Soccer Culture

29 March 11:24 am

The scarf. At first glance, it appears to be a simple fashion accessory. However, to soccer supporters around the world it is a matchday essential.

Many scarves utilize the traditional two-color bar pattern. Others commemorate specific matches or moments in club history, lyrics from supporters’ songs and chants, or legendary players. 

And just like the supporters who don them proudly, soccer scarves may look the same in design, but each tells a different story of past memories. Every supporter remembers their first scarf and the sweat, tears, smoke, and occasional spilled beer that live within its fabric.

Some wear their scarves for warmth during brisk late-season matches, while others display them as a badge of honor and pride. They are a supporter’s tool during songs, and best friend during celebratory smoke bombs. It can be a sign of support in triumph, and a beacon of solidarity in defeat. The scarf is colorful, vibrant, and unifying voice of the supporters. 

Many scarves function as practical accessories for matchday, and many others find residence on display in homes, offices, and bars. The varieties and uses of scarves are endless, and supporters are always seeking out the next addition to their collection.

The Portland Timbers recognize this, and are giving fans an opportunity to collect a new, unique scarf every month of the season.

  • The 2013 Timbers “Scarf of the Month” Program gives fans an exclusive opportunity to collect limited edition official scarf designs throughout the season
  • Generally, the “Scarf of the Month” will launch online several days before it launches in-stadium at the first home match of every month
  • Designs are exclusive to the adidas Timbers Team Store & shop.portlandtimbers.com
  • All are limited edition available in limited quantities
  • All are $28 retail price
  • For first dibs on your “Scarf of the Month” be sure to sign up for the Team Store mailing list at http://shop.portlandtimbers.com/signup.html

The Scarf of the Month for April is available now online at shop.portlandtimbers.com and will be available in-store on April 6. Keep in mind, each of these scarves are limited quantity. Once they’re gone, they’re gone for good. 

27 March 12:22 pm

Bless Field plan courtesy OPI

A ball, some kids, and a place to play. When you get down to it, soccer is a simple game.

However, sometimes finding that place to play becomes a challenge.

The good folks over at Operation Pitch Invasion have set out to change that. OPI, a tightly connected affiliate of the Timbers Army 107 Independent Supporters Trust, has been working since 2011 helping repair soccer fields throughout Portland as well as fundraising for the creation of whole new ones. 

Their next project is Bless Field at New Colombia. As their release says: "Bless Field is uniquely situated in a neighborhood where children from 22 countries, who speak 11 languages (plus the common language of soccer), take their first steps into integrating into the larger community." The Portland Timbers Community Fund has come on board with a commitment and OPI is organizing a very unique event to raise further funds that is sure to entertain the hardiest of Timbers fans:

“Beating Seattle Never Gets Old”
Thursday April 4; 7:00 pm
Hollywood Theatre, 4122 NE Sandy Blvd
$12 in advance; $15 at the door

Hosted by 5 Minutes to Kickoff's Bob Kellett and Steven Lenhart, the evening is a gathering of past Timbers greats from the NASL era including Willie Anderson, Bernie Fagan, Roger Goldingay, Mick Hoban, Bill Irwin, and Jimmy Kelly talking about great moments of Timbers history.

Come see highlights of the Timbers playing against Pele and his Cosmos in Portland in 1976; the Timbers playing the Chicago Sting at Wrigley Field in 1982; and, in an extended cut, the Timbers playing the Seattle Sounders in a playoff semifinal before a record crowd in Portland in 1975.  

It's a special night with some rare footage, great stories, and every penny raised goes straight back to Bless Field. Only 350 tickets are available, so get yours now.

22 March 9:21 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 1:11 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. 

15 March 8:59 pm

As a Portland Timbers fan, there's really nothing like attending a rivalry match against the Seattle Sounders. It is fierce, visceral, loud, spirited, entertaining, awe-inspiring . . . and that's just the first ten minutes of the supporters groups' tifo unveiling.

The battle on the field can raise the stakes to a whole other level. This Saturday's clash between the Timbers and Sounders (Mar. 16, 5pm PT, NBC Sports Network, 750 AM The Game / La Pantera 940) culminates an entire day of Rivalry Week intensity. NBC Sports Network will air three of the games and have a special highlight show during the afternoon jumping from each of the other matches around the league.

This emphasis on MLS rivalries has grown each year but the Portland-Seattle clash has proved to be a premier event. And no wonder. The uniqueness of this soccer animosity goes back nearly 40 years skipping across NASL, USL and MLS editions of both teams.

