This one is for all the marbles.
The Portland Timbers head north to take on the Seattle Sounders on Oct. 7 at 6pm PT. Currently sitting atop the three-team standings for the Cascadia Cup between the Timbers, Vancouver Whitecaps, and Sounders, the Timbers could return home with the coveted cup if they draw or win at CenturyLink Field.
Unable to make it north for #SeattleAway? Do not fret, we'll be hosting a big bash at one of our esteemed Timbers Pub Partners but we want your help in deciding where. Vote on the poll at right to have your say about who should host and where you'll want to be when you watch this historic match.
The poll ends September 26 at 5pm PT.
Starting this Saturday, September 22 when the Timbers play Real Salt Lake (5pm PT NBC Sports, KXL Radio / La Pantera 940), fans will be able to receive automated text, score alerts on their phones. The free service (standard messaging rates may apply per your cellular provider) includes automated alerts for goals and red cards, as well as notifications for kickoff, halftime and the end of the match. The service is for all first-team matches and will send messages in real time.
You can sign up now; just text ALERT to 27299 to join.
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.
Timbers alumni and fans are banding together to participate in Portland’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s in the name of former Timbers player Jimmy Conway.
Conway played for the Timbers from 1978 until 1980 and served as an assistant coach from 2001 until 2005. Diagnosed with trauma-induced dementia, Conway still remains active in the Timbers community with the help of friend, former teammate, and Timbers Alumni Ambassador Mick Hoban.
“My relationship with Jimmy is still good as he recognizes me in association with Timbers games. I have taken him to all of the Timbers home games the past two seasons,” said Hoban.
“As a friend and former teammate I was saddened to hear the diagnosis but like many other friends I said that I would do all I could do to help.”
Hoban has been involved in previous efforts to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Association in Conway’s name. After Conway’s diagnosis in 2010, friends and family members committed to a series of testimonial events for Conway - including a silent auction, a testimonial match and a golf tournament, leading to a donation of $21,000 to the Alzheimer’s Association.
The 2012 Portland Walk to End Alzheimer’s will be held Sunday, September 23 at Portland International Raceway. Timbers fans are invited to walk alongside Conway, Hoban, friends, family and Timbers Army members to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Association. Fans are encouraged to register with the Friends of Jimmy Conway team and to wear “something soccer” to the event.
For more information on the Alzheimer’s Association, Walk to End Alzheimer’s and dementia, visit the Alzheimer’s Association website here.
Noah Davis, contributor to NBC Sports' ProSoccerTalk.com as well as MLSsoccer.com, was in town recently for the Timbers-Sounder Cascadia match. But he also took note of the massive crowds generated for the MLS Reserve League games earlier this summer that drew on average this season 8,200. The Aug. 26 match against the San Jose Reserves set a new Reserve League record of 14,121--more than a regular season matches at New England and Chivas.
In his latest piece on Grantland, Davis writes about how with Reserve League tickets easier to come by and being affordable, the matches present opportunity to see rising stars play which the Rose City has quickly embraced:
In Portland, attending a reserve league game means seeing 19-year-old potential American star Charles Renken and the brilliant Colombian 18-year-old Sebastian Rincón. Hometown favorite, Brent Richards, a 22-year-old forward who starred for the University of Washington and the Timbers U-23 squad before signing as senior side's first homegrown player in January, is also a fixture. "We have a knowledgeable fan base and they know the quality that can come up through the reserves. I mean, Brent Richards is already a hero, and he's played what, a whole 45 minutes this year?" Fernando Machicado, who chairs the Game Day Ops and the Merchandise Committee for the Timbers Army, says. (Actually, it's closer to 200 minutes, but point taken.)
Moreover it's something MLS has taken notice of as well:
"I think clearly what's going on in Portland shows what the reserve league's potential is," MLS President Mark Abbott says. For most teams, it will take a long time to reach that potential, if they ever do, but, Abbott says it's undeniable that there's something special going on in Timbers Nation: "They have had some decent draws up in Seattle and occasionally in some other places, but nothing like we're seeing here in Portland."
Reserve League Highlights: Timbers set attendance record against San Jose Reserves
Former Timbers U-23s midfielder Steven Evans continues to impress at the University of Portland. He scored an incredible golazo already featured on The Backcut and is one of the Pilots featured in their new athletic department ad campaign.
Most recently, however, the Oregonian did a feature on Evans saying he "is close to becoming one of the program's all-time greats." Given UP's track record at producing some excellent players over the years--Heath Pearce, Steve Cherundolo, Kasey Keller to name but a few--that is high praise.
A veteran of a national championship with Portland youth club Eastside United--now adidas Timbers Alliance club Eastside Timbers--as well as the 2012 Timbers U-23s PDL championship, Evans isn't letting all his recent Pilot success go to his head.
"It's nice to see your hard work is paying off, but I'd rather the team have a good season," Evans said.
Also of note is MLSsoccer.com's latest MLS on Campus power rankings which has Caleb Porter and his University of Akron team moving up a spot to #4 overall.
Caleb Porter led his Akron Zips into their first home matches this past weekend since being named head coach of the Portland Timbers. Taking on some nationally ranked programs and playing in front of a national TV audience on Friday night on FOX Soccer, the Zips wrapped up the weekend winning The University of Akron Tournament and placing six players on the all-tournament list.
