your first match of FIFA 13 today? Sal Zizzo has. Andrew Jean-Baptiste has.
 

Heck, even @SnoopLion has.

For soccer fans and video games and all the fans in between, today is a particularly exciting day as it marks the release of EA Sports' FIFA 13. You can join in the fun with a special custom Portland Timbers Darlington Nagbe cover to insert on your copy. 

Be on the lookout too for a special Nagbe and Diego Chara FIFA 13 promo video coming up in the near future as well.

What are you waiting for? Get playing.

Download instructions:

-Visit this special Flickr album: http://www.flickr.com/photos/easportsfifa/8023605019/in/set-72157631621283005
-Then right click on image, select "Medium 640"
-Then click "Download the Medium 640 size of this photo" above the image
-That size will fit inside your copy of FIFA 13 though there are other larger versions available for download as well.

FIFA 2013 released Tuesday morning and is now available in stores and online.

 

 

 

24 September 1:57 pm

Bright Dike's second half 61st minute header against Real Salt Lake may not have been enough for the win Saturday night but it was a tremendous display of skill. Check out MLSsoccer.com's special goal GoPro camera capturing the moment.

Dike's got hops.

If you want to see just how close we came to scoring on two other shots only to be stopped by crack RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando, you can see his saves here (Warning: RSL's goals included in this collection too).

24 September 9:52 am

Photo: GoZips.com

When things are clicking, things are clicking.

Caleb Porter and the Akron Zips began the defense of their Mid-America Conference title on Friday night with a 2-0 win over Bowling Green--their third shutout in a row. Senior David Maves, the reigning MAC Player of the Week, continued in his quest to unseat Evan Bush as the all-time Akron leader in shutouts making six saves. Freshman Alfred Koroma (right) and senior Scott Caldwell both tallied goals for Akron while the team peppered Bowling Green with 30 shots--a 14-3 advantage in the first half alone. Caldwell leads the Zips with five goals in eight games in 2012.

It was Porter’s 39th straight league match without a loss going back to 2007—good for third on the NCAA's list for the longest conference unbeaten streak. UA improved to 82-1-3 when scoring two or more goals and 100-3-4 when scoring first under Coach Porter.

After their two wins, MLS on Campus rankings has the Zips holding steady at No. 4 with shoutouts for Colorado Rapids Academy freshman attacking midfielder Dillon Serna and predict the New England Revolution will move to sign Caldwell as a Homegrown player at season's end.

The Zips will continue MAC play next weekend when they host Buffalo Saturday night at 4:30pm PT, at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field.

Elsewhere in the college ranks, former Timbers U-23s midfielder Steven Evans dropped a first-half hat trick for the University of Portland on Seattle University in the Husky Fever Classic in Washington only to fall 4-3 in the match. The Pilots lost to No. 21 Brown on Sunday 2-0 and are currently 2-4-1 on the year. Also at the same tournament in Seattle, Timbers U-23s goalkeeper Spencer Richey picked up a shutout in University of Washington's 2-0 win over Seattle University on Sunday.


Photo: Oregon State

Heading south to Oregon State University and things are definitely clicking for Timbers U-23s forward Emery Welshman (right). The senior was named TopDrawerSoccer.com’s Player of the Week and was included in the College Soccer News National Team of the Week for his offensive explosion last week. The striker had a hat trick in a 6-1 win over Univ. of Wisconsin-Green Bay on Friday and then a double overtime golden goal against UC-Irvine in Sunday’s 1-0 thriller both as part of the Oregon State Hensor/Zaher Nike Classic tournament.

Fellow Timbers U-23s Roberto Farfan and Chris Harms joined Welshman on the all-tournament team. Apparently, teammate Farfan helped teach Welshman how to cook (watch video below).

You can watch this Beavers trio on the Pac-12 Networks next Sunday at 4pm PT as they take on Spencer Richey and the Univ. of Washington Huskies.

24 September 9:16 am

This one is for all the marbles.

The Portland Timbers head north to take on the Seattle Sounders on Oct. 7 at 6pm PT. Currently sitting atop the three-team standings for the Cascadia Cup between the Timbers, Vancouver Whitecaps, and Sounders, the Timbers could return home with the coveted cup if they draw or win at CenturyLink Field.

Unable to make it north for #SeattleAway? Do not fret, we'll be hosting a big bash at one of our esteemed Timbers Pub Partners but we want your help in deciding where. Vote on the poll at right to have your say about who should host and where you'll want to be when you watch this historic match.

The poll ends September 26 at 5pm PT.

