“It’s a dream come true,” Radovcic said. “You play soccer, you go through college, and you’re like, ‘I really want to play after college,’ but only a few people are fortunate enough to be able to play after college. So to be selected in the draft, to that team, I am just so speechless and so grateful.”
Those are the words of Thorns FC forward/midfielder Nicolette Radovcic who just a few months ago was a marketing intern with the New York Red Bulls helping out at Red Bull Arena's Interactive Zone. The Rockaway, NJ native had 30 goals and 16 assists in four seasons at the University of Central Florida before being drafted by Portland 16th overall.
NewYorkRedBulls.com's Frank Della Femina has a nice profile of the new Thorns pick and how she's excited to jump from the Red Bulls to the new NWSL.
The adventures of the Portland Timbers on tour for Dribble Oregon 2013 continued yesterday with Danny Mwanga, Eric Alexander and myself venturing into the snow and ice of Klamath Falls. Our furthest trip on this year’s tour was made easy thanks to JELD-WEN. Our flight was amazing due to the inversion forcing the clouds into the valley and exposing all the mountains of the cascades to those above 5,000 feet. Mt. Hood, Jefferson, Broken Top, Three Finger Jack, the Three Sisters, Bachelor, Diamond and Crater Lake were all crystal clear in the sunshine, and entertained us on the trip south. This trip marked the third clinic the Timbers have put on in Klamath Falls. The fans there are great and continuously show their support by wearing Timbers green.
The boys started the day with two clinics teaching kids, ages 5-12, passing, dribbling and shooting skills. I'm not sure who wore out who, as both the coaches and kids seemed out of breath following each clinic. Questions from kids ranged from "Who's your favorite player?" to "Why do you like soccer?" All in all, it was a fun time for everyone with lots of laughs.
Our pub stop was back at the Creamery for the second year in a row. The Creamery is a large brew pub with a fire place, couches and great food. As much as I try to avoid gluten and dairy, I couldn't help but order their mac and cheese wedges. They are amazing and I can't stop talking about them (I may have a problem.) It was great to see familiar faces from years past and other stops on this year’s current tour. Andrew and Dalton came up from Shasta, CA for the Medford stop and then met us again at the Creamery. The meet and greet session brought tons of questions and answers that showcased the guys’ personalities. The room filled with laughter when Danny and Eric danced Danny's goal celebration dance, and then filled with applause when Danny explained that his mom was his hero. Both guys explained that they are very proud to be Portland Timbers and are looking forward to playing under Coach Porter. One more stop on this year’s trip. Looking forward to Astoria on Saturday. I hope to see you there!
New Thorns FC goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc is no wallflower. Personable, charismatic, and fearless in asking anyone for an interview, she is currently with the Canadian Women's National Team in China at the Yongchuan Cup.
Frustrated by her Canadian and now Thorns FC teammate Christine Sinclair coming in last amongst Asian voters in the recent Ballon d'Or voting, LeBlanc went to the streets of Yongchuan with her famous KK Cam to help spread the good word of the merits of Ms. Sinclair.
I have a feeling we'll be seeing some more of KK Cam in the Portland Thorns FC future.
Medford is a great town. Full of history and nature. We planted trees with Friends of Trees Saturday morning along Bear Creek, a tributary of the mighty Rogue River. The trees that we planted will shade the creek keeping it cool for salmon as they spawn. We even planted a few wild roses hoping they bring luck to our new team.
Our clinic was busy with Timbers fans and future stars. I was worn out from kicking and chasing soccer balls with the kids. My former rodeo traveling partner surprised me with his son at the camp. It was great to catch up with him and see his son running around with the coaches.
Sometime during the autograph session I noticed Jake's accent had turned from Kiwi to kind of Russell Brandish English. I confronted him about it in Eugene the next night and he confirmed that it was true though he did not know why. I am sure there are pictures floating around of David sticking his tongue out at a little girl. I can attest that he did not start this battle nor did he win. Best set of questions at the clinic, "Why is soccer so hard?" asked by a young male participant followed by, "Why is soccer so easy?" asked by the girl who beat David.
Finally time to relax at 4 Daughters Irish Pub. We met with fans from as far away as Shasta City, CA.
I enjoyed the bus ride to Eugene though I'm not sure the rest of the group did as I sang along to all the songs from Rock of Ages. Thankfully Jake helped me with some of the duets.
Eugene's tree planting was a completely opposite experience from the day before. We planted pine trees in a grass lot formerly used as a gravel parking lot. It was quite the struggle to get the holes dug but today there are nine new trees making the lot look more like a park.
Kick City is a great indoor facility with two fields a soccer store and a pub complete with TVs that happened to be showing the NFL Playoffs. We were entertained the entire time. Eugene taught me one thing, I am not and will never be a goalie. I took shots to my chest, legs and head (thankfully protected by a helmet) that I never saw coming and I have finally admitted to myself that I am indeed "sluggish." If I recall correctly David took a good shot as he was playing out of position. Thankfully there was time to relax following the sessions as we signed autographs and took pictures with all the kids.