On Friday, the Zips drew 0-0 with No. 10 St. John’s with senior goalkeeper David Meves picking up the shutout. Meves led the team again on Sunday with another clean sheet as Akron blew past No. 11 South Florida 5-0. Senior midfielder Scott Caldwell had two goals in the match and was named the tournament’s Offensive MVP while Meves garnered Defensive MVP honors. With the back-to-back shutouts for Meves, he now sits six shy of the all-time school record held by Evan Bush—currently a goalkeeper for the Montreal Impact. Zips Eric Stevenson, Dillon Serna, Chad Barson, and Aodhan Quinn joined Meves and Caldwell on the All-Tournament Team.
Also of note was Akron Beacon Jounal writer Marla Ridenour writing about how the AK-ROWDIES—Akron's student fan section (right)—reacted to Porter’s decision to join the Timbers. Porter has spent years helping grow the student supporters section. In his first seasons at Akron, Porter would buy students pizza at halftime out of his own pocket if there were more than 100 of them in the stands. He went to Rowdies meetings, helped with bus trips to away matches, and worked to get them to the 2009 national championship game. In short, he helped build and expand a supporters culture that is among the best in college soccer.
Some highlights from the article:
--Speaking before the game, past and present Rowdies seemed happy that Porter is following his dream to the MLS.
“He’s too great a talent to spend the rest of his time in the NCAA,’’ said Cody Perdew, a UA junior from East High School. “There’s no reason for him to spend 10 years at Akron. He belongs somewhere better.
--Perdew wasn’t the only one who thought seven seasons at UA were enough for Porter
“You can hardly criticize a man for taking the next step toward greatness,” said Ryan McClellan, a 2010 UA graduate from Akron.
--“I love Caleb Porter and I wish him the best,” said Nate Hess, a UA senior from Ashland who was wearing what looked like a Speedo and a blanket.
With blanket-and-Speedo-wearing ROWDIES, the Timbers Army should be familiar environment for Porter.
On Friday night, as FOX Soccer cameras broadcast the game, many AK-ROWDIES wore green as a show of support for Porter’s Portland choice. Next season, it should come as little surprise if there’s some extra green in the stands when the Timbers head to Ohio.
Christina Marion, a 2011 UA graduate from Warren Howland, said the announcement was “a big surprise.”
“I don’t think everyone expected it this soon,” Marion said. “But he’s with his former players, he’s in a better place. I’ll still cheer for him and try to visit the Columbus Crew when [the Timbers] are in town.”
Akron will next open up Mid-American Conference play next weekend at Bowling Green. The Zips and Falcons will kick off at 4pm PT, next Saturday.
Darlington Nagbe has had a very busy couple of weeks. His former Univ. of Akron head coach, Caleb Porter, was named head coach of the Timbers. He had a camera crew follow him around for MLS 36 for NBCSports. He helped out with a special project with MLS Digital and EA Sports that will air soon. His jersey is one of the top selling kits in MLS. And he came in at #15 on the MLS 24 Under 24 list.
But Saturday presented a rare opportunity to reunited with an old friend in Seattle Sounders midfilder Steve Zakuani. Both teammates under Porter while at the Univ. of Akron, the two had yet to actually take the field with each other due to Zakuani's leg injury that had kept him on the shelf for almost a year.
In a great article on SoundersFC.com, Zakuani spoke about playing against a friend with whom he shares a long history:
“It was great, you know. Last year, I didn’t get to play against him, so this year it was just good seeing him out there, and getting the chance to go against him,” Nagbe said. “It was fun. We both had fun.”
Like Zakuani in 2010, Nagbe is having success in his second MLS season. Zakuani was tied for the team-lead with ten goals in 2010, while Nagbe has six goals for the Timbers with still six games left on the schedule.
The success comes as no surprise to Zakuani, who has been carrying the Nagbe flag for years.
“I’ve known Darlington for a very, very long time and always said he’s a great player. He’s maturing more and more,” Zakuani said. “I still think he has a long way to go, because I think he has so much quality. I was happy to, for the first time, play against him at this level. I wish him to continue to become a good player.”
Zakuani goes on to talk about his friendship--he'll be in Nagbe's wedding in the offseason--and says that he'd like to share the pitch with him some day again on the same side:
“He’s someone I like to always look out for and I wish him to keep playing the way he’s playing right now,” Zakuani said. “I wish maybe one day in the future we can play again together. But at this point he is with Portland and I’m with Seattle.
The Akron roots run deep for many players across MLS. Nagbe was reunited with with another former Zip and close friend, Teal Bunbury, earlier this season both for an adidas commercial and on the field. Moreover, wunderkind Vancouver Whitecaps rookie Darren Mattocks, yet another former Akron teammate of Nagbe's, tweeted today about his thoughts on Nagbe's inclusion in the 24 Under 24 list.
@darlingtonnagbe should be in the top 5 easily for 24 under 24. Just saying
— Darren Mattocks (@DarrenMattocks) September 17, 2012
Perhaps the biggest moment of all was Conrad actually attending the Cascadia Cup showdown between the Timbers and Seattle Sounders at JELD-WEN Field on Saturday. There were bagpipes, there was facepaint, there was yelling and as part of his indoctrination to the experience, Conrad became a full fledged member of the Timbers Army, No Pity scarf and all.