Oregonian sports writer Geoffrey C. Arnold is the paper's primary Timbers and soccer beat writer. Covering Oregon sports for over twenty years, Arnold has attended MLS Cup, the Super Bowl, the NBA Finals, and much more. But it was the 2009 U.S. Open Cup match between the then USL-era Timbers and the then first-year MLS Sounders that piqued his interest around this loud and incredible rivalry. He set out to find more about the heros and villains, interviewed players past and present, examined the art of the tifo and much more. The result: Cascadia Clash: Sounders vs. Timbers.

On the eve of this next installment of the Cascadia Cup Portland-Seattle rivalry, I sat down with Arnold to find out more how he started his book, why he thinks such conflicth exists between the teams, supporters, and cities, and where he thinks the rivalry will be headed to next.

Be sure to sit back and take in all the league's rivalry matches throughout the day.
 

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.

14 March 12:27 pm

Photo: Craig Mitchelldyer

Earlier this week in the UEFA Champions League, Turkish side Galatasaray traveled to Germany to take on Schalke. It was a crucial encounter that Galatasaray eventually won 3-2 to move on to the quarterfinals. Their rabid fan base traveled en masse and though the away section was overflowing, there were reports of supporters attempting to carve a tunnel under the fence to get in.

According to The Guardian, "(Schalke Sporting Director Hans) Heldt confirmed the incident before the game, which ended with a 4-3 aggregate victory for the Turkish club, saying: "Yes, that's right. Some supporters have tried to dig a tunnel with their bare hands."

While we applaud the devotion of the traveling Galatasaray fans, for those of you who are contemplating heading north to watch the Portland Timbers begin their defense of the Cascadia Cup in a battle with the Seattle Sounders, all you have to do is get on the bus.

The 107 Independent Supporters Trust--the organizing group of the Timbers Army--is handling all Seattle Away day travel. Tickets are still available for public purchase and include a bus trip and game ticket option to get you there or just a ticket-only option if you want to drive yourself. 

They're going fast but you can get yours now by visiting the 107ist.org site here. What are you waiting for?

14 March 11:57 am

Image via Portland Mercury

"Communication, it's everything, on and off the field," Valeri says. "We go on the road and we can't learn. I want to start this month. I have coaching, an English teacher. She teaches me words and sentences, but I want to start. I want to watch films and read books. Only English."

If you want to learn more about what drives new Timbers midfielder Diego Valeri, why he came to MLS ("It's grown. I find a team, a club, MLS, that is spectacular"), how his family is settling into Portland (he's taken his four-year-old daughter, Constanza, to the zoo), how he's bonding with his teammates (he roomed with team captain Will Johnson in Tucson preseason), and how the Argentine is trying harder than ever to bring his English up to the same speed as his silky moves on the pitch (see above), then you must read this excellent feature by Brian Gjurgevich in this week's Portland Mercury. Grab a copy on your nearest street corner to save the artwork and read the piece online right here.

13 March 2:06 pm

Vince and his family were recipients of the Spread the Love welcome packet for the March 9th match against Montreal.

We asked Vince a few questions about his experience at the match with his son Shaun and two daughters Alexis and McKenna:

What is your relationship to the Spread the Love ambassador?
“Suite Sue” Simpson was our ambassador. She actually gave the “welcome” packet to Neal Harrington, who unfortunately was unable to attend the match due to a last minute work conflict. In turn, Neal really embraced the “Spread the Love” mantra and shared the packet with my family.

What were you most looking forward to about attending a Timbers match?
We had never been to a Timber's game before so anticipation was high on what to expect. The kids really wanted to see Timber Joey!

What was your favorite part of the match?
The kids enjoyed watching how the game was played, the intricacies of the sport and how quickly and skillfully the players moved on and around the field.

Have you ever been to a match? If so, what was the last time you attended?
No, this was the first Timber's game we had been to.  It was cool experience and very exciting.

What was your reaction when you received the "welcome" packet?
It was great - we were excited about everything.  We were all very excited that we had an opportunity to go!

Interested in nominating a deserving fan? You can, here. Recipients will be selected shortly for the two Timbers home matches in April. 

13 March 1:57 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 1:49 pm

Big matches mean big tifo and this Saturday's Cascadia Cup rivalry match between Portland and Seattle should be no different (5pm PT, NBC Sports, 750 AM The Game / La Pantera 940). MLSsoccer.com takes a look at some of the past iterations of Portland and Seattle supporter-created tifo.

Wear headphones. Turn volume up to 11. Watch the video.