Soccer Culture

07 June 9:50 pm

Chicago-Fire.com Editor Jeff Crandall
in Timbers Army green & white

There is a certain art to diplomacy--particularly when it comes to a classic soccer scarf.

In the case of Chicago-Fire.com editor Jeff Crandall--a diplomat well-versed in the in's and out's of supporters scarf culture--it should come as no surprise that when he happened upon a flight attendant who was a diehard Timbers Army supporter, that an exchange of scarves would happen--mid-flight, no less.

Read the excellent story about how no matter where a soccer supporter may be, the act of sharing the soccer scarf talisman trumps all rivalry.

06 June 2:42 pm

"There are more than a few cities in the country where people love soccer but they're not selling out every game. Clearly, [Portland is] the flagship team in the league,"  - Sunil Gulati, president of the U.S. Soccer Federation.

In a look into the success of the Portland Thorns as a new franchise in a new National Women's Soccer League, espnW's Melissa Isaacson takes a closer look into the buzz and growth of the new club and its impact on the American soccer landscape.

Read it here.

Soccer City, U.S.A. indeed.

05 June 10:13 am

Courtesy of Roger Bennett.A colorized image of the American
Soccer League All-Stars team.
Olaff is at center in the baseball cap.

""It has been so exciting to savor MLS's growth," he exclaimed with enthusiasm. "When I watch television and see that packed stadium in Portland, I cannot believe it is in America. I could never have dreamed of a scene like that when I grew up in the 1920s and soccer was strictly for immigrants," he admitted. "But when you look at my life, you see, it has taken a good long time for it to get to where it is today."

Those are the words of  U.S. soccer legend Gene Olaff. Before Landon Donovan or Alexi Lalas, before John Harkes or Paul Caligiuri, Olaff was blazing a new trail for American soccer. Now 92, he is the oldest living former U.S. international and was a goalkeeper in the old semi-professional American Soccer League.

As the U.S. Soccer Federation celebrated their 100th year this past weekend, Roger Bennett of Grantland and ESPNFC.com fame wrote a brilliant piece about this living legend where he describes some of the early rise of soccer in America. It is a must read for soccer history aficionados. Also check out their great look at an all-time most influential U.S. XI for more history.

31 May 8:10 am

As part of our inaugural group of ticket holders, Harriet won the chance to have a VIP experience for the Portland Timbers vs. Wilmington Hammerheads US Open Cup match on May 29th, including KeyBank Club seats, and a chance to visit with Timber Joey on the field!

We asked Harriet a few questions after the match:

When was your first match supporting the Timbers?
First home game as an MLS team.  It rained buckets!  Our son and son-in-law used our tickets. They were soaked to the skin and loving every minute of it, while we were home warm and dry watching on TV.  The atmosphere, even on television, was electric.  You could tell this team was something special.

What was your favorite moment of this match?
Piquionne's first goal (and his second, and third, and fourth!)

Who would you nominate as Player of the Match?
That's pretty easy - Frederic Piquionne!

What is your prediction for the next match – Timbers at Chicago Fire?
That's easy, too.  The streak will continue - Timbers win by two.

What else should we know about your Timbers fandom? Any gameday superstitions? Favorite pieces of Timbers memorabilia?
We also have Thorns season tickets and are delighted to have so much quality soccer in Portland.  My game day superstition would be my Timbers earrings - wear them all day.  My favorite piece of Timbers gear is a hat autographed by Sal Zizzo.  

Being the Axe Society Members of the Match was wonderful!  The best part was the hospitality of all the staff and getting to visit with Timber Joey.  Thank you for a very special evening.

A big thanks to Harriet and Rich for being our guests and for their fantastic support!

If you are an Axe Society member and would like to enter to win the title of Member of the Match, please register here.

24 May 2:19 pm

Planning a relaxing Memorial Day weekend? Looking forward to unwinding on the couch and catching a full menu of sports? Well how about an exhilarating soccer tripleheader to keep you company this Saturday?

