USL

28 February 10:35 am

Photo: Traci Flitcraft / Portland Timbers

Longtime Timbers fans from the USL era may remember midfielder Troy Ready. The former University of Washington standout played three seasons for the Timbers and was had a huge presence in the club's community outreach programs.

By 2011, Ready had traveled halfway around the world to combine his abilities on the soccer pitch with his love of helping other people. Moving to Qurghonteppa, Tajikistan, Ready began work with the Millennium Relief and Development Services non-profit organization while playing for FK Vakhsh.

YanksAbroad.com catches up with him and talks about how it all came about.

"In 2005 I was invited to play on a professional soccer tour with a team called Ambassadors in Sport," Ready explained. "It was a compilation of several past and current players playing against Tajikistan's National team, Olympic team, and also they flew Afghanistan's national team to the country."

So in the midst of being there and seeing all of the opportunities football may unlock, it ended up being a good opportunity. And over the course of the next six years we made slow steps to moving ourselves and our family and making that our new home."

After establishing himself with FK Vakhsh, Ready worked with a number of American youth clubs that specialize in soccer development internationally. That, combined with his FK Vakhsh experience eventually landed him the job of the national team technical director. Never one to shy away from a challenge, the head coaching position at FK Vakhsh opened up recently and Ready has an eye towards taking that on along with his national team work.

"I've been in contact with the federation again. The former head coach of Vakhsh left to coach a different team up in the north," said Ready. "So, I'm putting my name in the hat for taking over as the head coach of Vakhsh along with the national team responsibilities and overseeing some of the youth clubs. "

In the end though, Ready has always been interested in humanitarian efforts along with the football aspect of his job. The former Husky is excited for his unique and rewarding opportunity in central Asia.

"It will be busy but it's something that I love to do, and it's a great platform beyond the football side of things," Ready went on to say. "There's just so many platforms for life and community development that have opened up as a result of coaching and playing It's a great platform beyond the football field."

It's a good read about an inspiring figure working hard both on and off the pitch.

02 January 11:52 am

Dike, moments before flipping - Photo: Getty Images

After a 2012 season that saw Bright Dike score 16 goals across all competitions--5 in the regular season, 5 in the MLS Reserve League, and 6 in the USL Pro while on loan to the LA Blues--the Timbers forward added one more tally to his growing goalscoring exploits as he scored the equalizer for Nigeria in a friendly against Catalonia on Wednesday.

Dike started the match in Barcelona as Nigeria faced the unique autonomous region of northeastern Spain known as Catalonia. Though not recognized by FIFA or UEFA, Catalonia has fielded a national team since the early 20th century often with numerous stars from FC Barcelona in their starting XI. Wednesday's match was no different as the Johan Cruyff-coached side featured Barca legends Carles Puyol, Xavi, and Gerard Pique.

For Dike, it didn't matter. After battling all game--including a nasty elbow to Puyol in the first half that left the centerback temporarily bloodied--Dike broke through in the 55th minute with a nifty cutback and lashed a shot with his left foot into the upper left corner of the net. Notice the trademark cartwheel backflip celebration.
 

Congratulations to Dike. Here's to getting 2013 started off on the (left) foot and to making your case for inclusion in Nigeria's squad for this January's Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa.

24 October 9:25 am


Chris Seitz with the Timbers in 2009 - Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer

What would you do if your name came up as a probable bone marrow donor for a person you've never met and who desperately needs it to save their life?

If you're FC Dallas goalkeeper Chris Seitz, you put your career on hold and say, "Yes."

In 2009, Seitz--then a member of Real Salt Lake--registered himself as a potential bone marrow donor as a show of solidarity with teammate Andy Williams. Williams' wife that season had been diagnosed with leukemia and many teammates went through the process of getting swabbed to put their names into a national database of donors. Three years later, now a member of FC Dallas, Seitz gets an email in the middle of the 2012 season saying he could be a match. Does he stay with the team? Does he put everything on hold? ESPN.com tells the story:

"I would look back at it and shoot myself in the foot if I didn't do it," Seitz said. "I'd always have questions about myself, about who I am. It just would have bothered me. If someone had the chance to do it to help me or [my wife] Kate, I'd beg them to do it. And it had just happened in my family. I saw it as my chance to give something back."

