Soccer in Oregon

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.

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 8:33 am

While Bolton's Stuart Holden looks like a lock to make Jurgen Klinsmann's squad for this summer's Gold Cup, according to Soccer America, Alejandro Bedoya is also making his case to be included in the team--if not for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers in June. Currently playing with Helsingborgs in Sweden, the one-time Rangers midfielder put in this great assist against BK Häcken.
 


(Getty Images)

Landon Donovan's near term future with the USMNT has also been a topic of late given his long leave of absence during the offseason. Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl recently reported that Klinsmann plans to omit the LA Galaxy star from the upcoming World Cup qualifiers as well as friendlies. Klinsmann had hinted earlier this spring that this may be the case saying, "there are players clearly ahead of Landon Donovan right now." 

Wahl goes on to say though that the Gold Cup roster could remain a possiblity for the U.S. star. You can also hear more about Wahl's thoughts on the Gold Cup in the last edition of the Backcut Podcast.

For a guy with 144 caps and 49 goals for the national team, it seems like the Gold Cup could be a good stage to work him back into the mix. What do you think? Who should feature for the USMNT in this Gold Cup tournament? Get your tickets now for the July 9 match against Belize.

UPDATE: Donovan addressed the situation on the Galaxy's All-Access Podcast on Tuesday saying, “Jurgen and I have consistently spoken over many months now. I was not aware that that was information that was already made public. Jurgen has not told me that it was definitive that I wouldn't be there – you never know. All I can do, as I've said all along, is do what I do."

World Cup qualifiers. Gold Cup roster. Donovan probably fits in there somewhere. The question is where and when.

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.

07 May 9:31 am

Liviu Bird of Soccerwire.com goes in depth into the creation and growth of the Timbers Academy charting not just its MLS development but also its early roots going all the way back to the USL era.

“It’s a tremendous pyramid we have within the top level of soccer here in Oregon,” Timbers Academy co-director Mike Smith said. “We basically would love to have everybody on the same page and under the same umbrella.”

It's a good read and charts out how the Timbers are looking to build deep roots throughout the entire state. Take a closer look at it here.

02 May 12:27 pm

Kaitlyn was the recipient of the Spread the Love welcome packet for the April 14th match against San Jose.

Carrie Cool, president of West Hills Junior Soccer Club, presented Kaitlyn with her Spread the Love packet.

Carrie and Kaitlyn had never met prior to their Spread the Love contact, but Carrie chose Kaitlyn for two reasons: “[Kaitlyn] had never seen a live Timbers game before,” and also works with the disabled in our community. “She won me over.”

Kaitlyn could not hold back her excitement when she received her packet.

“I was over the moon about finally getting to see the Timbers play live,” said Kaitlyn. “I was most looking forward to the atmosphere of the fans at the stadium, and being able to yell and holler at the game as opposed to just the TV!”

The Timbers took three points from San Jose that night after a sensational free kick goal from Will Johnson.

“It's hard to say whether my favorite part of the match was seeing Johnson score a beautiful goal,” said Kaitlyn, “or being in the crowd high fiving my friends and strangers as we all went wild right afterwards.”

She told us the excitement didn’t stop after the 90 minutes was over.

“Once I was in the car and out of public, there was a lot of smiling, laughing and all out jovial hollering with joy over the whole deal.”

Kaitlyn says she is officially hooked.

“I plan on trying my best to attend many more Timbers and Thorns FC matches in the very near future!”

25 April 2:01 pm

Special thanks to www.theoriginalwinger.com for image

In a summer packed with Portland Timbers matches, Portland Thorns FC matches and the CONCACAF Gold Cup coming to town, there’s no shortage of the beautiful game to be found in Soccer City, USA.

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.

18 April 8:49 am

“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.”

18 April 8:48 am

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! “

11 April 3:24 pm

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.