Former MLS'er, US international, and KICKTV host Jimmy Conrad who did such great work at Euro 2012 and the recent Mexico-USA friendly at Azteca, goes on location to examine the Portland-Seattle rivalry, the Kicking + Screening Film Festival and more. First up, he goes one on one with Timbers owner and president Merritt Paulson.
More to come as KICKTV goes through the huge Cascadia Cup clash.
Can't wait for the Portland-Seattle Cascadia Cup showdown on NBC at 12:30 pm PT tomorrow?
Then get a look at soon-to-be Timbers head coach Caleb Porter as he leads his No. 9 Akron Zips against the undefeated No. 10 University of St. John's on FOX Soccer Channel at 4pm PT on Friday evening. The Zips are hosting the University of Akron Tournament this weekend at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field with the Red Storm in attendance along with No. 11 South Florida and Butler also participating.
All matches for all teams are also being streamed online free at GoZips.com.
MLS released today, perhaps for the first time ever, the top 25 selling jerseys across the league. The Timbers are one of five teams with multiple players in the top 25: Darlington Nagbe and Kris Boyd.
The list below, which includes sales from March 10-Sept. 10, reflects the 25 top-selling adidas MLS player jerseys across the league on MLSgear.com, MLSgearCanada.ca and MLS club websites.
1. David Beckham - LA Galaxy
2. Thierry Henry - New York Red Bulls
3. Landon Donovan - LA Galaxy
4. Fredy Montero - Seattle Sounders FC
5. Dwayne De Rosario - D.C. United
6. Chris Wondolowski - San Jose Earthquakes
7. Tim Cahill - New York Red Bulls
8. Robbie Keane - LA Galaxy
9. Mauro Rosales - Seattle Sounders FC
10. Brian Ching - Houston Dynamo
11. Darlington Nagbe - Portland Timbers
12. Chris Pontius - D.C. United
13. Osvaldo Alonso - Seattle Sounders FC
14. Young-Pyo Lee - Vancouver Whitecaps FC
15. Kris Boyd - Portland Timbers
16. Barry Robson - Vancouver Whitecaps FC
17. Eddie Gaven - Columbus Crew
18. Brad Davis - Houston Dynamo
19. Roger Torres - Philadelphia Union
20. Freddy Adu - Philadelphia Union
21. Kei Kamara - Sporting Kansas City
22. Kyle Beckerman - Real Salt Lake
23. Mike Magee - LA Galaxy
24. Saer Sene - New England Revolution
25. Arne Friedrich - Chicago Fire
Want to get yours? Head over to the adidas Timbers Team Store and order online. Also, don't forget to vote for Nagbe to be on the custom cover of EA Sports' FIFA 13.
Caleb Porter and the Akron Zips came out of the weekend with a split in two matches at the Mike Berticelli Mermorial Tournament in South Bend, Ind.
On Friday, the Zips beat No. 10 Indiana behind midfielder Eric Stevenson's 19th minute goal. Dillon Serna had beat his man on the left flank and crossed into Stevenson who fired just inside the right post. Senior 'keeper David Meyes picked up his third win and second shutout in the match.
Two days later, however, Akron suffered their first loss of 2012 as No. 17 host Notre Dame (5-0-0) defeated the shorthanded Zips 3-1. UA got off to a strong start as Alfred Koroma crossed in a fine ball that Scott Caldwell (right) corraled and fired from the top of the box to give the Zips an early 1-0 lead in the 4th minute. However, Aohdan Quinn received a straight red in the 30th minute, the Zips played the rest of the match a man down and the Fighting Irish were able to counter with three unanswered goals.
With Friday's 1-0 victory over No. 10 Indiana, UA finished second in the tournament. Chad Barson, Caldwell and Serna were named to the All-Tournament Team.
Porter and the Zips return to FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field next weekend to play host to The University of Akron Tournament. UA will host St. John's Friday night at 4 p.m. PT on FOX Soccer Channel and South Florida Sunday at 4:30 p.m. PT.
ADDEDUM: MLSsoccer.com's Daniel Robertson says that Akron "had probably the toughest weekend of anyone in the country," but still rates them highly at #5 in their College Power rankings. He also points out that Friday's match on FOX Soccer Channel against St. John's is definitely one to watch as "practically every player you’ll see on Akron has a possible MLS future, either through the draft or via Homegrown signings."
With two goals in his last four games, Bright Dike has been on a bit of a run as of late.
After being one of the first Timbers players ever signed in the MLS era, Dike ruptured his Achilles' tendon in the first MLS preseason game and missed much of the 2011 season. After a hard dedicated recovery, he came back to the team and was loaned to USL PRO side L.A. Blues earlier this season.
In ten games, Dike got his groove back and pocketed six goals. So while he wasn't there for the entire season, USL PRO was impressed enough to name him to the 2012 All-League Second Team.
In other MLS-related news in USL New York Red Bulls forward Corey Hertzog was a finalist for MVP after spending the season on loan with the Wilmington Hammerheads. The small but increasing number of MLS teams loaning players to the USL is a growing phenomenon as more and more teams look to further develop their players with more games and minutes. Timbers defender and 2012 MLS SuperDraft first round pick Andrew Jean-Baptiste was also loaned to the Blues in 2012 for six matches.
WATCH: Dike finishes off Zizzo cross against Rapids
The Timbers Academy teams--fresh from announcing their inaugural rosters--take to the field for the first time this weekend against the academy squads of Chivas USA and LA Galaxy.
