The eminent soccer writer Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated spent a good chunk of the preseason asking MLS players about the state of the league. In a recent article, he posted the answers to things like, "Who's the most underrated player in MLS?" and "Who's the most overrated player in MLS?"
Perhaps most interestingly for Portland fans was the question, "If you could play for one MLS team other than yours, what would it be?"
Among the top choices? The Portland Timbers.
Portland also humbly scored high on "Which team has the best MLS stadium atmosphere?" landing up there with Seattle though Wahl goes on to say,
Seattle has bigger numbers (more than 43,000 fans per game), while Portland may have an even harder core.
Read the whole piece here and keep an eye out for Part Two tomorrow.
Two years ago, Portland Timbers midfielder Jack Jewsbury teamed up with Ziba Design to help create a special bag as part of Girls, Inc's annual Power of The Purse fundraiser. You can see video of Jack's creation here.
This year, new Thorns FC head coach Cindy Parlow Cone takes up the challenge in designing a purse. Girls, Inc.--one of the Thorns main Stand Together partners--is an organization that inspires girls, ages 8-18, to be strong, smart, and bold. Via gender-specific programs and research-based curricula, the group provides girls with the confidence and self-esteem to access a bright and economically-independent future.
Cone sat down with Bella, a 7th grader from Da Vinci Middle School and a host of Girls, Inc. Radio, for a special interview where Bella interviews Cindy and then Cindy, in turn, interviews Bella. They talk about their respective background, sisterhood, and inspirations. It's a great listen (scroll to the bottom to hear Cone's interview).
To learn more about the Power of the Purse event and to purchase tickets, visit them here.
From the rainy February of Portland to the snowy fields of the French Football Federation's national training facility in Clairefontaine, Timbers Academy co-director Mike Smith has traveled quite a distance.
Sent as part of a special MLS initiative to broaden league academy and player development, Smith was selected to partake in a extensive Elite Formation Coaching License program that involves close collaboration with the FFF as well as on-site observation and work with Ligue 1 side Paris Saint-Germain.
Freshly arrived in Paris this weekend, Smith was whisked away to the training facility and snapped a few photos:
Got to the French Training center... how amazing! It was snowing here most of the afternoon. We were taken into the local village for savory crepes for dinner with the obligatory red french wine. The scenery is so rustic and cool but we are in the middle of nowhere in the snow! Am staying in Chateau where French Men's National Team stay. I am in Lizarazu's room.
Throughout Smith's stay in France, we'll post updates and photos as they come through.
With just over a week to go befor the Portland Timbers' season opener against New York Red Bulls (Mar. 3, 4:30pm PT, ESPN2 - March to Soccer Opening Match presented by Alaska Airlines), the team has been preparing with a broader approach to their final preseason tournament match against AIK (Feb. 23, 5pm PT, webstream at www.portlandtimbers.com) treating it more as though it were a real league game. Midfielder Will Johnson called it a "dress rehearsal" and that there'd be a definitive emphasis on getting a virtual three points in anticipation of when they're in the fight for an actual three points.
For AIK, the situation is very similar. Long a mainstay of the country's top division Allsvenskan, AIK's season runs a similar spring-to-fall calendar as MLS. After a few preseason games of their own in Oxnard, Calif., the team has been in-residence in Portland for the Timbers preseason tournament. They drew 0-0 to FC Dallas in the opener and held another clean sheet in a 0-0 draw against San Jose Earthquakes in their second match.
Lee Baxter (right) is the team's goalkeeping coach and third 'keeper. In his first stint with the club from 1998-2000, Baxter was part of a team that made it to the Champions League and he played in matches against Arsenal, Barcelona, and Fiorentina. Growing up around soccer his whole life--his father Stuart was a club head coach in Sweden as well as leading the national teams of South Africa and Findland--Baxter has enjoyed a long and diverse soccer career. Now back with AIK, Baxter and I talk about how the team has been experiencing Portland, his hopes for AIK's 2013 season, and the importance of supporter's culture both in the U.S. and Sweden.
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.
Every year, the Portland Timbers take on a veritable army of interns to help across a host of departments. Whether it's public relations, marketing, sponsorship, game operations, soccer operations and everywhere in between, life as a Timbers' intern is rarely boring. Getting to see the inner workings of a Major League Soccer club is an enticing proposition--even if it doesn't pay any money--and former interns have gone on to get jobs with the club, the U.S. Soccer Federation, other MLS teams, and throughout the sporting landscape.
For last winter's PR and marketing intern Mike Ekstrom, however, leaving the Timbers did not entail returning to school. Rather, Ekstrom had another job already lined up that entailed reporting to Oakland A's spring training in Tucson, Ariz. with the club's pitchers and catchers contingent. The Portland, Ore. native who played his high school ball at Barlow High School and college at Oregon State, has spent parts of the last five MLB seasons as a reliever with the San Diego Padres, Tampa Bay Devil Rays, and Colorado Rockies.
