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Friday, September 20, 2013

Timbers vs. Colorado Rapids—High-Pitched Live Blog Action!

Posted by Brian Gjurgevich on Fri, Sep 20, 2013 at 6:46 PM

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It's looking a lot like fall—are the Timbers ready to rise?

We're LIVE at The Jelly where Portland faces fellow Western Conference contender Colorado in a match with myriad playoff implications.

The Timbers could pass the Rapids in the standings with a win tonight and move into third place with five matches to play. They're sitting precariously in the five-spot at the moment, but Portland is fortunate to face the very four teams ahead of them in the standings—at home—over the next month.

Of course, Colorado comes in playing some solid footy of late. They're 7-1-4 in their last 12 matches, making them "one of the most impressive surprises" of the season. Portland, meanwhile, has just a single win in its last five, and the club's mentality has been a hot topic this week after a bit-too-casual 1-1 draw at Chivas USA on Saturday in what was a prime opportunity to grab points.

Spurned at the chance to climb the table, the Timbers are hungry for dinner.

"Sometimes it’s better to be the hunter than the hunted," said coach Caleb Porter earlier this week. "I think we’re the hunter in this game that has to overtake Colorado to basically take their position."

Appetite whet yet? If so, click past that jump and follow along as I deftly describe the action—on and off the pitch.

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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Timbers Army To Its Ranks: You Wanna Piece Of This?

Posted by Brian Gjurgevich on Thu, Sep 19, 2013 at 1:29 PM

Timbers Armys tifo for the Vancouver match earlier this season. If youre looking to cut out the word BALLS to hang on your wall, get yourself to Waterfront Park on Saturday morning (and bring scissors).
  • Brian Gjurgevich
  • Timbers Army's tifo for the Vancouver match earlier this season. If you're looking to cut out the word "BALLS" to hang on your wall, get yourself to Waterfront Park on Saturday morning (and bring scissors).

In terms of paint-on-canvas as a medium, it doesn't get much bigger than Timbers Army tifo.

The giant, sections-wide displays that rise from the North End before big matches are a collective effort, paid for by 107ist dues and created through hundreds of volunteer hours.

And on Saturday, a small (or large) piece of that action can be yours.

According to TA's Facebook page, fans who show up to Waterfront Park between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday with a pair of scissors can cut themselves a custom-sized slice of tifo and take "a piece of Timbers Army tifo history" home with them. They're cleaning out the Fanladen and promise hope to have such memorable banners as Cascadia Sam, Wu Tang, Legends, King of Clubs, Salt Girl and City of Thorns available for the cutting.

From the TA:

You may take as big or small of a piece as you like. Just make sure you bring your own scissors or cutting device and have a way to take it home.

This will be on a first come first serve basis people. So make sure you get there early.

That last bit is worth noting. Remember, this is a crew that lines up hours (and hours) before matches to claim prime seats. You've been warned! BTW, the Timbers return to action on Friday, when they host Colorado.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Timbers vs. Toronto FC—High-Pitched Live Blog Action!

Posted by Brian Gjurgevich on Sat, Sep 7, 2013 at 7:47 PM

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We get it: Not. A. Must-Win.

We're LIVE at The Jelly, where your Portland Timbers host Toronto FC in a match we'll go ahead and call a "should-win" for PTFC. You want three points, do ya?

1. DRAMATICS! Fighting for their postseason lives(!), injuries, suspensions and international call-ups have thinned the Timbers as summer has begun to set on the Rose City. They've dropped two straight, have one win in seven tries and are teetering on the edge of the playoff race with eight matches left.

2. DOUBLE-NEGATIVES! "We're not planning to not win this game," coach Caleb Porter said earlier this week. I can't not agree with that statement—I don't think.

3. HYPERBOLE! Toronto is a lovely city with a terrible footy team. The Reds are ninth out of 10 in the East and are fresh off sacking both their president/GM and player operations while keeping their "shambolic" coach. They've been called lowly, a weak opponent, stinky and easy points. With five international call-ups and both their Designated Players sidelined with injuries, Portland's chances at victory are further improved by the return of Capt. Will Johnson. Just how important is it to have him alongside man-in-motion Diego Chara at midfield? "When they play together they are very destructive defensively in winning balls," Porter said on Friday. "And ripping the heart out of an opponent."

