In his latest Throw-in column for MLSsoccer.com, Jonah Freedman opines on how a precedent can set up a team's expectations. Whether it's the Cascadia Cup, Brimstone Cup, Trillium Cup, MLS Cup, U.S. Open Cup or more, Freedman posits that no matter the silverware, these trophies matter. They can help define, or at the very least, begin to define the direction a team aims to take. Given how close the Timbers are to winning this year's Cascadia Cup in what has been a difficult season, Freedman asks,
So what are fans supposed to make of these trophies? For Portland, it’s a sign of progress, a symbol of success upon which they can hang their hats in their second MLS season. It is perhaps a springboard to future glory, when a young team with a young coach can do great things as they evolve.
Former MLS'er, US international, and KICKTV host Jimmy Conrad who did such great work at Euro 2012 and the recent Mexico-USA friendly at Azteca, goes on location to examine the Portland-Seattle rivalry, the Kicking + Screening Film Festival and more. First up, he goes one on one with Timbers owner and president Merritt Paulson.
More to come as KICKTV goes through the huge Cascadia Cup clash.
Lies, damn lies, and statistics: How adidas' miCoach could change MLS (plus a cameo from Jean-Baptiste)
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."
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
The Oceania Football Confederation--home federation for New Zealand Football--wrote a nice piece about new Timbers signing Ian Hogg recently that makes for a good read. A starter in all three matches for the Oly Whites at the London 2012 Summer Olympics, Hogg played alongside Jake Gleeson who was also a member of the team.
"I'm just looking to take any opportunities I get given," said Hogg. And with Timbers GM/interim head coach Gavin Wilkinson and assistant coach Cameron Knowles also being veterans of the All Whites New Zealand national team, Portland has a growing Kiwi contingent.
Read the article here.
The article refers to Hogg's first goal in his senior national team debut during a friendly against El Salvador earlier this spring in Houston. It's a pretty quick run down the left flank that leads to a confident strike. See it here (Fast foward to the 29:41 mark, commentary in Spanish).
Then watch Hogg's first training with the team from last week.
While we often post here in The Backcut about news and interesting soccer tidbits, cool events with team partners, and other assorted ephemera, this Saturday, August 11 presents a particularly easy way to mix your love of Timbers with beer and helping out a great cause.
Join defender David Horst and goalkeeper Jake Gleeson--Gleeson freshly returned from London 2012--along with Timbery Joey at Widmer Brothers Brewing at 929 N Russell Street this Saturday from 5-8pm for a special "Brother's Day" event. There will be live music, prizes - including a pair of 2013 season tickets, plus for $20, you get two Timbers Reserve League tickets for the match against the San Jose Earthquake Reserves on Aug. 26, two drink tokens to Brother's Day, and a Timbers scarf and keychain.
All proceeds from the 21 and over event's beer sales and special ticket packages benefits Big Brothers Big Sisters Columbia Northwest--one of the Timbers Stand Together Pillar Partners.
Sounds like a great way to spend a Saturday evening.
For Timbers players Diego Chara, Hanyer Mosquera, Sebastián Rincón and Jose Adolfo Valencia, today marks the 102nd anniversary of their native Colombia’s independence. To get us all in the spirit of celebration, here are a few facts about Colombia’s independence and the flower vase that helped to start it all:
- Formerly called New Granada, Colombia was under Spanish rule – then under Joseph Bonaparte after his brother, Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Spain in 1808.
- Bogota, New Granada’s capital, was the stronghold of Spanish power. Smaller surrounding cities and towns had announced their independence as early as April 1810.
- To incite the riot, Bogota patriots asked a well-known Spanish merchant to borrow a flower vase to decorate the table of a patriot sympathizer. The merchant, known for his quickness to anger, would be sure to lose his temper and begin the riot. Accounts to his reaction are mixed and unclear, though the patriots ran throughout town shouting about his rudeness, regardless.
- Simultaneously, another patriot appealed to Viceroy Antonio José Amar y Borbón for an open council regarding independence. This request was denied, and the Bogota residents took to the streets, openly protesting the Spanish rule.