20 September 9:27 pm

In his latest Throw-in column for MLSsoccer.com, Jonah Freedman opines on how a precedent can set up a team's expectations. Whether it's the Cascadia Cup, Brimstone Cup, Trillium Cup, MLS Cup, U.S. Open Cup or more, Freedman posits that no matter the silverware, these trophies matter. They can help define, or at the very least, begin to define the direction a team aims to take. Given how close the Timbers are to winning this year's Cascadia Cup in what has been a difficult season, Freedman asks,

So what are fans supposed to make of these trophies? For Portland, it’s a sign of progress, a symbol of success upon which they can hang their hats in their second MLS season. It is perhaps a springboard to future glory, when a young team with a young coach can do great things as they evolve.

Read more on how varying teams aim for glory and how those first steps help set the path.

18 September 2:00 pm

Photo: L.M. Parr

Noah Davis, contributor to NBC Sports' ProSoccerTalk.com as well as MLSsoccer.com, was in town recently for the Timbers-Sounder Cascadia match. But he also took note of the massive crowds generated for the MLS Reserve League games earlier this summer that drew on average this season 8,200. The Aug. 26 match against the San Jose Reserves set a new Reserve League record of 14,121--more than a regular season matches at New England and Chivas.

In his latest piece on Grantland, Davis writes about how with Reserve League tickets easier to come by and being affordable, the matches present opportunity to see rising stars play which the Rose City has quickly embraced: 

In Portland, attending a reserve league game means seeing 19-year-old potential American star Charles Renken and the brilliant Colombian 18-year-old Sebastian Rincón. Hometown favorite, Brent Richards, a 22-year-old forward who starred for the University of Washington and the Timbers U-23 squad before signing as senior side's first homegrown player in January, is also a fixture. "We have a knowledgeable fan base and they know the quality that can come up through the reserves. I mean, Brent Richards is already a hero, and he's played what, a whole 45 minutes this year?" Fernando Machicado, who chairs the Game Day Ops and the Merchandise Committee for the Timbers Army, says. (Actually, it's closer to 200 minutes, but point taken.)

Moreover it's something MLS has taken notice of as well:

"I think clearly what's going on in Portland shows what the reserve league's potential is," MLS President Mark Abbott says. For most teams, it will take a long time to reach that potential, if they ever do, but, Abbott says it's undeniable that there's something special going on in Timbers Nation: "They have had some decent draws up in Seattle and occasionally in some other places, but nothing like we're seeing here in Portland."

Read the whole post and learn more about why the Reserve League matters.

Reserve League Highlights: Timbers set attendance record against San Jose Reserves

18 September 8:58 am

Photo: Oregonlive.com

Former Timbers U-23s midfielder Steven Evans continues to impress at the University of Portland. He scored an incredible golazo already featured on The Backcut and is one of the Pilots featured in their new athletic department ad campaign.

Most recently, however, the Oregonian did a feature on Evans saying he "is close to becoming one of the program's all-time greats." Given UP's track record at producing some excellent players over the years--Heath Pearce, Steve Cherundolo, Kasey Keller to name but a few--that is high praise.

A veteran of a national championship with Portland youth club Eastside United--now adidas Timbers Alliance club Eastside Timbers--as well as the 2012 Timbers U-23s PDL championship, Evans isn't letting all his recent Pilot success go to his head.

"It's nice to see your hard work is paying off, but I'd rather the team have a good season," Evans said.

Read the whole profile here.

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Also of note is MLSsoccer.com's latest MLS on Campus power rankings which has Caleb Porter and his University of Akron team moving up a spot to #4 overall.

17 September 4:31 pm

Photo: GoZips.com

Caleb Porter led his Akron Zips into their first home matches this past weekend since being named head coach of the Portland Timbers. Taking on some nationally ranked programs and playing in front of a national TV audience on Friday night on FOX Soccer, the Zips wrapped up the weekend winning The University of Akron Tournament and placing six players on the all-tournament list.

On Friday, the Zips drew 0-0 with No. 10 St. John’s with senior goalkeeper David Meves picking up the shutout. Meves led the team again on Sunday with another clean sheet as Akron blew past No. 11 South Florida 5-0. Senior midfielder Scott Caldwell had two goals in the match and was named the tournament’s Offensive MVP while Meves garnered Defensive MVP honors. With the back-to-back shutouts for Meves, he now sits six shy of the all-time school record held by Evan Bush—currently a goalkeeper for the Montreal Impact. Zips Eric Stevenson, Dillon Serna, Chad Barson, and Aodhan Quinn joined Meves and Caldwell on the All-Tournament Team.