"First internship ever," said the 29-year-old Ekstrom, a non-roster reliever in A's camp. "First taste of wearing dress clothes and going downtown and feeling like a real person."
Sharing time between helping organize the Dribble Oregon tour to writing the occasional article for portlandtimbers.com, Ekstrom was able to get a full picture of the inner front office workings of a pro sports franchise.
"It was kind of eye-opening because there was a lot of stuff I took for granted being on a pro sports team, so I have a little bit better perspective of the workings that go on. It was fun seeing all of the moving parts."
Are you looking to be the next Timbers intern? Apply online.
Much like #RCTID, #BAON has taken on an organic, fan-driven evolution. It grew out of a desire to sometimes separate fans’ Thorns Twitter conversations from their Timbers ones. They can certainly overlap and intersect, but on occasion, one is one and one is the other.
But back to #BAON, what’s in a name?
Exactly. For sharp-eyed literate Shakespeare academics, #BAON stands for “By Any Other Name” and is a snippet of a monologue from Romeo and Juliet’s Act II, Scene 2. Romeo, scion of the Montague family has fallen for Juliet, maiden of the sworn enemy Capulets. The famous scene is set is the evening when Romeo comes upon Juliet high atop her balcony. Hidden from her view, he speaks his famous “But soft, what light through yonder window breaks,” monologue singing the praises of her beauty. Her response, which he listens to, laments the fate that should see them be from separated warring families. Were Romeo not a Montague in name, she figures, all her problems would be solved.
What’s Montague? It is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O! Be some other name:
What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name;
And for that name, which is no part of thee,
Take all myself.
In essence, she’s saying, “It’s not the name that should matter, it’s what’s inside that counts.” Juliet is pining for the man, not the name—a romantic wish to be sure.
But for Portland Thorns FC, with their intertwining language and identity with roses and the Rose City being key, the meaning is expanded to become less about the name on the back of the shirt, and more about all being what’s inside the player—the quality of the play and the drive to win.
So be it #BAON or #RCTID, now you'll know where to track your Portland soccer teams' online chatter and discussion.
The Portland Timbers, in conjunction with Alberta Main Street & Art On Alberta, will be unveiling their new primary and secondary kits this February, and as part of the event, are looking for 10 Timbers themed pieces of art to be included in the event.
The unveiling will feature an art exhibition, with the Timbers pieces included in select galleries on Alberta Street in Northeast Portland. If your piece is selected, you will receive an invitation to the event, AND if your work sells, you will receive part of the proceeds, and the Timbers will donate a percentage of the remainder to their Community Fund on your behalf.
How it works
- Design a Timbers inspired piece of art. (If you’ve already created one, great, feel free to submit it)
- Art must not be any larger than 2 feet x 3 feet and fit in a frame (pictures, photos, illustrations, paintings etc. are preferred). Three dimensional art pieces like sculptures will not be included.
- Art must be framed and ready to hang (back wired)
- Please label your artwork on the back
- Art must be received by the Portland Timbers at JELD-WEN Field no later than Wednesday, February 20 at 5 p.m. If you are selected, you will be notified by the Timbers no later than February 25.
If you are interested in participating, please confirm your involvement in advance by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, using the subject line “2013 Kit Unveil.” Please include your full name, contact email and phone number, as well as a brief (2-3 sentence) summary describing your piece.
The Timbers left yesterday for Arizona to continue their 2013 preseason training in Tucson and will take part in a series of matches known as The Desert Friendlies. Hosted by USL Premiere Development League club FC Tucson, the Timbers will play Colorado Rapids, Sporting KC, Seattle Sounders, and FC Tucson all within the course of two weeks.
The Desert Friendlies are part of a month-long Soccerfest that has grown over the past two years in Tucson. Spearheaded by FC Tucson, the month includes a Canada-Denmark--the first international friendly ever held in Tucson--the Desert Diamond Cup tournament, an art show, a film night hosted by the Kicking + Screening Film Festival, and much more.
"Soccer has always been there, under the radar," says Chris Keeney, a co-owner of pro club FC Tucson and one of a handful of people spearheading the push to make Tucson a soccer mecca. "I think people, especially in Tucson, are ready to buy into something they can call their own." Keeney is a recent transplant to Tucson, having come here from Houston, where he worked in marketing and public relations for the NFL's Houston Texans. Prior to that, he spent time in the front office of three different Major League Soccer teams, and he considers Tucson a ripe market for soccer growth.
Plus, with a new stadium in the works for FC Tucson, the soccer continues to increase its footprint out west.
Just prior to Thorns FC announcing their season ticket information today, owner & president Merritt Paulson tweeted about some interesting stats:
Pricing for @thornsfc tix released today. At 5K+ STH deposits now..more than 2010 USL Timbers. I think we can get to 6K STH and avg 10k/gm
— Merritt Paulson (@MerrittPaulson) January 24, 2013
Soccer City, U.S.A. continues to grow.