MLS's Armchair Analyst, Matthew Doyle, knows this 2013 MLS SuperDraft backwards and forwards. A veritable genius on tactical analysis, Doyle spent the whole of the past week at the MLS Combine looking and thinking about who should go where and why.
He did a recent winners and losers take on the recent draft and had this to say on the Timbers second round pick-up of defender Dylan Tucker-Gangnes:
"First of all, I . . . could argue that he’s the most MLS-ready of the center backs on offer, so just on a nuts-and-bolts level, it was the right pick. As important, though, is that Portland took a kid who is Seattle born-and-bred, and University of Washington star, one pick before the Sounders were up. Seattle fans flipped their collective bean in the live chat, on Twitter and elsewhere."
The adventures of the Portland Timbers on tour for Dribble Oregon 2013 continued yesterday with Danny Mwanga, Eric Alexander and myself venturing into the snow and ice of Klamath Falls. Our furthest trip on this year’s tour was made easy thanks to JELD-WEN. Our flight was amazing due to the inversion forcing the clouds into the valley and exposing all the mountains of the cascades to those above 5,000 feet. Mt. Hood, Jefferson, Broken Top, Three Finger Jack, the Three Sisters, Bachelor, Diamond and Crater Lake were all crystal clear in the sunshine, and entertained us on the trip south. This trip marked the third clinic the Timbers have put on in Klamath Falls. The fans there are great and continuously show their support by wearing Timbers green.
The boys started the day with two clinics teaching kids, ages 5-12, passing, dribbling and shooting skills. I'm not sure who wore out who, as both the coaches and kids seemed out of breath following each clinic. Questions from kids ranged from "Who's your favorite player?" to "Why do you like soccer?" All in all, it was a fun time for everyone with lots of laughs.
Our pub stop was back at the Creamery for the second year in a row. The Creamery is a large brew pub with a fire place, couches and great food. As much as I try to avoid gluten and dairy, I couldn't help but order their mac and cheese wedges. They are amazing and I can't stop talking about them (I may have a problem.) It was great to see familiar faces from years past and other stops on this year’s current tour. Andrew and Dalton came up from Shasta, CA for the Medford stop and then met us again at the Creamery. The meet and greet session brought tons of questions and answers that showcased the guys’ personalities. The room filled with laughter when Danny and Eric danced Danny's goal celebration dance, and then filled with applause when Danny explained that his mom was his hero. Both guys explained that they are very proud to be Portland Timbers and are looking forward to playing under Coach Porter. One more stop on this year’s trip. Looking forward to Astoria on Saturday. I hope to see you there!
New Thorns FC goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc is no wallflower. Personable, charismatic, and fearless in asking anyone for an interview, she is currently with the Canadian Women's National Team in China at the Yongchuan Cup.
Frustrated by her Canadian and now Thorns FC teammate Christine Sinclair coming in last amongst Asian voters in the recent Ballon d'Or voting, LeBlanc went to the streets of Yongchuan with her famous KK Cam to help spread the good word of the merits of Ms. Sinclair.
I have a feeling we'll be seeing some more of KK Cam in the Portland Thorns FC future.
Medford is a great town. Full of history and nature. We planted trees with Friends of Trees Saturday morning along Bear Creek, a tributary of the mighty Rogue River. The trees that we planted will shade the creek keeping it cool for salmon as they spawn. We even planted a few wild roses hoping they bring luck to our new team.
Our clinic was busy with Timbers fans and future stars. I was worn out from kicking and chasing soccer balls with the kids. My former rodeo traveling partner surprised me with his son at the camp. It was great to catch up with him and see his son running around with the coaches.
Sometime during the autograph session I noticed Jake's accent had turned from Kiwi to kind of Russell Brandish English. I confronted him about it in Eugene the next night and he confirmed that it was true though he did not know why. I am sure there are pictures floating around of David sticking his tongue out at a little girl. I can attest that he did not start this battle nor did he win. Best set of questions at the clinic, "Why is soccer so hard?" asked by a young male participant followed by, "Why is soccer so easy?" asked by the girl who beat David.
Finally time to relax at 4 Daughters Irish Pub. We met with fans from as far away as Shasta City, CA.
I enjoyed the bus ride to Eugene though I'm not sure the rest of the group did as I sang along to all the songs from Rock of Ages. Thankfully Jake helped me with some of the duets.
Eugene's tree planting was a completely opposite experience from the day before. We planted pine trees in a grass lot formerly used as a gravel parking lot. It was quite the struggle to get the holes dug but today there are nine new trees making the lot look more like a park.
Kick City is a great indoor facility with two fields a soccer store and a pub complete with TVs that happened to be showing the NFL Playoffs. We were entertained the entire time. Eugene taught me one thing, I am not and will never be a goalie. I took shots to my chest, legs and head (thankfully protected by a helmet) that I never saw coming and I have finally admitted to myself that I am indeed "sluggish." If I recall correctly David took a good shot as he was playing out of position. Thankfully there was time to relax following the sessions as we signed autographs and took pictures with all the kids.
After the clinic it was off to The Old Pad. Another great pub full of Timbers fans. My cousin Kindy came down to surprise me! It was great to see her and all the Timbers Army Echo Squadron. There we learned that both Jake and David had great first cars, are looking forward to playing under Coach Porter and were happy to bring the Cascadia Cup to Portland where it belongs.