Whatever happens (let's hope nobody's heart is actually ripped out—such a mess could cause a lengthy delay) the only must is clicking past the jump and following along as I deftly describe the action—on and off the pitch.

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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Timbers vs. Real Salt Lake—High-Pitched Live Blog Action!

Posted by Brian Gjurgevich on Wed, Aug 21, 2013 at 7:40 PM

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Who's the best in the West? Pretty sure I'm looking at 'em right now.

We're LIVE at The Jelly, where the Timbers could pull into a tie for first place with Real Salt Lake when the two meet at 8(ish) p.m. It's the first of three league meetings over the final two months of the season between these sides—and this lovely summer evening could very well bring the opening salvo in a conversation that'll decide the Western Conference and the Supporters' Shield.

"We're just looking forward to getting them on our home field," said Portland forward Ryan Johnson on Saturday, after the Timbers' 2-1 win vs. Dallas. "We definitely want to impose our will against them and just get a bit of payback."

That'd be for a 2-1, US Open Cup-ousting loss in Utah on Aug. 7, when RSL controlled Portland for much of the match and held off a fierce rally attempt late to advance to the final. Yes, it was only two weeks ago, but this match is likely to have a different look with lineup shifts all over the pitch.

Salt Lake will be without regular keeper Nick Rimando, and starters Alvaro Saborio and Carlos Salcedo, while (BURY THE LEAD) both teams will be without their on-field leaders: Portland Capt. Will Johnson is still nursing a shoulder injury he suffered in Salt Lake, while RSL's Kyle Beckerman sits the bench for yellow-card accumulation.

The top of the table is within sight! So stop making that face, click past the jump and follow along as I deftly describe the action—on and off the pitch.

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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Sounders Ask Fans To Show Off Their Best "Deuce Face"...Timbers Fans Shit Themselves Laughing

Posted by Brian Gjurgevich on Tue, Aug 20, 2013 at 5:46 PM

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  • The Denim Kit

In a marketing fail destined for a rivalry week, the Seattle Sounders earnestly asked their fans today to tweet pictures of themselves showing their best "Deuce Face" in honor of newly arrived (and unfortunately nicknamed) U.S. Men's National Team star Clint "Deuce" Dempsey.

You see, during a USMNT match against Jamaica in September, Dempsey rushed in during a brief scuffle on the pitch and showed he wasn't about to take any shit from the Raggae Boyz...by making a face that looked like he was taking a shit.

From the Sounders:

That is when he famously scrunched up his face and made a mocking gesture toward one of his Jamaican opponents in what quickly became known—and celebrated—as “Deuce Face."...The player on the other side of that now-famous face that has been mimicked and made into giant cutout posters by fans at U.S. Soccer matches was Portland Timbers forward Ryan Johnson.

In honor of that signature moment, we are offering a signed Dempsey Sounders FC jersey and two tickets to Sunday’s match against the Timbers for the best rendition of Dempsey’s Deuce Face. To enter the contest, submit photos via twitter by using the hashtag #MyDeuceFace. A winner will be selected on Saturday.

Timbers fans on Twitter, naturally, have picked up on the unfortunate hashtag and made it their own. I'm guessing none of them will be chosen to win the jersey.

Before heading to Seattle on Sunday, the Timbers host Real Salt Lake tomorrow night at Jeld-Wen Field. First kick is set for 8 p.m.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Timbers vs. FC Dallas—High-Pitched Live Blog Action!

Posted by Brian Gjurgevich on Sat, Aug 17, 2013 at 7:45 PM

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Stack it alongside a 15-game unbeaten streak, and you can make nearly any stretch look like a slump.

We're LIVE at The Jelly, where your Portland Timbers host FC Dallas in an 8ish p.m. match that pits two supposedly struggling sides.

Yes, Portland is 1-3-2 in its last six matches—a slight dip that's seen them eliminated from the US Open Cup, cede a bit of momentum and generate the kind of hand-wringing that comes when expectations rise. Back at it after a 10-day layoff, the Timbers find themselves in a Spanx-tight Western Conference playoff race: Portland sits one point out of second place...and two points out of seventh.

So are they slumping right as the season hits its home stretch? PTFC coach Caleb Porter doesn't think so.

