MLS News

24 October 9:25 am


Chris Seitz with the Timbers in 2009 - Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer

What would you do if your name came up as a probable bone marrow donor for a person you've never met and who desperately needs it to save their life?

If you're FC Dallas goalkeeper Chris Seitz, you put your career on hold and say, "Yes."

In 2009, Seitz--then a member of Real Salt Lake--registered himself as a potential bone marrow donor as a show of solidarity with teammate Andy Williams. Williams' wife that season had been diagnosed with leukemia and many teammates went through the process of getting swabbed to put their names into a national database of donors. Three years later, now a member of FC Dallas, Seitz gets an email in the middle of the 2012 season saying he could be a match. Does he stay with the team? Does he put everything on hold? ESPN.com tells the story:

"I would look back at it and shoot myself in the foot if I didn't do it," Seitz said. "I'd always have questions about myself, about who I am. It just would have bothered me. If someone had the chance to do it to help me or [my wife] Kate, I'd beg them to do it. And it had just happened in my family. I saw it as my chance to give something back."

USL Timbers fans may remember Seitz donning the Timbers crest for two games during that 2009 season. After injuries knocked out the team's 'keepers, Seitz came on loan from RSL for two games against the Carolina Railhawks. He posted a win and a draw with two shutouts during his brief spell here.

Read the article and watch the incredibly personal video diary
, then learn more about how you can be a donor at GetSwabbed.org or Be The Match. FCDallas.com also has a story about how he continues to work in his rehab from the bone marrow harvesting procedure and how he hopes to someday meet the bone marrow recipient. 
 

19 October 9:55 am

 

The North American Soccer League (NASL), not the Clive Charles and Pele dominated one of the late 70s, but rather the newer second division of US Soccer--heads into the weekend with the Soccer Bowl on the line. The defending champion Minnesota Stars put together another Cinderella run to make the two-leg final against the Tampa Bay Rowdies with the first match tomorrow at the National Sport Center in Blaine, MN at 4:30pm PT with the return leg happening on Oct. 27 at the Al Lang Stadium in Tampa.

The Rowdies feature two players with Portland connections in former USL Timbers Dan Antoniuk and Keith Savage. Anotoniuk played 61 matches with the Timbers from 2003-2005 scoring 17 goals while Savage played 41 matches from 2009-2010 tallying three goals. The Stars also have some connections with the Timbers. Portland 2012 MLS Supplemental Draft pick Miguel Ibarra--who did not make the Timbers--had three goals and four assists for Minnesota this year while captain Kyle Altman and Kevin Friedland both were part of Timbers assistant coach Amos Magee's gold medal winning US team at the the 2007 Maccabi Games in Buenos Aires. Altman was an 2012 NASL Best XI selection this year and Friedland triples his playing duties by also serving as an assistant coach and director of business development.

Jonah Freedman's "Throw-in" column takes a look at the growth of the NASL and how MLS is looking at ways to partner with them. Is it a developmental league? Do the MLS Reserve teams play in the NASL? How does the NASL maintain it's own brand identity? It's a great read about a burgeoning league--hello San Antonio Scorpions and your sellout crowds--and I recommend the read on MLSsoccer.com.

Want to know more about the Minnesota-Tampa Bay match-up? Read Brian Quarstad of InsideMNsoccer.com's preview. Quarstad is a great resource on the second division of North American soccer.

11 October 8:19 am

We've spoken about Darlington Nagbe's custom designed adidas boots as well as Joe Bendik donning pink gloves all as part of MLS' Soccer Kicks Cancer campaign this month.

KGW also took notice and did this nice report not only on the players' involvement but also why the ascent of pink-related products has raised awareness and funding around a disease that thirty years ago wouldn't even be allowed to be mentioned in the newspaper.

That growing awareness has helped saved lives. “We think when you look at all the pink, it has helped us reduce the death rate by some 30 percent,” said Komen Oregon CEO Thomas Bruner.

All Timbers players will be donning some bit of pink for the last regular season match on Oct. 27 against San Jose. To learn more, visit MLSsoccer.com's Soccer Kicks Cancer page.

05 October 12:54 pm

Nagbe's custom adidas cleats

In honor of the league's support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, adidas has reached out to a number of MLS players to design their own special boots. As a result, DCU's Chris Pontius, New York's Kenny Cooper, Seattle's Fredy Montero, Sporting's Teal Bunbury and our very own Darlington Nagbe have all become shoe designers.

Nagbe has been training in his special custom shoes for a couple of weeks now looking to break them in for matchday. He's definitely excited to have them.

“These will be my first custom cleats, I’m pretty excited," he said. "Adidas is famous for their stripes, so I wanted to make the stripes, laces and other pieces on my boots pink to support breast cancer awareness.  I used black and gold on the rest of the cleat to draw attention and try to make the pink really stand out.” 

Like 'em? You can pick up your very own pair here.

And just because he didn't want to feel left out, Timbers 'keeper Joe Bendik has some special pink gloves he's sporting as well.

