Grant Wahl knows this as well as anybody, which is why he came to town to see the Portland's 2-1 home opener win against Seattle Reign FC as part of a larger story for Sports Illustrated on the Thorns' Alex Morgan.
Wahl, a longtime college basketball and soccer writer for SI, really made his mark in 2009 with his excellent book, The Beckham Experiment: How the World's Most Famous Athlete Tried to Conquer America. Written in near real-time during the MLS season, it was an in-depth look not only into Beckham’s arrival with the LA Galaxy but also an inside look into Major League Soccer as a whole entity.
Since the book, Wahl has covered World Cups and international soccer along with a bid for for the FIFA presidency on a platform of more transparency. Through it all, he has continued to tell insightful stories across the soccer universe.
I sat down with him to talk about his impressions of the Thorns home opener, where MLS is at now near four years past his book and the importance of this summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup to the U.S. Men’s National Team.
The Backcut Podcast sits at the intersection of Timbers, Thorns, soccer & culture to explore the unique elements of the beautiful game. You can subscribe to The Backcut on iTunes in the same feed as the Talk Timbers podcast.
Sunday's Portland Thorns FC home opener was memorable for many reasons.
There was the 2-1 win over the Seattle Reign FC.
And then, of course, there was THE HAIR. Hear goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc talk about her special edition 'do for the first ever Thorns home opener:
Want more Karina LeBlanc? Vancouver B.C.'s The Province, fresh from their great profile of fellow Canadian Christine Sinclair, does an excellent feature on LeBlanc's arrival in Portland and her deep commitment to the UNICEF Sports Ambassador program. Read it here.
One of the most beautiful things about soccer is its ability to unite people around the world, whether it’s behind a team, a nation, or in this case, a cause.
Former professional soccer player Jared Montz believes that part of being a pro is giving back to your community. He started the Online Soccer Academy to provide free online resources and training to soccer players around the world.
This year, the Online Soccer Academy is putting on their 3rd annual charity event called the OSA World Juggle-a-thon to raise money for Nothing But Nets. On April 25, World Malaria Day, players of all ages will juggle at 6pm their standard time anywhere in the word they have a ball. Jugglers try to beat their personal juggling records and in the process they raise money for Nothing But Nets.
Every 60 seconds a child in Africa dies from a malaria infection. With this in mind, the UN Foundation created Nothing But Nets in 2006 to raise money to provide African children with anti-malaria bed nets. The campaign was inspired by sports columnist Rick Reilly, who challenged each of his readers to donate at least $10 to purchase anti-malaria bed nets.
As part of the campaign, Jared Montz is Soccer Walking America. This 45 day, 15-city video series tour to raise awareness for the event included a stop in Portland, where Montz juggled with some of the Timbers and Thorns.
To become a juggler and fundraise, or to make a one time donation, please visit the OSA World Juggle-a-thon website.
Follow Jared Montz on Twitter to keep track of his tour.
The Portland Timbers Food Cart Alliance (PTFCA) is a free, cross-promotional program designed to highlight the Rose City’s vibrant food cart culture. Through the PTFCA, select Portland-area food carts will have the opportunity to serve their food cart fare on Timbers and Thorns FC match days at JELD-WEN Field via fan vote.
Now’s your chance to choose the next round of carts that will serve at the stadium this season. Choose carefully, the five carts that receive the most votes on this poll will serve at three JELD-WEN Field events!
Know of any additional carts that should be included in this program? Post in the comments below or learn more about the program here.
The Portland Timbers and Portland Thorns FC have announced a new partnership with Chirpify, which will allow fans to conduct transactions in-stream on social media, including entering online giveaways, buying merchandise and donating to charitable partners of the Portland Timbers and Portland Thorns FC.
Once registered through Chirpify, all shipping, billing, and customer information will be automatically entered and makes entering Timbers and Thorns FC contests or purchasing merchandise as simple as replying to an official post on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.
Not only will Chirpify make transactions easier and faster for fans, they will also receive exclusive deals only offered through Chirpify. These exclusive offers will include contests, autograph vouchers and merchandise offers. When the Timbers and Thorns FC post contests and giveaways, fans that have registered with Chirpify can simply reply to the post to be eligible to win or to make a purchase.
For example, every home game fans that are registered with Chirpify will have the opportunity to enter to win autograph vouchers to use at post-game autograph signings with Timbers or Thorns FC players. Both teams will also give away signed merchandise and can’t buy game-day experiences.
Fans are encouraged to sign up now in order to take advantage of Timbers and Thorns FC promotions throughout the season.
“What a night!”
This was Christophe Vezinet’s initial reaction when we asked him about his experience at the Timbers match on April 6th against Houston. Christophe and his family were the recipients of a Spread the Love welcome package for that match.
Althea and Dougal Cullen, Timbers Army season ticket holders and former Waiting List members, nominated the Vezinet family to receive a Spread the Love welcome package.
“My brother Cedric, his daughter Madison, my daughter Manon and I had a lot of fun,” said Christophe. “You could feel all the great soccer vibrations all over JELD-WEN Field that night.”
Christophe is used to watching top-flight teams in Europe, and says the Timbers experience was very comparable.
