"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.
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.
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!
Longtime Timbers fans from the USL era may remember midfielder Troy Ready. The former University of Washington standout played three seasons for the Timbers and was had a huge presence in the club's community outreach programs.
By 2011, Ready had traveled halfway around the world to combine his abilities on the soccer pitch with his love of helping other people. Moving to Qurghonteppa, Tajikistan, Ready began work with the Millennium Relief and Development Services non-profit organization while playing for FK Vakhsh.
YanksAbroad.com catches up with him and talks about how it all came about.
"In 2005 I was invited to play on a professional soccer tour with a team called Ambassadors in Sport," Ready explained. "It was a compilation of several past and current players playing against Tajikistan's National team, Olympic team, and also they flew Afghanistan's national team to the country."
So in the midst of being there and seeing all of the opportunities football may unlock, it ended up being a good opportunity. And over the course of the next six years we made slow steps to moving ourselves and our family and making that our new home."
After establishing himself with FK Vakhsh, Ready worked with a number of American youth clubs that specialize in soccer development internationally. That, combined with his FK Vakhsh experience eventually landed him the job of the national team technical director. Never one to shy away from a challenge, the head coaching position at FK Vakhsh opened up recently and Ready has an eye towards taking that on along with his national team work.
"I've been in contact with the federation again. The former head coach of Vakhsh left to coach a different team up in the north," said Ready. "So, I'm putting my name in the hat for taking over as the head coach of Vakhsh along with the national team responsibilities and overseeing some of the youth clubs. "
In the end though, Ready has always been interested in humanitarian efforts along with the football aspect of his job. The former Husky is excited for his unique and rewarding opportunity in central Asia.
"It will be busy but it's something that I love to do, and it's a great platform beyond the football side of things," Ready went on to say. "There's just so many platforms for life and community development that have opened up as a result of coaching and playing It's a great platform beyond the football field."
The ever popular Portland Timbers Food Cart Alliance (PTFCA) makes its return this Sunday as the Portland Timbers kick-off the 2013 MLS season against the New York Red Bulls (Mar. 3, 4:30pm PT, ESPN2, 750AM The Game). Begun last year, the PTFCA invites Portland-area food carts to take over the Soccer City Grill in the southeast corner of JELD-WEN Field just above Section 93. Last season saw delicious Hawaiian food, fish & chips, and a whole slew of mouthwatering goodness. This season the carts return and will be at every Timbers and Thorns match throughout the 2013 season.
Following a fan vote in the offseason, the first set of carts are locked in. See the schedule here and keep an eye out for the next fan vote in April.
The first food cart for 2013 is an apt one: Timber’s Doghouse PDX. Timber’s Doghouse is serving a variety of its signature tot bowls made with gourmet seasoned tatter tots with classic toppings such as bacon, grilled onions, and cheddar cheese. And yes, it is run by a person who's real name is Timber, Timber Adamson to be exact. She had this to say about her cart and it's presence at JELD-WEN Field:
"My dream to own a food cart began during my time in culinary school. I knew I wanted to work on my own but did not want the debt of a large restaurant. This was back before people really knew anything about food carts. There was just 2 carts downtown at 9th & Alder.
I love making people delicious food and seeing them enjoy it. Simple as that. Working as an executive chef in fine dining had its creative culinary moments, but there was a disconnect between the food and the experience As a food cart owner, I have the freedom to be creative as well as the joy of interacting with my patrons.
I'm eagerly anticipating my first Timbers game! Although hearing 20,000 fans chant my name could be odd."
Are you a Portland-area food cart that wants to get involved? Check out the details here.
The Portland Timbers get into the act with a unique event this week at Last Thursday on NE Alberta in Portland. Long a bastion of art galleries and creativity, the Timbers will unveil their new primary and secondary kits as part of the art show Green & Gold: A Tribute to the Portland Timbers.
Along with players Diego Valeri and Ryan Johnson being on hand to present the new kits, curator Chris Haberman has put together a show that features original artwork created by fans and inspired by Timbers soccer. Spread across the galleries of NE Alberta, The Talisman and Best Art Gallery will have the bulk of the show and each will be for sale to the public with proceeds split between the artists and the Portland Timbers Community Fund. Other participating galleries include Guardino, Six Days Art Co-Op, Screaming Sky, Antler & Make House and the Red Rover trailer. Hop on the ever popular pedicabs and buzz up and down the street to see them all.
Haberman will also have a large mural piece of his own that fans will be invited to help contribute to and will be installed at JELD-WEN Field for the 2013 season.
Following the jersey unveiling, staff from the adidas Timbers Team Store will be on hand to start selling the new primary and secondary kits.