Also of note was Akron Beacon Jounal writer Marla Ridenour writing about how the AK-ROWDIES—Akron's student fan section (right)—reacted to Porter’s decision to join the Timbers. Porter has spent years helping grow the student supporters section. In his first seasons at Akron, Porter would buy students pizza at halftime out of his own pocket if there were more than 100 of them in the stands. He went to Rowdies meetings, helped with bus trips to away matches, and worked to get them to the 2009 national championship game. In short, he helped build and expand a supporters culture that is among the best in college soccer.

Some highlights from the article:

--Speaking before the game, past and present Rowdies seemed happy that Porter is following his dream to the MLS.

“He’s too great a talent to spend the rest of his time in the NCAA,’’ said Cody Perdew, a UA junior from East High School. “There’s no reason for him to spend 10 years at Akron. He belongs somewhere better.

--Perdew wasn’t the only one who thought seven seasons at UA were enough for Porter

“You can hardly criticize a man for taking the next step toward greatness,” said Ryan McClellan, a 2010 UA graduate from Akron.

--“I love Caleb Porter and I wish him the best,” said Nate Hess, a UA senior from Ashland who was wearing what looked like a Speedo and a blanket.

With blanket-and-Speedo-wearing ROWDIES, the Timbers Army should be familiar environment for Porter.

On Friday night, as FOX Soccer cameras broadcast the game, many AK-ROWDIES wore green as a show of support for Porter’s Portland choice. Next season, it should come as little surprise if there’s some extra green in the stands when the Timbers head to Ohio.

Christina Marion, a 2011 UA graduate from Warren Howland, said the announcement was “a big surprise.”

“I don’t think everyone expected it this soon,” Marion said. “But he’s with his former players, he’s in a better place. I’ll still cheer for him and try to visit the Columbus Crew when [the Timbers] are in town.”

Akron will next open up Mid-American Conference play next weekend at Bowling Green. The Zips and Falcons will kick off at 4pm PT, next Saturday.

17 September 2:25 pm

Photo: SoundersFC.com

Darlington Nagbe has had a very busy couple of weeks. His former Univ. of Akron head coach, Caleb Porter, was named head coach of the Timbers. He had a camera crew follow him around for MLS 36 for NBCSports. He helped out with a special project with MLS Digital and EA Sports that will air soon. His jersey is one of the top selling kits in MLS. And he came in at #15 on the MLS 24 Under 24 list.

But Saturday presented a rare opportunity to reunited with an old friend in Seattle Sounders midfilder Steve Zakuani. Both teammates under Porter while at the Univ. of Akron, the two had yet to actually take the field with each other due to Zakuani's leg injury that had kept him on the shelf for almost a year. 

In a great article on SoundersFC.com, Zakuani spoke about playing against a friend with whom he shares a long history:

“It was great, you know.  Last year, I didn’t get to play against him, so this year it was just good seeing him out there, and getting the chance to go against him,” Nagbe said.  “It was fun.  We both had fun.”

Like Zakuani in 2010, Nagbe is having success in his second MLS season.  Zakuani was tied for the team-lead with ten goals in 2010, while Nagbe has six goals for the Timbers with still six games left on the schedule.

The success comes as no surprise to Zakuani, who has been carrying the Nagbe flag for years.

“I’ve known Darlington for a very, very long time and always said he’s a great player.  He’s maturing more and more,” Zakuani said.  “I still think he has a long way to go, because I think he has so much quality.  I was happy to, for the first time, play against him at this level.  I wish him to continue to become a good player.”

Zakuani goes on to talk about his friendship--he'll be in Nagbe's wedding in the offseason--and says that he'd like to share the pitch with him some day again on the same side: 

“He’s someone I like to always look out for and I wish him to keep playing the way he’s playing right now,” Zakuani said.  “I wish maybe one day in the future we can play again together.  But at this point he is with Portland and I’m with Seattle.

The Akron roots run deep for many players across MLS. Nagbe was reunited with with another former Zip and close friend, Teal Bunbury, earlier this season both for an adidas commercial and on the field. Moreover, wunderkind Vancouver Whitecaps rookie Darren Mattocks, yet another former Akron teammate of Nagbe's, tweeted today about his thoughts on Nagbe's inclusion in the 24 Under 24 list.

17 September 12:43 pm

You may have noticed Jimmy Conrad was in Portland recently with KICKTV. He spoke with Merritt Paulson. He received chainsaw lessons with Timber Joey. 

However.

Perhaps the biggest moment of all was Conrad actually attending the Cascadia Cup showdown between the Timbers and Seattle Sounders at JELD-WEN Field on Saturday. There were bagpipes, there was facepaint, there was yelling and as part of his indoctrination to the experience, Conrad became a full fledged member of the Timbers Army, No Pity scarf and all.