Dribble Oregon, presented by JELD-WEN Windows & Doors, continued it's tour throughout the state this past weekend with stops in Medford and Eugene. Trees were planted with the help of Friends of Trees, Jake Gleeson and David Horst took part in free soccer clinics with local youth, Timber Joey welcomed one and all, and supporters were able to meet-and-greet with players and staff at local pubs.
Take a look back at the road trip, learn a bit about the players, and then visit the Timbers Facebook page for more photos. Dribble Oregon rolls on this Wednesday to Klamath Falls. Participate in the fun on Twitter with hashtag #DribbleOregon.
On the way to Medford for my first stop of dribble Oregon. Looking forward to the weekend. Hope to see there#DribbleOregon
— Jacob gleeson (@Jgleeson20) January 12, 2013
— Joey Webber (@TimberJoey) January 12, 2013
— Portland Timbers (@TimbersFC) January 13, 2013
— joelcarrick (@joelcarrick) January 13, 2013
— Friends of Trees (@FriendsofTrees) January 14, 2013
— Portland Timbers (@TimbersFC) January 14, 2013
— Joey Webber (@TimberJoey) January 14, 2013
— Beth Atkerson (@NWsoccerMom) January 14, 2013
Had a great time this weekend meeting timbers fans in Medford and Eugene. Great people and great fans. Thank youall!. #DribbleOregon
— Jacob gleeson (@Jgleeson20) January 14, 2013
— Lindsay Weber (@LindsayAdaire) January 14, 2013
— TA Echo Squadron (@TAEchoSquad) January 14, 2013
After today's NWSL allocation of national team players, much of the early chatter has been about the incredible forward pairing of Alex Morgan and Christine Sinclair. And with good reason. Combined, the pair scored 51 goals over 53 matches for the United States and Canada in 2012.
But perhaps the steal of the day was in acquiring midfielder Tobin Heath. Long considered one of the best up-and-coming midfielders on the USWNT, Heath won three NCAA national championships with the University of North Carolina. Her final one, in 2009, had current Thorns FC head coach Cindy Parlow Cone as an assistant on the team.
But it is also known in soccer circles that Heath is a master of the trick shot and ball skills. A while back, while on the road with the USWNT, Heath went on a simple walkabout. But this is hardly the simple walkabout you and I might make. WATCH:
Tip of the hat to soccer writer Charles Boehm.
If ever there was a sense that a rising tide lifts all boats in the new NWSL, it's this:
— Alyse LaHue (@alahue) January 3, 2013
Alyse LaHue just happens to be the general manager of fellow NWSL club Chicago Red Stars.
And the numbers are certainly growing, Timbers/Thorns FC owner and president Merritt Paulson had this Twitter update earlier today:
Your unofficial @thornsfc Season Tix deposit tracker: 3,500+. that's w/o players & pricing announced (hopefully both will elicit increase..)
— Merritt Paulson (@MerrittPaulson) January 3, 2013
In it together, indeed.
Want to make your own Thorns FC season ticket deposit? Details right here.
Followers of City Hall may remember that a friendly Twitter wager was placed last season between the three Cascadia Cup mayors of Portland's Sam Adams, Seattle's Mike McGinn, and Vancouver's Gregor Robertson. The stakes were simple: the mayors of the two losing MLS teams had to wear the Cascadia Cup victor's team jersey.
While the jury is still out on Vancouver, Seattle's Mayor McGinn fulfilled his end of the bargin over the holiday break:
Here's hoping that Cascadia Cup stays right here in the Rose City in 2013.
While Brent Richards, Darlington Nagbe and more were busy during the offseason, centerback Hanyer Mosquera has been keeping busy as well. Spending his offseason in his hometown of Istima, Colombia, Mosquera and his family helped organize a local soccer tournament for high school aged kids and outfitted two teams: Amigos de Hanyer Los Verdes and Amigos de Hanyer Los Rojos.
Naturally, the kits should have a familiar look to Timbers fans.
Done in conjunction with the local mayor, Mosquera says that he helps put together the tournament--now in it's fourth year--so kids can see that "it's possible to be a professional player."
"We hope that every year, we make it a little bit better," Mosquera added. "It's a short tournament that people enjoy but also brings me a lot of happiness. We're just helping bring my hometown a game that they love."
After a 2012 season that saw Bright Dike score 16 goals across all competitions--5 in the regular season, 5 in the MLS Reserve League, and 6 in the USL Pro while on loan to the LA Blues--the Timbers forward added one more tally to his growing goalscoring exploits as he scored the equalizer for Nigeria in a friendly against Catalonia on Wednesday.
Dike started the match in Barcelona as Nigeria faced the unique autonomous region of northeastern Spain known as Catalonia. Though not recognized by FIFA or UEFA, Catalonia has fielded a national team since the early 20th century often with numerous stars from FC Barcelona in their starting XI. Wednesday's match was no different as the Johan Cruyff-coached side featured Barca legends Carles Puyol, Xavi, and Gerard Pique.
For Dike, it didn't matter. After battling all game--including a nasty elbow to Puyol in the first half that left the centerback temporarily bloodied--Dike broke through in the 55th minute with a nifty cutback and lashed a shot with his left foot into the upper left corner of the net. Notice the trademark cartwheel backflip celebration.
Congratulations to Dike. Here's to getting 2013 started off on the (left) foot and to making your case for inclusion in Nigeria's squad for this January's Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa.