International

05 April 4:39 pm

On the U.S. Soccer Federation's 100th birthday, Thorns FC forward Alex Morgan and the U.S. Women's National Team had a bit of a crazy game against Germany this morning. Despite taking a 3-1 lead on goals by Abby Wambach (47th minute), Megan Rapinoe (55) and Morgan (71), Germany battled back with two late goals in the 85th and 86th minute in front of 16,090 fans in Offenbach, Germany. Second-half sub Sydney Leroux had a late effort saved off the line in one of the wilder games in recent U.S. WNT memory.

Morgan started and played the full 90 minutes for the United States, while Thorns FC defender Rachel Buehler was an unused substitute. Midfielder Tobin Heath, who will join Thorns FC this summer after playing out her contract with French side Paris Saint-Germain, entered the match in the 77th minute for Heather O'Reilly.

Morgan's goal in the 71st minute came off a long, curling pass over the top of Germany's defense from FC Kansas City midfielder Lauren Cheney.

On Thursday morning, Thorns FC forward Christine Sinclair and the Canada Women's National Team tangled with France in a rematch of the London 2012 Olympics bronze-medal match (which Canada won). Despite going down 1-0 during first-half stoppage time on a well-placed Elodie Thomis goal, Canada kept it close and struck late in second-half stoppage time.

Sinclair collected a deflected ball and slipped a pass right into the path of Kaylyn Kyle in the fourth-minute of second-half stoppage time and Kyle netted the equalizer for Canada in front of 5,783 fans at Stade du Ray in Nice, France. Thorns FC goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc was an unused sub for the match.

Canada is back in action on Sunday, April 7 at 7 a.m. (Pacific) against England at New York Stadium in Rotherham, England. The U.S. Women's National Team visits The Hague, Netherlands on Tuesday, April 9, for a 10 a.m.  (PT) match against the Netherlands at Kyocera Stadium. 

22 March 10:21 pm

So you may have heard there was some snow in Denver tonight for the USA vs. Costa Rica Hex World Cup Qualifier. Dempsey gave the U.S. the 1-0 win.

21 March 2:11 pm

With the U.S. Men's National Team busy preparing for their World Cup Qualifier against Costa Rica tomorrow night (7pm PT, ESPN), KICKTV has put together this very nice primer on just what the Hexagonal is. In short, it's the long and difficult pathway for CONCACAF teams to qualify for the World Cup.

KICKTV also had great Hexagonal coverage of the first match against Honduras in episodes one and two.

Elsewhere in the Hex, Timbers forward Ryan Johnson and goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts go to battle for Jamaica as they take on Panama in Kingston on Friday evening at 6:30pm PT. Updates throughout the match can be found via the Jamaican Football Federation's Twitter feed @ItsTheJFF.

Over in Africa, Futty Danso joined the Scorpions of The Gambia National Team for a World Cup qualifier on Saturday against Ivory Coast. In a tune-up friendly  this week against Niger, Danso scored the second goal in a 3-1 win.

Also in action tomorrow is Timbers midfielder Will Johnson whose Canadian Men's National Team is in Qatar for a friendly against Japan.

Follow @CanadaSoccerEN for updates tomorrow beginning at 9am PT. 

13 March 2:57 pm

Timbers Academy co-director wrapped up his trip to France as part of a special MLS partnership with the French Football Federation. After partaking in a number of classes at the FFF's Clarefontaine national training center, Smith was able to spend some time with Ligue 1's Paris St. Germain to observe their academy system.

The PSG website had an article about the Smith and the other MLS Academy coaches (FRENCH) but Smith's time there also included some opportunities to see the French club's first team in action as well as their dramatic UEFA Champions League victory over Spain's Valencia:

Started observation week at PSG and got tickets to see their away game at Reims who were near bottom of the French table. PSG lost 1-0 to 10 men. Great atmosphere of sell out 25,000 but not like JELD-WEN!

Met with the PSG Academy Director and head coaches and watched their U19 and U17’s train today. There was a unique session for 30 minutes on the beach soccer court they have next to their field to help improve their team strength. Today was the only day of the week that they do daily double, which was interesting to see the workload.

In between sessions we got to tour their residential facility and eat lunch in their player’s cafeteria. Tomorrow we are heading back to their regional training center to see the U15 Parisian Region play which includes 8 PSG players and 3 players from Clairefontaine--French Federation Residency program.

After that, we are heading to the Champions League game, PSG v Valencia!  It has been an incredible trip so far and very worthwhile.

