Yesterday it was all about Portland being among the Top Cities in America due in part to the presence of the Portland Timbers.
Today in "Best of" Lists, Bleacher Report takes a look at the 15 Coolest Club Logos in World Football. Here are a few to get you started:
How many do you recognize? There's at least one more in there that should be familiar which "[symbolizes] not only their club, but the entire state of Oregon with [a] logo and its homage to the logging tradition of the area."
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 Mixer, compilations 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.
MLS released today, perhaps for the first time ever, the top 25 selling jerseys across the league. The Timbers are one of five teams with multiple players in the top 25: Darlington Nagbe and Kris Boyd.
The list below, which includes sales from March 10-Sept. 10, reflects the 25 top-selling adidas MLS player jerseys across the league on MLSgear.com, MLSgearCanada.ca and MLS club websites.
1. David Beckham - LA Galaxy
2. Thierry Henry - New York Red Bulls
3. Landon Donovan - LA Galaxy
4. Fredy Montero - Seattle Sounders FC
5. Dwayne De Rosario - D.C. United
6. Chris Wondolowski - San Jose Earthquakes
7. Tim Cahill - New York Red Bulls
8. Robbie Keane - LA Galaxy
9. Mauro Rosales - Seattle Sounders FC
10. Brian Ching - Houston Dynamo
11. Darlington Nagbe - Portland Timbers
12. Chris Pontius - D.C. United
13. Osvaldo Alonso - Seattle Sounders FC
14. Young-Pyo Lee - Vancouver Whitecaps FC
15. Kris Boyd - Portland Timbers
16. Barry Robson - Vancouver Whitecaps FC
17. Eddie Gaven - Columbus Crew
18. Brad Davis - Houston Dynamo
19. Roger Torres - Philadelphia Union
20. Freddy Adu - Philadelphia Union
21. Kei Kamara - Sporting Kansas City
22. Kyle Beckerman - Real Salt Lake
23. Mike Magee - LA Galaxy
24. Saer Sene - New England Revolution
25. Arne Friedrich - Chicago Fire
Want to get yours? Head over to the adidas Timbers Team Store and order online. Also, don't forget to vote for Nagbe to be on the custom cover of EA Sports' FIFA 13.
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
As is well known by now, Caleb Porter will be the Timbers new head coach beginning in 2013. After a stellar career at the University of Akron, an NCAA national championship, buckets full of talented players who went on to MLS--including our own Darlington Nagbe, a slip up with the US U-23s and Olympic qualifying, and one final year with the Zips, Porter has decided to make the jump to the next level.
MLSsoccer.com's Jonah Freedman talks about what he calls "The Fraternity" of college coaches who made the same leap and the challenges they face:
The 37-year-old Porter will join [Schellas] Hyndman, Bruce Arena, Thomas Rongen and Sigi Schmid. Those four have among them six MLS Cups, five Supporters’ Shields, five US Open Cups and seven MLS Coach of the Year awards among a laundry list of other accomplishments.
No pressure, right? By now, no one should be crying that college coaches don’t have the chops to make the jump directly to the pros. That quartet is clear proof they do.
Freedman goes on to explore what that pressure is like and how some of that quartet dealt with it to become successful in MLS.
Last weekend, my wife dragged me out to a massive—and I mean MASSIVE—antique show in North Portland. Two full expo center halls plus and outdoor soccer pitch’s worth of tents filled with sellers of all manner of knick-knacks, furniture, vintage toys, prints and the like.
While I was on the hunt for nothing in particular, I found myself drawn to tables with old postcards and photographs. It was here that I began to uncover fun little elements of soccer history.
At one table, the merchant had three-ring binders of old photos. In one overflowing tome simply labeled, “Sports,” were random photos of soccer clubs from Prague in the 1930s.
I was particularly drawn to a collection of six photos labeled, “Sparta ABA vs. Heidelberg SC, National Cup, 1936.” Underneath each club is “Chicago” for Sparta and “Pitsburg, PA” (sic) for Heidelberg. A few Google clicks later revealed that Sparta ABA stood for Sparta Athletic and Benevolent Association. Wikipedia tells us that Sparta ABA, aka Chicago Sparta was founded by Czech immigrants in 1917.
The National Cup referred to in the photos is, in fact, the now more commonly known Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Wikipedia gets a bit vague here, but best I can make out, the pictures are from the Western Division National Cup semi-finals which Heidelberg won 2-1. Wikipedia lists a Sparta Garden City of Chicago playing Heidelberg but given the photo, I’m inclined to believe Wikipedia meant Sparta ABA.
My score of the day, however, came just as the whole show was finishing up. Tucked behind some old Muppets pint classes and other plastic toys was an early-year MLS soccer ball from at least 1997. Adorned with numerous now defunct logos of Miami Fusion FC, San Jose Clash, Tampa Bay Mutiny, and old skool New York/New Jersey MetroStars, I talked the guy down to $10.
While I expected to find old baseball mitts, balls and bats—and I did—it’s clear there’s a rich historical soccer memorabilia world out there. eBay is full of vintage goodies. For Father’s Day, my family got me an NASL Portland Timbers pennant off of eBay. Surprisingly when I opened it, however, it turned out the seller made a switcheroo mistake. I opened a triangular shaped box to find a pennant for the Edmonton Drillers. Presumably, there was an equally confused father opening his present in Alberta.
