"Communication, it's everything, on and off the field," Valeri says. "We go on the road and we can't learn. I want to start this month. I have coaching, an English teacher. She teaches me words and sentences, but I want to start. I want to watch films and read books. Only English."
If you want to learn more about what drives new Timbers midfielder Diego Valeri, why he came to MLS ("It's grown. I find a team, a club, MLS, that is spectacular"), how his family is settling into Portland (he's taken his four-year-old daughter, Constanza, to the zoo), how he's bonding with his teammates (he roomed with team captain Will Johnson in Tucson preseason), and how the Argentine is trying harder than ever to bring his English up to the same speed as his silky moves on the pitch (see above), then you must read this excellent feature by Brian Gjurgevich in this week's Portland Mercury. Grab a copy on your nearest street corner to save the artwork and read the piece online right here.
Vince and his family were recipients of the Spread the Love welcome packet for the March 9th match against Montreal.
We asked Vince a few questions about his experience at the match with his son Shaun and two daughters Alexis and McKenna:
What is your relationship to the Spread the Love ambassador?
“Suite Sue” Simpson was our ambassador. She actually gave the “welcome” packet to Neal Harrington, who unfortunately was unable to attend the match due to a last minute work conflict. In turn, Neal really embraced the “Spread the Love” mantra and shared the packet with my family.
What were you most looking forward to about attending a Timbers match?
We had never been to a Timber's game before so anticipation was high on what to expect. The kids really wanted to see Timber Joey!
What was your favorite part of the match?
The kids enjoyed watching how the game was played, the intricacies of the sport and how quickly and skillfully the players moved on and around the field.
Have you ever been to a match? If so, what was the last time you attended?
No, this was the first Timber's game we had been to. It was cool experience and very exciting.
What was your reaction when you received the "welcome" packet?
It was great - we were excited about everything. We were all very excited that we had an opportunity to go!
Interested in nominating a deserving fan? You can, here. Recipients will be selected shortly for the two Timbers home matches in April.
Timbers Academy co-director wrapped up his trip to France as part of a special MLS partnership with the French Football Federation. After partaking in a number of classes at the FFF's Clarefontaine national training center, Smith was able to spend some time with Ligue 1's Paris St. Germain to observe their academy system.
The PSG website had an article about the Smith and the other MLS Academy coaches (FRENCH) but Smith's time there also included some opportunities to see the French club's first team in action as well as their dramatic UEFA Champions League victory over Spain's Valencia:
Started observation week at PSG and got tickets to see their away game at Reims who were near bottom of the French table. PSG lost 1-0 to 10 men. Great atmosphere of sell out 25,000 but not like JELD-WEN!
Met with the PSG Academy Director and head coaches and watched their U19 and U17’s train today. There was a unique session for 30 minutes on the beach soccer court they have next to their field to help improve their team strength. Today was the only day of the week that they do daily double, which was interesting to see the workload.
In between sessions we got to tour their residential facility and eat lunch in their player’s cafeteria. Tomorrow we are heading back to their regional training center to see the U15 Parisian Region play which includes 8 PSG players and 3 players from Clairefontaine--French Federation Residency program.
After that, we are heading to the Champions League game, PSG v Valencia! It has been an incredible trip so far and very worthwhile.
Big matches mean big tifo and this Saturday's Cascadia Cup rivalry match between Portland and Seattle should be no different (5pm PT, NBC Sports, 750 AM The Game / La Pantera 940). MLSsoccer.com takes a look at some of the past iterations of Portland and Seattle supporter-created tifo.
Wear headphones. Turn volume up to 11. Watch the video.
Sometimes that which is local goes global. This is particularly true of the culture of soccer and how it can reach around the world. For the Timbers and their fans, there is a special bond between supporter and club. One area where this is particularly true is how many Portland season ticket holders reach out to the club via their season ticket holder services representative to share their stories about their travels and experiences as a fan.
Case in point: season ticket holder Sean Ingersoll reached out to Timbers ticket services manager Leigh Calvert about his travels in Africa with some great pictures; pictures that had a particular Cascadian bent. An avid soccer player himself, Ingersoll and his friends have often challenged themselves to play soccer in remote environments. And when I say remote, I mean places like, Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania.
Ingersoll picks up the story:
Some friends and I decided it would be fun to go to Tanzania and climb Kilimanjaro. We have all played on the same GPSD adult soccer team, FC77 Rangers, and we try to play soccer in some unique environments. In 2010 we climbed to the top of South Sister and had a 3v3 match in the snow-filled crater at 10,300’…which was awesome. This year we decided to go to Africa and climb the mountain with Zara Tours, maybe even kick a ball around on the top. Zara sponsors several charity projects in Tanzania, including an orphanage in Moshi. We thought it would be a decent gesture to bring some school supplies and soccer gear so we passed the word around to our kid’s soccer teams, friends, co-workers and the effort just exploded. I think we collected over 250 lbs. of paper, notebooks, pens, 50-ish pairs of used and new soccer boots, balls, pumps, socks, etc. So we paid for the extra baggage and shipped all of the goods with us to Tanzania for the kids at the orphanage. We met the kids and teachers--it was an incredible experience.