13 March 9:17 am

Sometimes that which is local goes global. This is particularly true of the culture of soccer and how it can reach around the world. For the Timbers and their fans, there is a special bond between supporter and club. One area where this is particularly true is how many Portland season ticket holders reach out to the club via their season ticket holder services representative to share their stories about their travels and experiences as a fan.

Case in point: season ticket holder Sean Ingersoll reached out to Timbers ticket services manager Leigh Calvert about his travels in Africa with some great pictures; pictures that had a particular Cascadian bent. An avid soccer player himself, Ingersoll and his friends have often challenged themselves to play soccer in remote environments. And when I say remote, I mean places like, Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania.

Ingersoll picks up the story:

Some friends and I decided it would be fun to go to Tanzania and climb Kilimanjaro.  We have all played on the same GPSD adult soccer team, FC77 Rangers, and we try to play soccer in some unique environments.  In 2010 we climbed to the top of South Sister and had a 3v3 match in the snow-filled crater at 10,300’…which was awesome.  This year we decided to go to Africa and climb the mountain with Zara Tours, maybe even kick a ball around on the top. Zara sponsors several charity projects in Tanzania, including an orphanage in Moshi. We thought it would be a decent gesture to bring some school supplies and soccer gear so we passed the word around to our kid’s soccer teams, friends, co-workers and the effort just exploded. I think we collected over 250 lbs. of paper, notebooks, pens, 50-ish pairs of used and new soccer boots, balls, pumps, socks, etc. So we paid for the extra baggage and shipped all of the goods with us to Tanzania for the kids at the orphanage. We met the kids and teachers--it was an incredible experience. 

In the top picture, Jim Snyder and I are both from Portland and Timbers fans. My buddy Shawn Mulqueeney is from Issaquah and is a Sounders fan. I suggested we bring our scarves for a summit picture and he agreed that would be fun. About two days into the climb, we got out a soccer ball and invited the porters to kick around with us (middle picture). The elevation was 12,800’. What was amazing about that was the mood of the climb seemed to change after that, from clients/porters to friends. Ah, the power of football. We summited on the third day, got out the scarves, and proved that Cascadia has the best and most hard-core soccer fans around. I did have a ball in my summit pack, but I could barely lift my foot more than 3” to take the next step, much less juggle or head a ball. One kick and I’m certain it would have rolled all the wall back down to the Kenyan border! So we hung out with the glaciers for about twenty minutes, took our pictures, and came back down.

Between stoking a rivalry around the world as well as making a difference in a foreign community, Ingersoll is clearly having an impact. Got a story of your own Timbers fandom from around the world? Send us a note at thebackcut@portlandtimbers.com.

05 March 11:43 am

Portland Timbers Academy co-director Mike Smith continues his time in France through an elite level training course as part of a special partnership between MLS and the French Football Federation. Here's his latest update.

Today was more sport psychology, and they introduced game analysis and charting, which we put into practice as we got to watch their first year students play in a game. They are born in 1999 and they played a friendly against another youth pro team. The 99’s won 6-0 and were impressive!  A number of top European Scouts were there too. 

We also watched the Parisian Center of Excellence players (1998’s) training. They did well and have certainly looked to play an attractive attacking style of football ever since we arrived here. This was the third time we have seem them train on different themes.

The photos are the statue they have of the world cup they won in 1998, the 1999’s (in red) in their game this afternoon and the French Sports Scientist showing us the data they were tracking by heart monitors and GPS of their young players…

The final one is the designated first team (National Team) pitch where finally the snow is melting.  It is reserved only for the National Team and is in pristine condition. The Chateau where we are staying overlooks it. The field is so well kept, that it has electric wire about it to keep out the wild boars!

 

28 February 11:35 am

Photo: Traci Flitcraft / Portland Timbers

Longtime Timbers fans from the USL era may remember midfielder Troy Ready. The former University of Washington standout played three seasons for the Timbers and was had a huge presence in the club's community outreach programs.

By 2011, Ready had traveled halfway around the world to combine his abilities on the soccer pitch with his love of helping other people. Moving to Qurghonteppa, Tajikistan, Ready began work with the Millennium Relief and Development Services non-profit organization while playing for FK Vakhsh.

YanksAbroad.com catches up with him and talks about how it all came about.

"In 2005 I was invited to play on a professional soccer tour with a team called Ambassadors in Sport," Ready explained. "It was a compilation of several past and current players playing against Tajikistan's National team, Olympic team, and also they flew Afghanistan's national team to the country."