“We know that thanks to U.S. Soccer we got an easy weekend to start off,” Timbers Academy Director Mike Smith jokingly told TopDrawerSoccer.com. “It is the highest level of competition [playing Chivas USA and Galaxy]. After four weeks of preseason, we are excited to see where the boys are. It will be a good learning lesson for us.”
The article also talks about Timbers U-16 winger Rubio Rubin who was a member of the adidas Timbers Alliance club Westside Timbers and is training with the US U17 Residency program in Florida.
Finally, central Oregon's Bend Bulletin has a good article on Timbers U-16 player Logan Riemhofer who is bypassing his high school team in Bend for the opportunity to be a part of the Timbers Academy. Though a difficult decision, his former coach at Mountain View High School, Chris Rogers, gives his full support:
“As bad as you want him to stay and play for you, (the academy) is so much more important a place to go for his development. I told him if I had that chance (in high school) I would have jumped at the opportunity," he added.
“This is the absolutely best thing for American soccer," Rogers says. “We’re finally doing what the rest of the world has done for the past 50 years."
“I want him to play for that team (the Timbers’ MLS club)," Rogers says. “I want to watch him play professionally and know I did everything I could to help him along the way."
Everyone I know who loves soccer loves EA Sports' FIFA series. You can play it on Playstation or Xbox, your iPhone or iPad, connect with friends, create a team, and manage it to untold glories.
Check out the latest ad EA just dropped touting FIFA 13's pending September 27 release:
MLSsoccer.com has teamed up with EA Sports to create a custom cover for FIFA 13. The number one player from MLSsoccer.com's 24 Under 24 will automatically be on the list, but there's three slots still available and our very own Darlington Nagbe is among the nominees in a special poll.
Wondering what 2012 Timbers U-23 alum, Troutdale native, and current University of Portland Pilots midfielder Steven Evans has been up to now that school is back in session?
Just a little bit of this:
Evans is one of four U-23s players on the University of Portland squad joining Justin Baarts, Ricardo Carillo, and Marc Tonkel on a team predicted to finish 3rd in the West Coast Conference. Evans was also selected to the Preseason All-WCC team alongside U-23s teammates Erik Hurtado (Santa Clara Univ.) and Clark Phillips (Gonzaga).
The Pilots are currently 2-1-1 on the 2012 campaign.
Lies, damn lies, and statistics: How adidas' miCoach could change MLS (plus a cameo from Jean-Baptiste)
The Backcut has talked about the growing importance of statistics in soccer before. Manchester City is busy crowd sourcing ideas by releasing reams of stats from last year's campaign while MLS has already made much of the same information available through their excellent Matchcenter Chalkboard.
But now none other than the immenent tech geek bible Wired takes a look at the new adidas tech wizardry behind their new miCoach system and its potential impact on the league through their excellent Playbook blog.
Starting off at the 2012 MLS Combine in Florida, the article talks about how a number of draft eligible players taking part in drills and scrimmages--Portland's eventually drafted Andrew Jean-Baptiste among them--were outfitted with prototype miCoach trackers that fed information about speed, location, heart rate and more.
It’s far flashier than such antiquities as a timed 40, but not much different in that the athletic attributes it measures have little to do with sport-specific skills like, say, passing the ball.
Still, proper dribbling technique is more easily taught than absurd acceleration through a defensive alignment, which is why University of Connecticut defender Andrew Jean-Baptiste started turning so many heads.
Jean-Baptiste was among those participating in the miCoach trial ahead of a league-wide rollout next season. As four Adidas reps roamed the sideline holding iPads displaying real-time readings from the field, coaches and team officials filtered by with raised eyebrows and the occasional question. Everything was proceeding as expected until Jean-Baptiste took off on a sprint across the pitch and his measurements exploded.
“Ten to 12 teams’ staff people crowded around me at once,” said Jan Mueller, a manager for the miCoach line. “They were watching intently, and then began asking a lot of questions.”
Given the long established importance of statistics in sports such as football, baseball and basketball, MLS is looking to push the envelope as to what kind of stats become more important for soccer. And not just for coaches and players, but for fans as well. The aforementioned Chalkboard feature is already readily available for fans and writers alike to breakdown certain elements of a game with heat maps, pass completion rates, shot locations and more.
miCoach adds another layer into the player performance aspect by breaking down individual elements to a very specific level. And while much of that in-game analysis of miCoach may not be something that fans will have immediate access to, MLS Digital general manager Chris Schlosser says in the article, “We’re working on what we feel like is a game-changer in the digital match experience — a whole new way for consumers to experience the game."
And even coaches who are intrigued with the possibilities of what miCoach could bring to the table such as Philadelphia Union head coach John Hackworth, there's still a belief that not everything seen on a computer screen tells you everything you need to know about a player.
“We’ve always had lies, damned lies and statistics,” said Timbers assistant coach Amos Magee. “For example, just because a guy is covering a lot of ground, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s smart running or that he’s in the right place at the right time. That’s a statistic that needs to come with experience. So some of these measurements are going to be useful, but some aren’t. We’ll just have to see which ones fill a void.”
In that capacity, miCoach readings will fit right in with the rest of soccer’s statistics. There’s another school of thought, however, that presents an even warier eye.
“Soccer is so much art, and art is impossible to measure, like music or dance or paintings,” said Hackworth. “The beauty of our sport is that there are so many creative, imaginative and skillful moments, and you’ll never be able to truly quantify that.”
It's a fascinating read about some great tools MLS is leading the way with. Read the whole piece here.
How do you see the focus on statistics changing the game? Let us know in the comments below or send us a note at thebackcut(at)portlandtimbers.com