brian costello

09 May 11:14 am

Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer

Timbers striker Bright Dike recently arrived with his new club L.A. Blues on loan earlier this week and spoke about his first training session there.

“The Timbers coaches told me I needed to get more minutes at a high level and that there were a few possible destinations,” Dike explained. “From what they said, it seemed like the Blues were the best fit, with coaches who can really help my game and who are determined to get the most out of every player. After one day of training, that’s exactly the impression I have. They know what they want to see on the field and what they expect out of us.”

It's clear that the strong forward is ready to contribute during his stay in L.A. Read the whole report on the USL PRO site here.

Got a story, tip, soccer tidbit to share? Send it in to thebackcut (at)

08 May 9:59 am

Soccer history isn't always dealing with obscure fith division teams from some pastoral English countryside. No. Rather there's a long American--and even Oregonian--slant to what we know as The Beautiful Game.

 Jan. 20, 1914, Lincolln High School Boys Soccer Team
Photo courtesy the Futbol Heritage Archive/Boxscore News World Sportswire

George Fosty, president and a founder of the Society of North American Historians and Researchers, has written a lovingly researched post online that charts the history of soccer in Oregon all the way back to the 19th century. The early guises of the Multnomah Amateur Athletic Club—now known simply as the Multnomah Athletic Club (MAC) and its quest to build a stadium that eventually becomes JELD-WEN Field, intra-Oregon collegiate rivalries, road trips to Seattle, a Cameron Cup, the inception of the womens game, hoodlums, hoodwinks, and eventual creation of the Portland Timbers are all mentioned in his piece, Knee-Knockers: Celebrating 120-Years Of Oregon Soccer. Fosty explains his love of Portland and sets up its founding in the Oregon Territory as the precursor to a long soccer history:

The city of Portland, the largest city in Oregon, was incorporated in 1851. At the time of incorporation Portland boasted a population of 821, of which 653 were men, 164 women, and 4 were identified as "free colored." By 1885, the population would stand at 17,500. Fifteen years later, the city would register 90,426. By 1910, it would boast 207,214. During these years, Portland would distinguish itself as one of the most forward thinking cities in North America. A visionary approach that often split over into the realm of sports, among which included the game of soccer.

While much of those early years are difficult to research and may be built around more conjecture than fact, it's an interesting read into the nascent stages of Oregon soccer. Read the whole thing here.

Hungry for more history? Check out Portland-based historian and occasional contributor Michael Orr’s new book that expands upon the creation of the NASL-era Timbers in his new book The 1975 Portland Timbers: The Birth of Soccer City USA. Well researched with interviews from many of the original Timbers such as current MLS-era soccer ambassadors John Bain and Mick Hoban, the book is a unique snapshot of a key era of Portland soccer history.

Still wanting more history? The excellent soccer blog Free Beer Movement blog took the recent Lionel Messi achievement of scoring 72 goals over the course of a first division season—including all cup tournaments—to delve into how that broke a record once held by an American soccer player, Archie Stark.

With players like Pele (66 for Santos in 1958) and Mueller in the rear-view mirror for global scoring tallies who could have Messi blown by to set yet another record?
An American, of course.
Yes. Someone from the United States of America.
Buried in a host of articles celebrating Messi's accomplishment (many omitting any mention of it at all) was the name Archie Stark.
Read up on this great piece of American soccer history here.

Study up for finals.

Got a story, tip, soccer tidbit to share? Send it in to thebackcut (at)


01 May 9:52 am


 Roy Hodgson at JELD-WEN Field, July 2012
Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer

After months of speculation that Harry Redknapp of Tottenham Hotspur was going to take on the national team job for England, the English FA announced today that former West Bromwich Albion, Liverpool, and Fulham manager Roy Hodgson will take over the post.

Hodgson is no stranger to Portland. Last summer he led West Brom to Oregon for an international friendly against the Timbers. In a thrilling back and forth match, West Brom pulled out a 3-2 win on a 91'+ wondergoal by Gabriel Tamas that Hodgson called, "once in a blue moon."

Now Hodgson finds himself at the reins of England and heading into the 2012 European Championships this summer. How do you think he'll do?

Got a story, tip, soccer tidbit to share? Send it in to

30 April 11:42 am

Timbers midfielder/2011 MLS All-Star Jack Jewsbury (left) vs. Manchester United and then Timbers defender now Alumni Ambassador Scot Thompson (right) (Photo: Getty Images & Craig Mitchelldyer)

Manchester United and Manchester City. Perhaps you've heard of them. 

The 2011 MLS All-Star opponent United vs. the 2010 Timbers summer exhibition friendly opponent City--otherwise known as gladiators for the top of the English Premier League table--face off today on ESPN at high noon PT. United only holds a three point lead over City with only two matches left to play following today's clash.

The Backcut asks: Who you got?