27 September 9:00 am

Jimmy Conrad doing his thing

You may have noticed the flood of videos on YouTube from a channel called KICKTV. They have quick summaries of footy related news on The Mixercompilations of all the goals in a week, a show all about soccer equipment called The Gear Show, there's looks into interesting online soccer video clips calle The Whip, and much more.

Perhaps one of the more visible people of this new soccer online channel is host Jimmy Conrad. Conrad, a former MLS All-Star, World Cup veteran for the U.S. national team and one-day member of Real Madrid, takes questions from fans, talks about the sport, and is their go-to guy to go on the road and dig into the interesting fun elements around the culture of soccer. The first big trip they sent him on was Euro 2012 whereupon he watched games in public squares with throngs of Polish fans, played pick up games in farm fields, and gave a unique perspective into the massive tournament.

Most recently, Conrad was in Portland interviewing Merritt Paulson, learning how to chainsaw, attending the Kicking + Screening Film Festival, and becoming a member of the Timbers Army at the huge Portland-Seattle Cascadia Cup rivalry match. 

In the inaugural edition of The Backcut Podcast, I sat down with man-about-town Conrad to learn about what exactly the new YouTube soccer channel KICKTV is, why it matters to soccer fans, and how Jimmy got involved with it.

The Backcut Podcast sits at the intersection of Timbers, 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.

11 September 8:37 am

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.

03 September 10:36 pm

Photo: Mary Schwalm/AP

 

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."


Image: Adidas

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

 

31 August 1:40 pm

As is well known by now, Caleb Porter will be the Timbers new head coach beginning in 2013. After a stellar career at the University of Akron, an NCAA national championship, buckets full of talented players who went on to MLS--including our own Darlington Nagbe, a slip up with the US U-23s and Olympic qualifying, and one final year with the Zips, Porter has decided to make the jump to the next level.

MLSsoccer.com's Jonah Freedman talks about what he calls "The Fraternity" of college coaches who made the same leap and the challenges they face: 

The 37-year-old Porter will join [Schellas] Hyndman, Bruce Arena, Thomas Rongen and Sigi Schmid. Those four have among them six MLS Cups, five Supporters’ Shields, five US Open Cups and seven MLS Coach of the Year awards among a laundry list of other accomplishments.

No pressure, right? By now, no one should be crying that college coaches don’t have the chops to make the jump directly to the pros. That quartet is clear proof they do.

Freedman goes on to explore what that pressure is like and how some of that quartet dealt with it to become successful in MLS. 

Read the whole thing over at MLSsoccer.com.

Meanwhile, Porter's Zips take on Creighton tonight at 5:30pm PT. There's a live webstream at NetNebraska.org.

19 July 2:42 pm

Last weekend, my wife dragged me out to a massive—and I mean MASSIVE—antique show in North Portland. Two full expo center halls plus and outdoor soccer pitch’s worth of tents filled with sellers of all manner of knick-knacks, furniture, vintage toys, prints and the like.

While I was on the hunt for nothing in particular, I found myself drawn to tables with old postcards and photographs. It was here that I began to uncover fun little elements of soccer history.

At one table, the merchant had three-ring binders of old photos. In one overflowing tome simply labeled, “Sports,” were random photos of soccer clubs from Prague in the 1930s.

I was particularly drawn to a collection of six photos labeled, “Sparta ABA vs. Heidelberg SC, National Cup, 1936.” Underneath each club is “Chicago” for Sparta and “Pitsburg, PA” (sic) for Heidelberg.  A few Google clicks later revealed that Sparta ABA stood for Sparta Athletic and Benevolent Association. Wikipedia tells us that Sparta ABA, aka Chicago Sparta was founded by Czech immigrants in 1917.

The National Cup referred to in the photos is, in fact, the now more commonly known Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Wikipedia gets a bit vague here, but best I can make out, the pictures are from the Western Division National Cup semi-finals which Heidelberg won 2-1. Wikipedia lists a Sparta Garden City of Chicago playing Heidelberg but given the photo, I’m inclined to believe Wikipedia meant Sparta ABA.

My score of the day, however, came just as the whole show was finishing up. Tucked behind some old Muppets pint classes and other plastic toys was an early-year MLS soccer ball from at least 1997. Adorned with numerous now defunct logos of Miami Fusion FC, San Jose Clash, Tampa Bay Mutiny, and old skool New York/New Jersey MetroStars, I talked the guy down to $10.

While I expected to find old baseball mitts, balls and bats—and I did—it’s clear there’s a rich historical soccer memorabilia world out there. eBay is full of vintage goodies. For Father’s Day, my family got me an NASL Portland Timbers pennant off of eBay. Surprisingly when I opened it, however, it turned out the seller made a switcheroo mistake. I opened a triangular shaped box to find a pennant for the Edmonton Drillers. Presumably, there was an equally confused father opening his present in Alberta.

Want to find other random bits of soccer lore? Soccer blog KCKRS.com has a whole feature dedicated to it called “Treasures of eBay.” From Pink Floyd soccer kits, to a signed 1979 Minnesota Kicks ball, to a team autographed USWNT baseball, it’s all here.

What random bit of soccer history do you cherish? Let us know in the comments below or email us a pic at thebackcut(at)portlandtimbers.com.