We have an early nominee for quote of the season. And with it, an escalation in that whole Portland-Seattle rivalry thing.
Timbers coach John Spencer unleashed undoubtedly the best trash talk of the Cascadia Cup's MLS era on Tuesday, basically calling Seattle a bunch of crybabies who should stop making excuses.
After Saturday's 1-1 draw in the first MLS meeting between the old, bitter rivals, Sounders coach Sigi Schmid pointed to the weather, missing players and Portland's tendency to score on set-pieces as reasons why Seattle didn't come away with a victory at home. And those excuses were three too many for Spencer, who, completely unprompted, laid the smack down and unilaterally escalated a soundbite skirmish into a war of words. Read the following with your best Scottish accent for full effect:
”If it’s too wet up there for them to play soccer they might want to move that franchise, because it pisses down rain nearly every time I’ve been in Seattle.”
“Next time we go up there we’re going to take plenty of towels for them so we can dry the field off before the game. And maybe we’ll take plenty of tissue paper so they can dry their eyes after the game.”
Spencer hasn't been afraid to speak his mind all season, whether it was criticizing his team's mental toughness or throwing a bit of cold water on the fans' effect on the team's performance. But his latest statements are infinitely more entertaining, and the part-time sports writer in me fully enjoys an interviewee who's willing (almost eagerly) to dabble in over-the-top rhetoric.
Since leveled, Spencer's comments have earned a bit of attention from the media, and for good reason: It's not often you catch a coach talking like a fan after a few pints, and even less often that you get it on the record.
What's amusing about the whole thing is that Spencer doesn't stop at merely calling out Seattle, he even mocks them a little, unnecessarily (but entertainingly) noting that "three of the four players" who were injured on the Sounders' side wouldn't even make the Timbers' squad. Ouch.
And while I'm sure Spencer won't make a habit out of taunting his opposition, I love that he doesn't shy from calling out his team's fiercest rivals and welcoming the controversy that comes along with it. After all, I'd bet if the same scenario happened a week later—and it was Columbus' coach who made similar observations/excuses about the Timbers—Spencer would probably swallow his opinions, or at least wait until he's asked about them before unloading.
But Seattle, it seems, won't be slipping anything past Portland's coach. He wanted to say something. Badly. And by the looks of it, he'd been stewing on it all weekend.
It's clear Spencer's a guy who reads the team's press clippings and has a pulse on what the media, the fans and the players are feeling. What's more, besides not-so-subtly jabbing at his biggest rival, he's also sticking up for his squad, saying "We were the better team," and not, "We were the better team that day because of the conditions, our lineup and our style of play."
I love this stuff, and I'm assuming most Timbers fans do, too. At the very least, Spencer's smack gives the July 10 rematch between these two rivals a new theme, and at best, it shows coyness isn't in the coach's vocabulary. I'm just looking forward to finding out what else is.
EXTRA TIME! Links to keep your eyes dry.
• A "dominant" performance by Futty earned the defender MLS Best XI of the week honors.
• Another outstandingly thorough match analysis from Kevin Alexander of Slide Rule Pass, the Internet's leader in almost-way-too-in-depth breakdowns of the Timbers.
• Grant Wahl documents the PNW's growing soccer culture for Sports Illustrated.
• A nice rundown of links and Timbers power rankings from Geoff Gibson of Stumptown Footy.
• More on Sounders fans' impressive Tifo display from Joshua Mayers of The Seattle Times.
• Timbers-Sounders was less "revolutionary" than the pundits are making it out to be, says Liviu Bird of Soccer Lens, because the attention has little to do with the action on the field.