30 April 11:04 am

I don't know how many of you out there are fans of The Wire but if you aren't yet, then you best should be. It is among the finest television shows of all time. Set in Baltimore and ostensibly about the drug trade and the people who try to both profit from it and put a stop to it, the show expanded on issues of education, unions, politics, culture, youth, and everything in between. If you haven't watched it yet, stop reading this and go rent it post haste.

 Omar Little

Back? Okay. The depth of narrative arc led to some truly memorable characters. So memorable, soccer blog The Other 87 celebrates the tenth anniversary of The Wire's first season by asking, what would make the best fictional Starting XI out of such a cast? 

What I find amazing is that the infamous bandit Omar Little does not feature in either XI. The Other 87 argues that he "doesn't fit neatly into either team" and that sorta makes sense if you assume he'd constantly be on the lookout only for himself. But aren't some of the greatest soccer players of all time the same? Wouldn't Omar have been the consummate #10 pulling the strings across the pitch?

I have to believe B&B Enterprises is the kit sponsor for the Bad Guys. Maybe Stringer Bell's copy shop. For the Good Guys? It's got to be Kavanaugh's Irish Pub. How do you think these teams stack up? 

via The Other 87:

The Good Guys


GK – Lester Freamon – He could be painting dollhouse furniture and still pull out a brilliant save between the sticks. He also keeps a level head when the rest of the team loses discipline.
LB Ellis Carver – Known to bash a few skulls, but commands his troops well. Carver provides outlet passes to Bunny Colvin ahead of him, but also has the talent to switch wings with his partner, Herc Hauk.
LCB – Cedric Daniels – Tall, imposing, disciplined. What more could ask of a world class defender? Despite his age, Cedric shows tremendous upshot.
RCB – Rhonda Pearlman – Partners well with Daniels in the back. The two take turns cleaning up messes. When all else fails, she uses her charm to appeal to the ref.
RB – Herc Hauk – Along with Carver, Herc ensures nothing gets into the box. While intelligence isn’t always his forte, he muscles any hoodlums stupid enough to challenge his authority.
CDM – Bubbles – Tactically, Bubbles knows the opposition inside and out. With this insight, he shrewdly predicts every play and provides outlet passes to Kima ahead of him.
LCM – Bunny Colvin – Our warhorse. He’ll try anything to break the opposition, even if it means allowing them to play their game.
RCM – Tommy Carcetti – Carcetti has the energy and guile to go on the offensive, especially when he identifies a weakness in his marker.
CAM – Kima Greggs – She would take a bullet for her team, and that’s exactly why we want her providing support for the front line.
LS – Bunk Moreland – Our target man. While Bunk lacks in speed or athleticism, he more than makes up for in persistence and strength.
RS – Jimmy McNulty – Opposite Moreland, McNulty cracks open the defense with risky runs, often to the displeasure of the coaching staff. 

The Bad Guys


GK – Stringer Bell –Because of this attacking formation, we need an intelligent goalkeeper capable of reading the opposition and deflecting any attacks.
LB – Wallace – Runs up and down the wing, often unsure of his position. Uses D’Angelo for guidance.
LCB – Clay Davis – Senator Davis is more than willing to take the ball from Stringer and distribute it as he sees fit.
RCB – Proposition Joe – Prop Joe is by far the most cautious member of the squad. While his teammates are eager to attack, he waits patiently and watches for the counter.
RB – D’Angelo Barksdale – Like Wallace, D is often unsure of his position, but is intelligent enough to play capably in both halves of the field.
LCM – Chris Partlow – Always one step ahead of the opposition, Chris is the left side of our midfield triangle.
RCM – Snoop – Our bruiser. In spite of her size and age, Snoop isn’t afraid to put in a hard tackle if she’s asked to do so.
CM – Marlo – Marlo is ruthless in his pursuit of victory, but doesn’t come to life until the second half.
LAM – Slim Charles – Often at odds with Stringer’s instructions from the back, Charles acts as provider in the box.
RAM – Bodie – Distrustful of the midfield lineup, Bodie often creates his own goals, especially when Avon is out of position.
ST – Avon Barksdale – If Stringer is the calming voice for the squad, Avon is the banshee’s scream. However, as the head of the attack, you can’t blame his enthusiasm for forcing the issue. 

Hat tip to both soccer blogs The Other 87 and Free Beer Movement for the great tactical breakdown. Got a story, tip, soccer tidbit to share? Send it in to thebackcut (at)

30 April 10:04 am

The Backcut. 

In logging terms, it's the last of the cuts needed to fell a tree. As an experienced logger would tell you, it's a key element to make for a clean cut.

For us, it's the beginning of a new blog that sits at the intersection of Timbers, soccer, and culture. We'll talk about Timbers news, sure, but we'll also talk about great soccer books you can't do without, important soccer results from a local area match, random soccer tales from around the world, films, music, tidbits, and more. At least, that's the plan.

Join us as we go on this journey deep into the various nooks and crannies of this grand game we call football. Or soccer. Take your pick.