Interview

08 February 2:48 pm

Throughout the Portland Timbers time in Tucson, MLSsoccer.com had a small squad of crack writers and videographers covering the various MLS teams, preseason friendlies, and more

Among them was Matt Doyle, MLSsoccer.com's Armchair Analyst, who was doing color commentary alongside play-by-play man Jonathan Yardley on the various Timbers matches all throughout The Desert Friendlies series put on by FC Tucson.

A longtime writer focusing on the tactical mysteries of the beautiful game, it has been said by some--probably me--that Doyle keeps a copy of Jonathan Wilson's groundbreaking book Inverting The Pyramid: The History of Football Tactics under his pillow at night. It makes sense given that Doyle is basically the American version of Wilson mixed with Zonal Marking all with a focus on the intricacies of how American soccer--be it MLS, USMNT, or more--actually operates from a tactical standpoint. What's the difference between a 4-4-2 and a 4-3-3 and a 4-2-3-1 and why does it matter? 

While in Tucson with the Timbers, I sat down with Doyle in the team hotel lobby to learn more about how he became the Armchair Analyst, where soccer formational analysis is heading and how we share a common appreciation for the Coen Brothers. 

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.

 

31 January 4:30 pm

Kathryn Williamson - Photo: Univ. of Florida

Earlier this month, the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) held their inaugural College Draft for the new league in Indianapolis. After a weighted draw determined the draft order, Portland Thorns FC selected University of Florida defender Kathryn Williamson with the eighth overall pick. (Read this feature on how she was engaged only a week before the draft. A busy January for her to be sure.)

While in Indianapolis for the 2013 MLS SuperDraft and the NWSL College Draft, I also had the opportunity to attend the Women's Soccer breakfast at the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Convention (NSCAA). The NSCAA is a massive gathering of, yes, coaches, but also soccer gear manufacturers, leaders, players, and more. There's workshops, panels, speeches and gatherings. Basically, it's everything that is anything that is happening in U.S. Soccer at the moment. The Original Winger has a great photo essay and blog post about the NSCAA and its scope in their Portrait of A Sport.

The Women's Soccer breakfast is a celebration of excellence over the past year in the women's game and while there, I just happened to be seated next to Becky Burleigh, head women's soccer coach at the University of Florida and most recently, she coached Williamson for all of the defender's four years in Gainesville. Burleigh started the women's soccer program at Florida in 1994, won an NCAA national championship in 1998, and helped mentor U.S. national team stars Abby Wambach (Western New York Flash) and Heather Mitts (Boston Breakers) as well as Canada's Melanie Booth (Sky Blue FC).

Following the breakfast, I chatted with Becky for a short while about what type of player Kathryn Williamson is, what she thinks she'll bring to the Thorns, and how the NWSL presents a great challenge and opportunity for recent collegiate players. 

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.

 

30 January 10:27 am

Timbers owner and president Merritt Paulson chatted with The Best Soccer Show podcast over at North American Soccer Network with hosts Jason Davis & Jared DuBois about new head coach Caleb Porter, the preseason so far and much more. Give it a listen (or download podcast):

26 December 11:15 am

Adin Brown in 2011 - Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer

After a time of year of giving, it is interesting to hear from a former Portland Timbers player who is now making a career of giving back. Adin Brown started the inaugural MLS match for the Portland Timbers in 2011 as part of a career that included helping lead the New England Revolution to the 2002 MLS Cup final, becoming a fan favorite with Norwegian side Aalesund (where he also scored a goal), to becoming the first ever Timbers Alumni Ambassador of the MLS era. Timbers fans will also be familiar with Brown's voice as he became a regular soccer analyst on Portland radio broadcasts during the 2012 season.

But it is in Brown's post-soccer career that he is perhaps having one of his biggest impacts. A longtime supporter of the Big Brothers Big Sisters program--he was a "Big" early in his career in Colorado--Brown had made appearances on their behalf while a player with the Timbers at their Northwest chapter in Portland. After retiring, Brown approached them about volunteering again and they countered with a job offer to head up their new Sports Buddies program. Sports Buddies helps pair adult mentors with kids around athletic activities.

A natural talker, Brown sat down with me to talk about his time off the pitch, his passion for BBBS Northwest and how he's making a difference in Portland. 

The Backcut Podcast sits at the intersection of Timbers, 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.

 

29 November 10:19 am

Photo via Ohio.com

Now that Caleb Porter's time at the University of Akron is drawing to a close, Marla Ridenour, a sports columnist with the Akron Beacon Journal, sat down with soon-to-be new Portland Timbers head coach to ask him about his time with the Zips, his plans for Portland, and why he made the big move west.

In short, he was looking for a new rush.

The turning point came when he coached the US U-23s national team last spring.

“It gave me a taste of that rush and it’s unlike anything else,” Porter said Wednesday during a half-hour interview in his UA office. “There’s more pressure, but there’s more reward, too. I like that. I like a challenge. I’m not afraid of pressure.

“Even the rush of having to finesse the players, the management. I need that. I need to wake up every day feeling nervous, almost like I’ve got to be at my best, otherwise I get bored. It was very different the way I was feeling; it was like when I came here seven years ago.”

It's an excellent read to learn more into the insight of the new Timbers coach and what makes him tick as well as what his hopes for the future are.