- Patriot leaders once again approached the viceroy, but with a different solution: they asked for a town meeting to elect a governing council, of which Viceroy Antonio José Amar y Borbón would be a part of. He agreed after some hesitation (and the prodding by the mob outside his front door), and signed the act that eventually secured Colombia’s independence.
Today, Colombians celebrate their independence day with feasts, parades and festivals. Learn more about Colombian culture and traditions in this segment of Verdado o Falso from FutbolMLS.com with Hanyer Mosquera and Diego Chara (In Espanol).
You are the definition of RCTID. You’re there at the game in the rain. In the sun. In the cold. In the heat. Win lose or draw you cheer your heart out.
You understand the unique relationship between team and city.
And yet somehow, you don’t have season tickets.
This is your chance. With over thousands of people still on the waiting list trying to get season tickets, this is your opportunity to jump to the front.
The photo with the most votes by July 16, 5pm PT wins two 2013 season tickets. That’s TWO tickets that gets you in to all the MLS games at JELD-WEN Field next season.
So get your cameras out and get snapping. Time is running out.
Are you RCTID?
At today's match against the San Jose Earthquakes (7:30 pm PT; KPTV Fox 12, Timbers Television Network; 750 AM The Game, La Pantera 940), the Portland Timbers will be conducting a very special Lose the Boot auction with all the proceeds going to support Mercy Corps, an international nonprofit based in Portland, to help raise awareness of, and money for, their Sport for Change programs around the world.
Fans can visit the Timbers Stand Together table, located near gate Gate 4 and the Sunset Porsche Audi Suite Elevator, any time during pregame and before the end of halftime to bid on a pair of a player’s game-worn boots. The winning bidder will go down to the field following the match to meet the player, receive the autographed boots and have a photo taken to commemorate the event.
Fans will be able to bid on any of the following players’ boots:
|Eric Alexander||Jack Jewsbury|
|Joe Bendik||Troy Perkins|
|Freddie Braun||Steve Purdy|
|Eric Brunner||Sebastian Rincon|
|Mike Chabala||Franck Songo’o|
|Diego Chara||Chris Taylor|
|David Horst||Sal Zizzo|
Stand Together with the Timbers in making a positive, charitable impact on communities around the world by making a bid at the Lose the Boot auction this evening All in all, it's a great chance to get a unique piece of memorabelia and meet one fo the Timbers players. Get bidding!
David Horst has been picking up the honors this week with his CenturyLink Man of the Match performance in the memorable 2-1 victory over Seattle. MLSsoccer.com also bestowed an honorable mention to him in their Week 16 Team of the Week.
But perhaps most interesting is MLSsoccer.com taking a look at his first ever MLS goal in their great Anatomy of a Goal series. Calling his strike via Franck Songo'o's corner kick "textbook," editor Greg Lalas gives us the X's and O's of how Horst's gamewinner came to be.
Got a story, tip, soccer tidbit to share? Send it in to thebackcut (at) portlandtimbers.com.
You like soccer. The people in your office like soccer. You all like soccer. It's simple.
But where can you get all the soccer-loving people in your office to play soccer? The 2012 Portland Timbers Corporate Cup, that's where.
A unique tournament that brings Pacific Northwest corporations together for soccer and corporate networking, the tournament also helps raise money for one of the Timbers' Stand Together Community Parthers: Portland YouthBuilders.
The tournament proper takes place over Aug. 10-12 at the Howard M. Terpenning Complex in the Tualatin Hills Park & Recreation District with a championship match happening at JELD-WEN Field on Aug. 18. There's a team social event at Kells Irish Pub, great networking opportunities and, oh yeah, a heck of a lot of soccer to be played over a short period of time.
Tournament brackets are broken into men’s competitive, men’s recreational or co-ed so there's opportunities for all.
One key element: THE DEADLINE TO REGISTER YOUR TEAM IS THIS SATURDAY, JUNE 30.
Find out more on how to register and all the other details at www.timberscorporatecup.com.
Update: Teams from Alaska Airlines, Widmer Brothers, CMD Portland, Wieden + Kennedy, Nike, Microsoft, the Portland Timbers front office & adidas all have registered teams so far. Come join in the fun!