Soccer in Oregon
The 2012 FIFA European Championships got off to a rousing start late last week with group play. Poland's Robert Lewandowski got things started with the first goal of the tournament. The celebration of over 100,000 people in Warsaw's central square was not to be missed.
While MLS has only one player in the mix this year--LA Galaxy forward Robbie Keane is the captain of Ireland--there are a number of players who Portland fans may have come across via recent international friendlies with the Timbers. Will it help you pick your side? Who knows, but take a look:
Roy Hodgson - The current England manager most recently was the head man for West Bromwich Albion when they came through Portland in 2011 and helped lead them to a 3-2 win. Euro 2012 marks Hodgson's first tournament with the Three Lions
Joe Hart - The current England starter in net was also the starting goalkeeper in Manchester City's 3-0 win over the USL-era Timbers in 2010 at the University of Portland.
Joleon Lescott - Part of the Manchester City travel roster in 2010, Lescott came on in the second half against the Timbers at UP. More recently, he started and scored England's only goal in their opening Euro 2012 1-1 draw with France on Monday.
Gregory van der Wiel - The young Dutch defender came to Portland last season as part of Ajax's U.S. trip and played the full 90 picking up an assist in their 2-0 exhibition win over the Timbers. Van der Wiel also started in Holland's 1-1 draw with Denmark last week.
Simon Cox - Though English-born, Cox qualifies for Ireland from his grandmother's side. The West Bromwich Albion striker came on as a second half sub against the Timbers last July. He was also a 62nd minute addition for Ireland in their 3-1 loss to Croatia.
Shay Given - Part of the travel roster with Manchester City in 2010 when they played the USL-era Timbers at University of Portland, Given was held out of the match. He is currently the starting goalkeeper for the Irish and leads the squad witn 123 caps.
Jonas Olsson - Another member of the West Brom squad who played here last season, the veteran Olsson was an unused sub in Sweden's 2-1 loss to Ukraine earlier today.
Looking to learn more about the Euros? Check out KickTV's coverage of the tournament. Former U.S. international and MLS defender Jimmy Conrad has been traveling about Poland and Ukraine taking in the sites, training, and the matches. It's a must watch if you want to get a feel for the pure fun that is the European tournament. As a sampler, take a look at his talking his way into the Spain-Italy match on Sunday:
With today's acquisition of Danny Mwanga from the Philadelphia Union in exchange for Jorge Perlaza, much has been made of Mwanga's Rose City roots. Originally born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mwanga and his family fled the Congolese civil war in 2006 to settle in Northeast Portland whereupon he starred for Jefferson High School (53 goals in nine games) and later for Oregon State University (Pac-10 Player and Freshman of the Year in 2009).
Stephen Alexander of the Portland Tribune did a nice profile of Mwanga and the story of his journey to the United States when the then-Union forward came to take on the Timbers last season:
Mwanga was born into the bloodshed and sorrow of the Second Congo War. The war claimed the life of his father and forced his mother to flee the country, leaving Mwanga and his three older sisters behind. As a boy, Mwanga played soccer in the streets after school to forget some of the pain. A daring escape in June 2006 reunited Mwanga and his sisters with their mother in Northeast Portland.
It's a good read. Check it out here.
Searching through our own PortlandTimbers.com archives, last season Terry Horstman spoke with Mwanga's former Oregon State Beavers coach Steve Simmons as well as John Bain--president of Mwanga's youth team and adidas Timbers Alliance club, Westside Timbers. Bain is also a current Timbers alumni ambassador.
“He’s really humble, he really appreciates everybody, and he’s a really genuine and nice person.” Westside [Timbers] President and Timbers Ring of Honor inductee John Bain said. “I don’t think we’ve seen the surface of how good he’s going to be.”
At that same match in Portland last season, 400 of Mwanga's family and friends from the Westside team were in attendance. It's another great read.
The influence that Westside had on Mwanga is unmistakeable. In an article MLSsoccer.com did on Mwanga's homecoming, they talked about the role youth coach Monty Hawkins had on the young forward:
From teaching him how to drive to helping him find out where to go to school, Hawkins filled a very large void in the teenager’s life. “He helped me a lot and is a big part of my family,” Mwanga said.
Check out the full article here.
Timbers fans in Oregon, do you remember Mwanga's youth in Portland? Share your stories and memories in the comments below.
Two second-half goals, first by Timbers forward Kris Boyd and then from Whitecaps striker Darren Mattocks, led to a 1-1 draw between the Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps on an evening that had it all: intense rain, hail and lightning, not to mention an action-packed final 45 minutes.
The image is made up of 570 individual images taken throughout the first half and stitched together to form one large image. The final high resolution picture is 118,188 X 49,694 pixels or 5.8 gigapixels.
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Soccer history isn't always dealing with obscure fith division teams from some pastoral English countryside. No. Rather there's a long American--and even Oregonian--slant to what we know as The Beautiful Game.
George Fosty, president and a founder of the Society of North American Historians and Researchers, has written a lovingly researched post online that charts the history of soccer in Oregon all the way back to the 19th century. The early guises of the Multnomah Amateur Athletic Club—now known simply as the Multnomah Athletic Club (MAC) and its quest to build a stadium that eventually becomes JELD-WEN Field, intra-Oregon collegiate rivalries, road trips to Seattle, a Cameron Cup, the inception of the womens game, hoodlums, hoodwinks, and eventual creation of the Portland Timbers are all mentioned in his piece, Knee-Knockers: Celebrating 120-Years Of Oregon Soccer. Fosty explains his love of Portland and sets up its founding in the Oregon Territory as the precursor to a long soccer history:
The city of Portland, the largest city in Oregon, was incorporated in 1851. At the time of incorporation Portland boasted a population of 821, of which 653 were men, 164 women, and 4 were identified as "free colored." By 1885, the population would stand at 17,500. Fifteen years later, the city would register 90,426. By 1910, it would boast 207,214. During these years, Portland would distinguish itself as one of the most forward thinking cities in North America. A visionary approach that often split over into the realm of sports, among which included the game of soccer.
While much of those early years are difficult to research and may be built around more conjecture than fact, it's an interesting read into the nascent stages of Oregon soccer. Read the whole thing here.
Hungry for more history? Check out Portland-based historian and occasional PortlandTimbers.com contributor Michael Orr’s new book that expands upon the creation of the NASL-era Timbers in his new book The 1975 Portland Timbers: The Birth of Soccer City USA. Well researched with interviews from many of the original Timbers such as current MLS-era soccer ambassadors John Bain and Mick Hoban, the book is a unique snapshot of a key era of Portland soccer history.
Still wanting more history? The excellent soccer blog Free Beer Movement blog took the recent Lionel Messi achievement of scoring 72 goals over the course of a first division season—including all cup tournaments—to delve into how that broke a record once held by an American soccer player, Archie Stark.
With players like Pele (66 for Santos in 1958) and Mueller in the rear-view mirror for global scoring tallies who could have Messi blown by to set yet another record?
An American, of course.
Yes. Someone from the United States of America.
Buried in a host of articles celebrating Messi's accomplishment (many omitting any mention of it at all) was the name Archie Stark.
Read up on this great piece of American soccer history here.
Study up for finals.
Got a story, tip, soccer tidbit to share? Send it in to thebackcut (at) portlandtimbers.com.