“I try to be the best I can be. I try not to give a day away. I try not to slip,” he said. “In some ways it’s a madness, but that’s the way that I live. I don’t want to look at myself in the mirror at the end of the day and think, ‘I wasn’t good today.’ I try to instill that in my players.

“I’m very uncomfortable being comfortable. I want to grow, I want to get better, I want to push myself, I want to be challenged, I want to feel pressure, I want to wake up every day knowing I have to be at my best. That’s what makes me tick.”

Go read the whole thing at Ohio.com and check out the photo album of Porter in his UA of Akron office as well.

09 November 10:41 am

Dunseth (broadcasting) & Charles (NASL era)

You may recognize the voice of Brian Dunseth as it has become fairly ubiquitous across the American soccer spectrum. A soccer analyst on NBC Sports, Fox Soccer—often paired with our very own John Strong—as well as on Real Salt Lake and FC Dallas games, Dunseth has become a keen observer of Major League Soccer which should come as little surprise given his long playing career in MLS.

The first ever signing to the Project 40 initiative in 1997—now more commonly known as Generation adidas—Dunseth went on to play for the New England Revolution, Miami Fusion, Columbus Crew, Dallas Burn, and Real Salt Lake. After his playing career ended, Dunseth got into broadcasting but also teamed up with his old college teammate from Cal State Fullerton, Ben Hooper, to start a clothing company called Bumpy Pitch that bridges soccer, culture, history, and style. That same theme led their foray into an online “magazine” of sorts called The Original Winger that collects stories about soccer, shoes, watches, fashion, movies, music, and more.

But Dunseth also has a unique affinity to Portland. In 2000, he was the captain of a loaded US Olympic U-23s team that featured the likes of Frankie Hejduk, Ben Olsen, Conor Casey, Danny Califf and Landon Donovan as well as Timbers Alumni Ambassador Adin Brown. The head coach of that team was none other than Timbers legend Clive Charles who had a defining impact on Dunseth as a player and as a person.

In this episode of the Backcut, we talk about soccer in Portland, the influence of Charles both on a personal level and on American soccer, and much more. It’s an illuminating and emotional conversation. 

The Backcut Podcast sits at the intersection of Timbers, 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.

 

15 October 10:05 am

The ever-pensive Alexi Lalas

 

ESPN soccer analyst. U.S. Soccer Hall of Famer. Hermann Trophy winner. One-time general manager of the San Jose Earthquakes, New York/New Jersey MetroStars/Red Bulls, and LA Galaxy. Lover of Slurpees.

These are but a few of the numerous descriptions of Alexi Lalas. The Backcut Podcast took the specially-constructed glass case of emotion on the road recently to Seattle and caught up with the former U.S. World Cup and Serie A star to talk about the changes he's seen in MLS, soccer as performance, the impact Portland has had on the league and more.

You'll also be able to see Lalas tomorrow night as he and his Big Head Red Head Podcast co-host and fellow former USMNT veteran Taylor Twellman will be on hand to broadcast the U.S. national team World Cup qualifier against Guatemala (ESPN2, 4pm PT).
 

The Backcut Podcast sits at the intersection of Timbers, 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.

 

05 October 9:09 am

Who are you? Timbers Army in Seattle

There are Timbers fans everywhere. Portland, Gresham, Bend, New York, New Zealand.

Seattle.

Being a Timbers fan deep in Sounders territory is no easy feat. Do you wear your Timbers kit to Pike Place Market? How do you get down to JELD-WEN Field for games? Are there others out there like you?

We found one. However, he would only agree to an interview if we picked a pseudonym. Settling on the name "Mr. Pine"--chosen after the street of the same name that runs through both downtown Portland and Seattle--I spoke to him about the difficulties of rooting from afar, how often he gets down to Portland for games, and what it's like when the Timbers Army comes north to the Emerald City.

The Backcut Podcast sits at the intersection of Timbers, 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.

27 September 10:00 am

Jimmy Conrad doing his thing

You may have noticed the flood of videos on YouTube from a channel called KICKTV. They have quick summaries of footy related news on The Mixercompilations of all the goals in a week, a show all about soccer equipment called The Gear Show, there's looks into interesting online soccer video clips calle The Whip, and much more.

Perhaps one of the more visible people of this new soccer online channel is host Jimmy Conrad. Conrad, a former MLS All-Star, World Cup veteran for the U.S. national team and one-day member of Real Madrid, takes questions from fans, talks about the sport, and is their go-to guy to go on the road and dig into the interesting fun elements around the culture of soccer. The first big trip they sent him on was Euro 2012 whereupon he watched games in public squares with throngs of Polish fans, played pick up games in farm fields, and gave a unique perspective into the massive tournament.

Most recently, Conrad was in Portland interviewing Merritt Paulson, learning how to chainsaw, attending the Kicking + Screening Film Festival, and becoming a member of the Timbers Army at the huge Portland-Seattle Cascadia Cup rivalry match. 

In the inaugural edition of The Backcut Podcast, I sat down with man-about-town Conrad to learn about what exactly the new YouTube soccer channel KICKTV is, why it matters to soccer fans, and how Jimmy got involved with it.

The Backcut Podcast sits at the intersection of Timbers, 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.

15 September 9:01 am

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.