At 4 p.m. PT the Portland Timbers face D.C. United in our nation’s capital. At 7 p.m. PT the Portland Thorns FC take on rival Seattle Reign FC in Tukwila, WA. But before all of the excitement begins for the Portland sides, there is one game that the soccer community will surely be tuned in for: the UEFA Champions League Final.

Saturday’s final marks the end of the 58th Champions League season, a tournament with some very intriguing storylines. The final will be contested between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund; marking the first time the Champions League has seen an all-German final. Chelsea became the first defending champions to be eliminated during group stage. Dortmund's Mario Götze has been purchased by Bayern and will play for them next season. He is injured for the final and will not play for Dortmund. Perhaps the most intriguing story, however, will be the David vs. Goliath tone to the final matchup.

Bayern Munich, a perennial Bundesliga powerhouse, will be making their tenth Champions League final appearance, winning in 1974, 1975, 1976, and 2001. This will be Borussia Dortmund’s second final, having won in 1997.

Bayern may be the single most loved and hated German club at the same time. The team spends a hefty sum on acquiring the top talent in order to remain atop the table year in and year out. Dortmund, on the other hand, almost went bankrupt in 2005. They saved themselves by reallocating all of their resources to youth development and scouting, much to the pleasure of their fanatical support base.

The two German clubs will faceoff at Wembley Stadium tomorrow at 11 a.m. PT on FOX. You can also hit up the KICKTV Google Hangout over at www.kicktv.com. As a little bonus, here’s some of Dortmund’s tifo from earlier in the tournament:

23 May 3:15 pm

The U.S. Soccer Federation is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year and has often highlighted various important moments through out its history.

Yesterday, fourteen years ago, Portland Thorns FC head coach Cindy Parlow Cone - then just Cindy Parlow -helped make history providing the key assist to fellow U.S. Women's National Team legend Mia Hamm on her 108th career international goal in a friendly against Brazil. That strike put Hamm atop the list for most international goals scored by any male or female player in history.

Hamm went on to score 158 goals in 275 total caps. Cone, no slouch herself, bagged 75 goals in 175 career caps. 

Current Western New York Flash forward Abby Wambach is closing in on Hamm's record though. She sits at 155. Portland's Alex Morgan, still only 23, has 42, and Christine Sinclair is third on the all-time list with 145 goals.

21 May 4:29 pm

Continuing the new tradition of the presentation of roses following Thorns games to the goal scorers and goalkeeper who achieved a shutout, Girls, Inc. has been sending participants from their great youth programs to meet players after the game and hand them the roses in front of the North End supporters. For an organization that looks to inspire girls to be strong, smart and bold, it's truly a special moment after the match.


Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer

May 16 vs. Sky Blue FC

Alysse:
What was your favorite part about today?
A:  We got to watch the Thorns game and it was really fun to meet all the players and see so many people here to watch them.  

Tell us an example of you being strong and smart?
A:  I brought flyers for the arts and music for school and handed them out to different neighborhoods and it’s hard because you have to answer their questions.

Violet: 
What was your favorite part about today?
V:  The best part was Alex Morgan, giving us hugs and it made me really happy because she’s my favorite player on the team. I feel that being strong in sports is good for girls.

Tell us an example of you being strong and smart?
V:  At my old school I was being bullied so I switched school and I felt a lot better after that.

Kaitlynn:
What was your favorite part about today?

The best thing about tonight was meeting Alex Morgan and all the other players and when the head coach gave me a scarf. I play forward and really like Nikki Washington and Alex Morgan.

Tell us an example of you being strong and smart?
It’s important to be a good sport and shake people’s hands after the game even when you lose.

 


Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer

May 19 vs. Washington Spirit

Marilyn Danley
What was your favorite part about today?
M:  This was my first Thorns game. My favorite part of the day was the game because it was so exciting and we got to sit so close.