USL Timbers fans may remember Seitz donning the Timbers crest for two games during that 2009 season. After injuries knocked out the team's 'keepers, Seitz came on loan from RSL for two games against the Carolina Railhawks. He posted a win and a draw with two shutouts during his brief spell here.

Read the article and watch the incredibly personal video diary
, then learn more about how you can be a donor at GetSwabbed.org or Be The Match. FCDallas.com also has a story about how he continues to work in his rehab from the bone marrow harvesting procedure and how he hopes to someday meet the bone marrow recipient. 
 

19 October 9:55 am

 

The North American Soccer League (NASL), not the Clive Charles and Pele dominated one of the late 70s, but rather the newer second division of US Soccer--heads into the weekend with the Soccer Bowl on the line. The defending champion Minnesota Stars put together another Cinderella run to make the two-leg final against the Tampa Bay Rowdies with the first match tomorrow at the National Sport Center in Blaine, MN at 4:30pm PT with the return leg happening on Oct. 27 at the Al Lang Stadium in Tampa.

The Rowdies feature two players with Portland connections in former USL Timbers Dan Antoniuk and Keith Savage. Anotoniuk played 61 matches with the Timbers from 2003-2005 scoring 17 goals while Savage played 41 matches from 2009-2010 tallying three goals. The Stars also have some connections with the Timbers. Portland 2012 MLS Supplemental Draft pick Miguel Ibarra--who did not make the Timbers--had three goals and four assists for Minnesota this year while captain Kyle Altman and Kevin Friedland both were part of Timbers assistant coach Amos Magee's gold medal winning US team at the the 2007 Maccabi Games in Buenos Aires. Altman was an 2012 NASL Best XI selection this year and Friedland triples his playing duties by also serving as an assistant coach and director of business development.

Jonah Freedman's "Throw-in" column takes a look at the growth of the NASL and how MLS is looking at ways to partner with them. Is it a developmental league? Do the MLS Reserve teams play in the NASL? How does the NASL maintain it's own brand identity? It's a great read about a burgeoning league--hello San Antonio Scorpions and your sellout crowds--and I recommend the read on MLSsoccer.com.

Want to know more about the Minnesota-Tampa Bay match-up? Read Brian Quarstad of InsideMNsoccer.com's preview. Quarstad is a great resource on the second division of North American soccer.

07 September 4:24 pm

Dike while with L.A. Blues

With two goals in his last four games, Bright Dike has been on a bit of a run as of late.

After being one of the first Timbers players ever signed in the MLS era, Dike ruptured his Achilles' tendon in the first MLS preseason game and missed much of the 2011 season. After a hard dedicated recovery, he came back to the team and was loaned to USL PRO side L.A. Blues earlier this season.

In ten games, Dike got his groove back and pocketed six goals. So while he wasn't there for the entire season, USL PRO was impressed enough to name him to the 2012 All-League Second Team.

In other MLS-related news in USL New York Red Bulls forward Corey Hertzog was a finalist for MVP after spending the season on loan with the Wilmington Hammerheads. The small but increasing number of MLS teams loaning players to the USL is a growing phenomenon as more and more teams look to further develop their players with more games and minutes. Timbers defender and 2012 MLS SuperDraft first round pick Andrew Jean-Baptiste was also loaned to the Blues in 2012 for six matches.

WATCH: Dike finishes off Zizzo cross against Rapids

09 May 10:14 am

Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer

Timbers striker Bright Dike recently arrived with his new club L.A. Blues on loan earlier this week and spoke about his first training session there.

“The Timbers coaches told me I needed to get more minutes at a high level and that there were a few possible destinations,” Dike explained. “From what they said, it seemed like the Blues were the best fit, with coaches who can really help my game and who are determined to get the most out of every player. After one day of training, that’s exactly the impression I have. They know what they want to see on the field and what they expect out of us.”

It's clear that the strong forward is ready to contribute during his stay in L.A. Read the whole report on the USL PRO site here.

Got a story, tip, soccer tidbit to share? Send it in to thebackcut (at) portlandtimbers.com.

08 May 8:59 am

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.

 Jan. 20, 1914, Lincolln High School Boys Soccer Team
Photo courtesy the Futbol Heritage Archive/Boxscore News World Sportswire

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.