So in the midst of being there and seeing all of the opportunities football may unlock, it ended up being a good opportunity. And over the course of the next six years we made slow steps to moving ourselves and our family and making that our new home."

After establishing himself with FK Vakhsh, Ready worked with a number of American youth clubs that specialize in soccer development internationally. That, combined with his FK Vakhsh experience eventually landed him the job of the national team technical director. Never one to shy away from a challenge, the head coaching position at FK Vakhsh opened up recently and Ready has an eye towards taking that on along with his national team work.

"I've been in contact with the federation again. The former head coach of Vakhsh left to coach a different team up in the north," said Ready. "So, I'm putting my name in the hat for taking over as the head coach of Vakhsh along with the national team responsibilities and overseeing some of the youth clubs. "

In the end though, Ready has always been interested in humanitarian efforts along with the football aspect of his job. The former Husky is excited for his unique and rewarding opportunity in central Asia.

"It will be busy but it's something that I love to do, and it's a great platform beyond the football side of things," Ready went on to say. "There's just so many platforms for life and community development that have opened up as a result of coaching and playing It's a great platform beyond the football field."

It's a good read about an inspiring figure working hard both on and off the pitch.

26 February 5:50 pm

Timbers Academy co-director Mike Smith's unique MLS-led research trip to the French Football Federation continues.

After a long first, interactive day of class, on Monday night I was lucky enough to participate in a quite incredible Commencement Dinner with Gerard Houllier and Commissioner Don Garber. I can tell you that the French Chefs are brilliant!!! There were only 7 courses. :)

The course is definitely challenging from a theoretical point of view and they are looking for things a little differently from the way we do in Licenses for US Soccer.  It is always good to see a different point of view and today (Tuesday) was more specifically looking at their teaching method, an introduction to their sports psychology module and some instruction on how to cut up videotape. 

We got to see some of the U14/15 boys here training at Clairefontaine, the Parisian Regional Training Center. The U17 French National Team arrived today for 3 days of training and we hope to see them tomorrow.

Read Part One here.

25 February 12:04 pm

From the rainy February of Portland to the snowy fields of the French Football Federation's national training facility in Clairefontaine, Timbers Academy co-director Mike Smith has traveled quite a distance.

Sent as part of a special MLS initiative to broaden league academy and player development, Smith was selected to partake in a extensive Elite Formation Coaching License program that involves close collaboration with the FFF as well as on-site observation and work with Ligue 1 side Paris Saint-Germain.

Freshly arrived in Paris this weekend, Smith was whisked away to the training facility and snapped a few photos:

Got to the French Training center... how amazing! It was snowing here most of the afternoon. We were taken into the local village for savory crepes for dinner with the obligatory red french wine. The scenery is so rustic and cool but we are in the middle of nowhere in the snow! Am staying in Chateau where French Men's National Team stay. I am in Lizarazu's room

Throughout Smith's stay in France, we'll post updates and photos as they come through. 

  

22 February 6:04 pm

Lee Baxter, AIK goalkeeping coach

With just over a week to go befor the Portland Timbers' season opener against New York Red Bulls (Mar. 3, 4:30pm PT, ESPN2 - March to Soccer Opening Match presented by Alaska Airlines), the team has been preparing with a broader approach to their final preseason tournament match against AIK (Feb. 23, 5pm PT, webstream at www.portlandtimbers.com) treating it more as though it were a real league game. Midfielder Will Johnson called it a "dress rehearsal" and that there'd be a definitive emphasis on getting a virtual three points in anticipation of when they're in the fight for an actual three points.

For AIK, the situation is very similar. Long a mainstay of the country's top division Allsvenskan, AIK's season runs a similar spring-to-fall calendar as MLS. After a few preseason games of their own in Oxnard, Calif., the team has been in-residence in Portland for the Timbers preseason tournament.  They drew 0-0 to FC Dallas in the opener and held another clean sheet in a 0-0 draw against San Jose Earthquakes in their second match.

Lee Baxter (right) is the team's goalkeeping coach and third 'keeper. In his first stint with the club from 1998-2000, Baxter was part of a team that made it to the Champions League and he played in matches against Arsenal, Barcelona, and Fiorentina. Growing up around soccer his whole life--his father Stuart was a club head coach in Sweden as well as leading the national teams of South Africa and Findland--Baxter has enjoyed a long and diverse soccer career. Now back with AIK, Baxter and I talk about how the team has been experiencing Portland, his hopes for AIK's 2013 season, and the importance of supporter's culture both in the U.S. and Sweden. 
 

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.