In the top picture, Jim Snyder and I are both from Portland and Timbers fans. My buddy Shawn Mulqueeney is from Issaquah and is a Sounders fan. I suggested we bring our scarves for a summit picture and he agreed that would be fun. About two days into the climb, we got out a soccer ball and invited the porters to kick around with us (middle picture). The elevation was 12,800’. What was amazing about that was the mood of the climb seemed to change after that, from clients/porters to friends. Ah, the power of football. We summited on the third day, got out the scarves, and proved that Cascadia has the best and most hard-core soccer fans around. I did have a ball in my summit pack, but I could barely lift my foot more than 3” to take the next step, much less juggle or head a ball. One kick and I’m certain it would have rolled all the wall back down to the Kenyan border! So we hung out with the glaciers for about twenty minutes, took our pictures, and came back down.
Between stoking a rivalry around the world as well as making a difference in a foreign community, Ingersoll is clearly having an impact. Got a story of your own Timbers fandom from around the world? Send us a note at email@example.com.
Saturday’s featured Portland Timbers Food Cart Alliance member is Nong’s Khao Man Gai. Nong’s will be serving their signature chicken and rice dish with their famous ginger/soybean chili sauce as well as fried chicken wings smothered in Nong’s sweet chili glaze at the Soccer City Grill concession stand located in JELD-WEN Field's southeast corner above Section 93.
But beyond all the delicious food, soccer holds a special place in the heart of Nong. Originally from Thailand, she talks about her love of soccer and excitement at being a part of a Timbers match:
I grew up playing soccer. I was a foward. Soccer is very big in Thailand, not very big for women but I could not get in other kinds of sports teams. Training for soccer has changed my life and how I look at sports. It has taught me so much as a person. Portland is a great city with a variety of people. I want the Timbers fans to experience some really good food from Bangkok. We use good ingredients and strive to be the best. We all have something in common: we love soccer!
Interested in being part of the Portland Timbers Food Cart Alliance? Apply today.
Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated, fresh from his revealing MLS player polls, recently put together a grand list of the 50 most important people in U.S. Soccer. It has many of the names you'd expect. The top 5 are, in order: U.S. Sports TV executives, U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati, MLS commissioner Don Garber, Nike and adidas.
Of local note though are two rather big names. Coming in at No. 9 is Thorns FC forward Alex Morgan of which Wahl writes:
Let's be honest: the 23-year-old Morgan has everything it takes (on the field and off) to become the next Mia Hamm. Just one example of her appeal: Morgan has in excess of a million Twitter followers, more than any U.S. soccer player, male or female.
Young owners who live and die with their MLS teams, Heineman and Paulson are the faces of MLS 2.0 and the league's answers to Mark Cuban. If only every league owner cared as much.
Head over to SI.com to read the full list. Any names missing you think should be on there? Any names on there you disagree with?
With the unique Spread The Love campaign off and running, we wanted to introduce a few of the lucky folks who were able to experience their first ever Timbers match last week. And what a game to kick things off? A tremendous rendition of the national anthem, excellent tifo, loads of goals, and a thrilling comeback. What more could you ask for?
Without further ado, here's the first group of worthy recipients.
Jeff Enquist, President of PYSA & head coach of Portland City United is one of the first group of 107 Ambassadors. He’s coached in high school, college and the pros and gave his tickets to one of his employees, Sonko. Sonko grew up playing soccer in Kenya and started a club soccer program for kids aged 6-8 there. In short, soccer is Sonko's life.
“Timber Jim” Serrill--the original lumberjack who sawed logs in the North End--is also the charismatic gent who popularlized the phrase “Spread the Love” from which this whole idea originally sprang. An embodiment of Timbers passion, Timber Jim gave his tickets to young Karina. Karina battled through leukemia when she was 4--it's now in remission--and met Jim through the Leukemia Foundation. She had never been to a Timbers game before. Needless to say, she was very excited.
Rachel Harrison, another 107 Ambassador is an active community volunteer, Timbers Army supporter and committed season ticket holder. She met her friend Jessica at her church. Jessica's son plays club soccer in Portland and had never been to a match before either. Sunday's match was his first and was an instant classic.
Do you know someone whom you think is worthy? Visit www.spreadtheloveptfc.com to nominate someone you know in your community.
Montreal Impact midfielder and Québec native Patrice Bernier is quite familiar with Timbers midfielder Will Johnson. The two have played side by side on the Canadian national team for years with Bernier having 49 caps The Canucks to Johnson's 31. Now set to face off this Saturday in Portland at JELD-WEN Field (7:30pm, KPTV, 750 AM The Game / La Pantera 940), Bernier spoke to impactmontreal.com about his national teammate:
“He’s a guy that gives 100% all the time and you see that on the pitch,” added Bernier. “They brought him in because they know that he sets the tone. Training, games… I think that’s why their coach named him captain. He always brings that competitive edge.”
Check out the article over on the Impact site and be sure to watch the two go head-to-head on Saturday.
Portland Timbers Academy co-director Mike Smith continues his time in France through an elite level training course as part of a special partnership between MLS and the French Football Federation. Here's his latest update.
Today was more sport psychology, and they introduced game analysis and charting, which we put into practice as we got to watch their first year students play in a game. They are born in 1999 and they played a friendly against another youth pro team. The 99’s won 6-0 and were impressive! A number of top European Scouts were there too.
We also watched the Parisian Center of Excellence players (1998’s) training. They did well and have certainly looked to play an attractive attacking style of football ever since we arrived here. This was the third time we have seem them train on different themes.
The photos are the statue they have of the world cup they won in 1998, the 1999’s (in red) in their game this afternoon and the French Sports Scientist showing us the data they were tracking by heart monitors and GPS of their young players…
The final one is the designated first team (National Team) pitch where finally the snow is melting. It is reserved only for the National Team and is in pristine condition. The Chateau where we are staying overlooks it. The field is so well kept, that it has electric wire about it to keep out the wild boars!