After the clinic it was off to The Old Pad. Another great pub full of Timbers fans. My cousin Kindy came down to surprise me! It was great to see her and all the Timbers Army Echo Squadron. There we learned that both Jake and David had great first cars, are looking forward to playing under Coach Porter and were happy to bring the Cascadia Cup to Portland where it belongs.
Dribble Oregon, presented by JELD-WEN Windows & Doors, continued it's tour throughout the state this past weekend with stops in Medford and Eugene. Trees were planted with the help of Friends of Trees, Jake Gleeson and David Horst took part in free soccer clinics with local youth, Timber Joey welcomed one and all, and supporters were able to meet-and-greet with players and staff at local pubs.
Take a look back at the road trip, learn a bit about the players, and then visit the Timbers Facebook page for more photos. Dribble Oregon rolls on this Wednesday to Klamath Falls. Participate in the fun on Twitter with hashtag #DribbleOregon.
On the way to Medford for my first stop of dribble Oregon. Looking forward to the weekend. Hope to see there#DribbleOregon
— Jacob gleeson (@Jgleeson20) January 12, 2013
— Joey Webber (@TimberJoey) January 12, 2013
— Portland Timbers (@TimbersFC) January 13, 2013
— joelcarrick (@joelcarrick) January 13, 2013
— Friends of Trees (@FriendsofTrees) January 14, 2013
— Portland Timbers (@TimbersFC) January 14, 2013
— Joey Webber (@TimberJoey) January 14, 2013
— Beth Atkerson (@NWsoccerMom) January 14, 2013
Had a great time this weekend meeting timbers fans in Medford and Eugene. Great people and great fans. Thank youall!. #DribbleOregon
— Jacob gleeson (@Jgleeson20) January 14, 2013
— Lindsay Weber (@LindsayAdaire) January 14, 2013
— TA Echo Squadron (@TAEchoSquad) January 14, 2013
Followers of City Hall may remember that a friendly Twitter wager was placed last season between the three Cascadia Cup mayors of Portland's Sam Adams, Seattle's Mike McGinn, and Vancouver's Gregor Robertson. The stakes were simple: the mayors of the two losing MLS teams had to wear the Cascadia Cup victor's team jersey.
While the jury is still out on Vancouver, Seattle's Mayor McGinn fulfilled his end of the bargin over the holiday break:
Here's hoping that Cascadia Cup stays right here in the Rose City in 2013.
While Brent Richards, Darlington Nagbe and more were busy during the offseason, centerback Hanyer Mosquera has been keeping busy as well. Spending his offseason in his hometown of Istima, Colombia, Mosquera and his family helped organize a local soccer tournament for high school aged kids and outfitted two teams: Amigos de Hanyer Los Verdes and Amigos de Hanyer Los Rojos.
Naturally, the kits should have a familiar look to Timbers fans.
Done in conjunction with the local mayor, Mosquera says that he helps put together the tournament--now in it's fourth year--so kids can see that "it's possible to be a professional player."
"We hope that every year, we make it a little bit better," Mosquera added. "It's a short tournament that people enjoy but also brings me a lot of happiness. We're just helping bring my hometown a game that they love."
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.
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.
Surrounded by family, friends, former players, current players, university staff, and fans, Caleb Porter had an emotional farewell to his University of Akron community last night in a special goodbye ceremony on campus. The Akron Beacon Journal's Maria Ridenour was on hand to write about it:
University of Akron President Luis Proenza began coughing midway through his tribute to departing men’s soccer coach Caleb Porter on Wednesday night at InfoCision Stadium, prompting a member of the catering staff to deliver water to the podium.
“It’s not my throat, it’s my emotion,” Proenza said.
Those feelings eventually overcame Proenza. While recalling the celebration after UA captured the school’s first team national championship in Santa Barbara, Calif., in 2010, Proenza said Porter gathered his players and delivered “one of the most impassioned, emotional communications of teamwork and family that I’ve heard.”
Recalling the scene and Porter’s words, Proenza broke down and cried.
“I don’t know why, it’s been two years,” Proenza said as Porter came onto the riser to hug him.
Even after the two-hour event ended, Proenza couldn’t explain what had happened, barely able to choke out a few words about the special bond he felt with Porter.
Watch the powerful moment in question at the 4:50 mark:
With Darlington Nagbe scheduled to get married on Saturday in Cleveland, he came to the event along with numerous MLS players including Seattle's Steve Zakuani, Houston's Kofi Sarkodie, and more. Calling all of his current, former, and any past Zip players up with him to the podium, Porter was gracious and emotional.
"This program has a long tradition of excellence," he said. "It’s bigger than any coach, any player."
It is clear that Porter had a tremendous impact on numerous individuals both on and off the field and established a dedicated spirit of energy and success while in Akron.
That spirit is one that his successor, Jared Embick, will now takeover having been elevated from assistant coach to head coach. The New York Times Goal blog delves into that challenge and Akron's hope of continued success.
But as Porter and Akron turn the page on his time there, Portland remains ever eager on his Rose City arrival.