“Even for the people that are not ‘soccer connoisseurs’, the Timbers team is really fun to watch,” Christophe explained. “Every time I see them playing I feel like they are going to crush the other team. I have yet to see a Timbers game that was boring, and since there is a little bit of French blood in that team, it can only increase my interest.”
However, says Christophe, his daughter and niece were likely more excited than him and his brother.
“A staff worker gave our daughters some passes to the autograph sessions with the players at the end of the game,” said Christophe. “You can imagine how excited they were to meet the players. I also received a hand written note from Manon thanking me for tickets. One of the highlight moments for me was getting to see how excited she was for the whole night.”
Christophe says he and his family are grateful for the opportunity, and are looking forward to coming back for another match.
“But most of all, a big thank you to the Timbers organization for letting us experience those moments; we will certainly do that again. It is a great way to spend a family night out. My daughter keeps asking me for another game night and she can’t wait to go to a Thorns game very soon.”
Rey was the recipient of the Spread the Love welcome packet for the April 6th match against Houston.
Die-hard Timbers season ticket holder and Stand Together advocate, Dwight Adkins, nominated Rey. Dwight is a good friend of Rey’s, and is a member at the gym where Rey coaches and trains.
“Rey is a trainer at Skogg, a kettlebell gym in the Pearl,” Dwight explained. “All day he motivates others to be healthy, strong and happy. Rey does a great job of inspiring others, and I thought a night at a Timbers match would be fun for him to sit back, relax and enjoy some awesome soccer with his family.”
Rey has only attended one Timbers match, about five years ago when the team played in the USL. The match against Houston was his first MLS Timbers experience.
“The fans were amazing,” said Rey. “I have been to tons of high school, college, and professional sporting events, and have never been in an atmosphere like the one I experienced that night at the Timbers match.”
Rey was also pleased with the result, as the Timbers took three points from Houston.
“The Timbers looked awesome scoring two goals against the Dynamo. I had a great time!”
He also expressed his gratitude toward Dwight for giving him his welcome packet.
“I was very excited that he chose me to give this opportunity to,” said Rey. “My schedule and budget haven't allowed for many extra activities and to get four tickets to three different events was so generous! “
With the Timber’s first win stirring up Portland soccer fans last week, Kevin Carroll’s exhibit The Power of Sport + Play at Mercy Corps’ Action Center gallery could not have been better timed. The author of Rules of the Red Rubber Ball knows exactly how sports can empower a community just as they have electrified Portland.
Carroll’s exhibit features a mixture of sports media including books, paintings, "dream boxes," inspirational quotes, and balls from around the world. Hidden in gym lockers are mementos from Carroll's life, each with different themes such as his first childhood book Where the Wild Things Are as well as memorabilia from his time as the Philadelphia 76ers trainer. The exhibit ranges from Carroll’s own personal life as well as from inspirational athletes, philosophers, and international communities with a common denominator of sport and play.
Carroll kicked off the exhibit this past Tuesday night in a special lecture about on his own background as well as his philosophy that a ball can change the world. Sport and play bring people together by breaking down prejudices and creating a common ground. Carroll simplified the idea of sport being an amazing medium for communication because, as he put it, "We all speak ball."
Carroll’s exhibit The Art of Sport + Play is on view April 4 - July 31, 2013 during Mercy Corps Action Center hours 11am – 5 pm, Monday – Friday. For more information on Carroll and his inspirational story, visit his website. To learn more about the Portland Timbers pillar partner Mercy Corps, visit them here.
When most Timbers fans look back on the matchday against FC Dallas on August 5th, 2012, they remember two things: the almost unbearable temperatures, topping 100 degrees before a late-afternoon kickoff, and Jack Jewsbury’s late equalizer against a 10-man Dallas side to pull even in a 1-1 draw.
However, another noteworthy event was taking place above Section 93. The debut of the Portland Timbers Food Cart Alliance had set up shop at the Soccer City Grill concession stand. And what better cuisine for a hot summer day than Hawaiian-style plate lunches?
Childhood friends Kevin Scofield and Jensen Kip started 808 Grinds in September 2010. The Maui-raised duo brought their Hawaiian lunch creations to SW 9th and Washington in downtown Portland, and it was so popular that they were among the first food carts voted in by Facebook fans to be part of the PTFCA.
“It feels good to be voted in by our customers. There’s always a good vibe around here,” said Scofield. “A great customer experience is something that we want to accomplish, and it feels good. We’re happy to be here.”
This season, the Hawaiian boys are back. They will be setting up shop in the Soccer City Grill above Section 93 at the southeast corner of JELD-WEN Field. Not only will they be serving during the April 14th Timbers match vs. the San Jose Earthquake (7:30pm PT, NBC Sports Network, 750 AM The Game / La Pantera 940), they will also be there for the first Portland Thorns FC home match on April 21st vs. Seattle Reign FC.
This year 808 Grinds will be serving up Kalua Pig (traditional Hawaiian pulled pork) and 808 Fried Chicken (bite-size marinated chicken). Both choices will be served up with rice and macaroni salad. Single-item plates will go for $7, and combo plates will be $9.
“To be a part of the Timbers organization is very exciting for us,” Scofield added. “Not only to expand our reach, but to serve to local fans who are loyal to both us and the Timbers is a really great feeling.”
Interested in being part of the Portland Timbers Food Cart Alliance? Apply today.