Make sure your scarf is clean, because the Timbers are mere hours away from making their Major League Soccer debut at 6 p.m. Saturday against the Colorado Rapids.
And while it's still just soccer to some, it's also a new chapter for a Portland franchise steeped in a storied history; cheered on by fans heard on both athletic and political playing-fields and bickered about by those who control the city's purse-strings.
And it's shaping up to be an interesting season — both on and off the pitch — as Portland's second big-league sports team attempts to capture the city's attention and build on a teeming soccer culture. But questions remain: Will the don't-call-us-expansion Timbers defy expectations typically reserved for first-year MLS clubs? (They very well could.) Will left-leaning Portlanders buy into the atmosphere at corporate-friendly Jeld-Wen Field? (Have you been to a Blazer game lately? People wave their [Wells Fargo] credit cards in the air for a chance to win another credit card.) Will Timbers Army behave itself enough not to scare away the kiddies? (TBD July 10.)
I had more questions, so I moseyed over to the team's practice facility in Beaverton on Thursday for a final chance to grab some sound before the Timbers jetted to Denver to prepare for the defending MLS champs. And although the practice was officially closed, coach John Spencer and his players were open and relaxed as all the build-up and preparation nears fruition.
Hop over to the jump for some genuine *audio* recordings of Spencer's presser and a pair of one-on-ones with Timbers captain Jack Jewsbury (quite the trickster) and potential breakout Jeremy Hall (quite the foodie). Also, EXTRA TIME with lots of links to distract yourself from choosing which scarf to wear.
First, some sound.
Timbers captain Jack Jewsbury — The team's elder statesman talks about pulling pranks on new teammates, adjusting to life in Portland and his first trip to Voodoo Donut:
Jewsbury, Part Two-sbury — Captain Jack talks about getting chills during his first game in a Timbers uniform and shows his Captain-y chops by offering a diplomatic take on his former team (Sporting KC) signing NFL star (and former Oregon State Beaver) Chad Ochocinco:
Midfielder Jeremy Hall — Picked by Sports Illustrated as a Top-10 potential breakout this year, the 22-year old talks about the locker-room vibe, his favorite spots to eat in town and the Rose City's fashion style vs. The Big Apple.
A relaxed Timbers coach John Spencer fields questions from reporters on injuries, returning to Colorado and how he's approaching his first game as head coach. Listen all the way through to hear Spencer swoon Oregonian beat writer Geoffrey C. Arnold.
EXTRA TIME! Links to keep you company while you wait for first kick.
* Doug Binder of MLSsoccer.com says the Timbers have set their own bar very high as they jump into the bigs.
* Geoff Gibson of Stumptown Footy offers one last team preview.
* THE TIMBERS HAVE LANDED and Arnold already has a byline from Commerce City, Colo.
* The Timbers Army threw up a "mission accomplished" banner of its own this week after selling out its 3,600-seat section.
* Sensing joy, soccer-hater John Canzano rains on the Timbers Army's parade by suggesting they're less-than-unified and less-important than ever.
* Dropping Timber talks to oft-injured midfielder Sal Zizzo about having something to prove this season.
* Timbers Insider Kelly McClain previews the season-opening match with Colorado.
* Timbers TV voice John Strong offers a two-part team preview and a 30-minute chat with team owner Merritt Paulson. The former features position-by-position breakdowns, while the latter includes a shout-out to Nate Dogg (RIP).
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