Want to find other random bits of soccer lore? Soccer blog KCKRS.com has a whole feature dedicated to it called “Treasures of eBay.” From Pink Floyd soccer kits, to a signed 1979 Minnesota Kicks ball, to a team autographed USWNT baseball, it’s all here.
What random bit of soccer history do you cherish? Let us know in the comments below or email us a pic at thebackcut(at)portlandtimbers.com.
With the Timbers looking ahead to Saturday's match with Colorado Rapids (6pm PT, KPDX TV, Timbers Television Network; 750 AM The Game / La Pantera 940), many corners of the media are still talking about the incredible environment on display last Sunday in Portland's 2-1 victory over Seattle Sounders FC.
The Portland Business Journal took a look at how MLS worked to promote the game on a national scale and how they're looking to further expand rivalries across the league.
Today, The Guardian in England published a great examination of the constant game of tifo one-upsmanship between the Timbers Army and Seattle's Emerald City Supporters. With the Timbers Army's massive banner fresh in Portland fan's minds, Graham Parker writes,
[As] the latest banner was raised, and the latest visual gauntlet laid down, it was hard not to respect the sheer dedication and commitment the Timbers Army had put in to honoring one of their club legends [Clive Charles] this Sunday, whatever the origins of the art form in the US. Multiple hundreds of hours of labor go into producing an image that may appear only momentarily, but that has the potential to leave an indelible memory.
Speaking of the hundreds of hours of work put into creating the tifo, be sure to watch this Friday's June 29 Timbers in 30 (6:30pm PT, Fox 12 Oregon) as they'll have a special behind-the-scenes look into how the latest banner was constructed.
The Sporting News sent ace soccer writer Brian Straus here on Sunday to cover the Cascadia Cup battle. Calling the rivalry "among the most intense in American sport," Straus goes in-depth to try to figure out why our corner of the country has bred such an undying competition between the two communities. Comparing the Portland-Seattle clash to other rivalries from around the world doesn't quite work as its roots lie in a different area.
The Glasgow neighbors are divided by religion -- the Protestants support Rangers and the Catholics back Celtic. Elsewhere around the world, great (and occasionally violent) soccer rivalries revolve around politics, economics or geography. In the Pacific Northwest, it’s about civic identity.
Want to know more about how that civic identity operates within the larger ideal of what the very term "Cascadia" means? Portland Monthly's Martin Patail goes behind the deeper concept of the term and how "The Doug"--the green-white-blue flag with the massive Doug Fir emblazoned in the center that can be seen flying at all matches between Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver--is really part of a bigger discussion about a region's "independent state of mind."
It's clear the Cascadia ideal and rivalry therein--be it on the field or off--is stronger than ever.
John Strong, voice of the Portland Timbers, headed out east a little ahead of the team this week as he travels to Kansas City to make his national broadcast debut on the NBC Sports Network. Calling the Midwest rivalry game between Sporting Kansas City and Chicago Fire at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park on Friday evening at 5pm PT, Strong will be joined in the booth with former MLS player and Olympian Brian Dunseth.
Friday’s match is the first of five matches Strong will call with Dunseth for NBC Network and he is already adjusting to the KC heat.
Greetings from Kansas City! Where it's officially 49 degrees warmer than when I left my house this morning! twitter.com/StrongMLS/stat…
— John Strong (@StrongMLS) June 27, 2012
Soccer fans will undoubtedly recognize Strong on Friday and they should also be familiar with Dunseth who is the main soccer analyst for Real Salt Lake broadcasts as well as having been an analyst with Fox Soccer. It will be a great rivalry match to watch with a familiar voice to help guide the way. Keep an eye on @StrongMLS and @BP_TOW on Twitter for updates from the road.
adidas Soccer unveiled a new ad this morning online touting their revolutionary miCoach Smart Soccer system. Set to debut on Saturday during the Chelsea-Bayern Munich Champions League Final on FOX, the ad features a starring role for Timbers midfielder/forward Darlington Nagbe alongside fellow co-star, the Timbers Army.
Filmed in part during the Timbers 1-0 win over Sporting Kansas City last month, there are also appearances by some other guys.
After shooting footage during the Timbers-SKC match, the adidas crew spent the next day utilizing locker rooms and other areas inside JELD-WEN Field to shoot the players' individual scenes. Check it out:
Got a story, tip, soccer tidbit to share? Send it in to thebackcut (at) portlandtimbers.com.
With the Houston Dynamo opening their new BBVA Compass Stadium this weekend, MLSsoccer.com takes a look at some of the most memorable MLS stadium debuts.
With all due respect to our Canadian neighbors in Toronto, and the Midwestern folks in Kansas City, the JELD-WEN Field opening takes the cake. Beyond that, though, the opening of Houston's new field marks another development in the growth of soccer-specific stadiums in MLS.
And it's another great stadium to watch a match. Give Armchair Analyst Matthew Doyle's Three for Thursday a read and then re-live the House of Pane opening.
What are some of your favorite memories at JELD-WEN Field?
Got a story, tip, soccer tidbit to share? Send it in to thebackcut (at) portlandtimbers.com.