What was special about presenting the roses?
M:  Since Alex and Christine scored I got to give them roses. It was really special presenting the roses because I got to meet the player who are really nice and it was fun. This will be a very special memory

What makes you strong, smart and bold?
M:  I am strong, smart and bold because I really like sports. I love to play soccer.

What do you like most about playing soccer?
M:  What I like most about soccer is that you get to use your head, in both ways. You also get to hang out with friends and it takes a lot of team work.
 

Isabella Ventura
What was your favorite part about today?
I:  My favorite part about today was getting the chance to come out on the field and meet the players.

What was special about presenting the roses?
I:  Karina didn’t let any goals in so I got to give her the flowers. It was so cool because I got to be close and see them.

What makes you strong, smart and bold?
I:  I am strong, smart and bold because I get to be a voice for girls.

What do you like most about playing soccer?
I:  My favorite part about playing soccer is that we get to play and the people cheer us on – just like we cheered on the Thorns today.

15 May 9:00 am

As part of our inaugural group of ticket holders, Cord won the chance to have a VIP experience for the Portland Timbers vs. Chivas USA match on May 12th, including KeyBank Club seats, and a chance to visit with Timber Joey on the field!

We asked Cord a few questions after the match:

When was your first match or memory of supporting the Timbers?
The MLS Opener on April 15th, 2011. Portland 4, Chicago 2 – especially Jorge Perlaza’s 29th minute goal, assisted by Kalif!

What was your favorite moment of this match?
Wallace's goal to put Timbers up 1-0.  His game has dramatically improved since last season.

Who would you nominate as Player of the Match?
I'd have to go with Futty Danso.  He was so solid on the back line as well as aggressive on the attacking side.

What is your prediction for the next match – Timbers versus the Vancouver Whitecaps?
I no longer predict the scores, and since I've stopped, we've had a great run!

What else should we know about your Timbers fandom? Any favorite pieces of Timbers memorabilia?
I was invited to the first Banquet dinner.  Let's just say I had a little too much red wine and I took a wood carved axe that was on display.  I got it signed by the team and it is become a permanent fixture in my house.

A big thanks to Cord and Tammy for being our guests and for their fantastic support!

If you are an Axe Society member and would like to enter to win the title of Member of the Match, please register here.

14 May 4:23 pm

Dominic was the recipient of a Spread the Love welcome packet for the May 2nd match against the New England Revolution. Mick Hoban, current Timbers community ambassador and former NASLTimbers midfielder nominated him.

“I was looking forward to being in the company of soccer lovers, the Timbers Army, Timber Joey, [and] watching a great game of soccer,” said Dominic.

A native of Sierra Leone, Dominic spent 25 years teaching physical education in the Lake Oswego area. He is currently the head coach of the Lake Oswego High School girls’ varsity team, and is a former OYSA Girls Coach of the Year. Well-versed in soccer, Dominic says he was impressed with the how the team played.

“The team played a great game,” said Dominic. “The team's effort and gamesmanship on the field was very good.  Especially team defense, speed of play, and possessing with a purpose.” 

He says he also enjoyed the environment at JELD-WEN Field.

“I had a blast. The match was exciting. The Timbers fans were at their best. Their chanting and cheers echoed [through] the stadium the entire evening. The atmosphere was spectacular.”

In addition to being a coach, Dominic knows what it means to “Spread the Love” off the field. In 2006, he formed a non-profit organization called Kaimba Incorporated, also known as Dynasty House. The organization's mission is to help rebuild the lives of the people of the war-torn Sierra Leone by providing family housing and educational scholarships. So far the organization has built two five-bedroom houses, which are now home to six families, and is currently sponsoring 116 scholarships for grade school and high school age boys and girls.

What does “Spread the Love” mean to Dominic? “It means more than just those three words,” he said. “It is an act of giving/sharing a piece of whatever one has with others who might need it or benefit from it. It means making someone happy.”

Know someone you think is worthy? Nominate them at www.spreadtheloveptfc.com.