"Everybody thinks we are in a slump right now. I mean, a slump is when you lose multiple games in a row,” Porter said earlier this week. "These guys never lose an edge. We’ve built them to be alpha dogs. We built them to be aggressive and confident and proactive and to not back down."

The Hoops, on the other hand, may actually—technically—be slumping. Dallas is winless in 10 matches—nearly three months—and hadn't scored in five matches before breaking through in a 3-3 draw at LA.

Color Porter not impressed.

"Everyone is talking about Dallas being in a slump," he said on Friday after training. "It is easy to forget that they were on of the best teams in the first half of the year. They are still the same team. They have lost a little bit of confidence, but overall they are a dangerous team and they know they can turn the tend of the season around here by getting a result."

That'll be a tall order, despite the fact that Portland will be without the services of Capt. Will Johnson and fashion plate/forward Frederic Piquionne: The Timbers are 2-0-1 against Dallas already this season and haven't lost in eight tries at home. Can they keep it going and dump all the slump talk?

Only one way to find out (OK, that's not even remotely true, but let's just go with it): Click past the jump and follow along, as I deftly describe the action—on and off the pitch.

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Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Timbers Will, Like, Totally Die For You

Posted by Brian Gjurgevich on Thu, Aug 15, 2013 at 12:48 PM

The Timbers released a new video on their YouTube channel yesterday to honor their season ticket holders, and it's worth a look:

Capt. Will Johnson bringing on-field intensity to his commute? Check. Keeper Donovan Ricketts dramatically taping his prized fingers? Yep. Midfielder Sal Zizzo's hair staying perfectly in place during slow-mo drills? You bet.

If the song doesn't sound familiar, don't worry your lil' hipster heart out, because it shouldn't—the Timbers' creative team penned the original tune for the video, which was produced locally by Juliet Zulu and shot by Studio Jelly over two weeks in June/July. Portland musician Mike Coykendall provided vocals, which combined with slow-motion HD and a single strumming guitar make for a rather haunting presentation. The theme also marks a shift in focus from previous PTFC marketing efforts: Whereas last year, the "Portland Timbers anthem" featured fans and players alike, here the camera is squarely on the team as it preps for/plays a match earlier this season against Colorado.

It makes sense: Portland sits in fourth place out west and despite a bit of a lull lately, is primed for a playoff run. Timbers Army is still a big part of the home-game draw, without a doubt, but those who've secured a ticket this sold-out MLS season have witnessed some win-or-die-t(r)ying action on the pitch, too. Speaking of, the Timbers are back home at 8 p.m. Saturday, when they host Dallas.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Timbers vs. Vancouver Whitecaps—High-Pitched Live Blog Action!

Posted by Brian Gjurgevich on Sat, Aug 3, 2013 at 7:45 PM

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It's derby day in Cascadia! Or, as it's known across the rest of the footy-loving country, a meeting of the two Northwest teams who didn't land Clint Dempsey. (Too soon?)

No matter, there's plenty at stake when your Portland Timbers host the middle ingredient of the bonfire, the Vancouver Whitecaps, tonight at 8 p.m. PTFC could vault into the lead of the Cascadia Cup standings and put a sorta-stumbly July firmly in their rearview with a win over our BC buds. After a historic 15-match unbeaten streak dazzled Soccer City, Portland went 1-2-1 last month. Still, they've lost only three games all season and sit tied for second place in a Western Conference with just 10 points between first and eighth position.

Vancouver has followed a similar path as Portland 313 miles south into J-WF tonight: After a six-match unbeaten run of their own, the 'Caps have lost dropped straight and face their share of lineup questions this evening. Striker Kenny Miller is still nursing a groin injury, while midfielders Jun Marques Davidson and Gershon Koffie are sidelined with suspensions. Throw in long-injured centerbacks Jay DeMerit and Andy O’Brien, and the 'Caps are a bit light up top.

“There’s like five of your best players," said Caps coach Martin Rennie earlier this week. Indeed. So what might buoy Vancouver tonight? The MLS debut of keeper David Ousted is a good place to start. Since arriving in July from the Danish Superliga (which I can only assume means "SuperLeague!"), Ousted had admitted to his hatred of riding the bench, while looking forward to experiencing Timbers Army in his first match stateside.

“If there was some good spectators there and a couple of boos in there, that’s something I thrive on,” Ousted said. “I love that. It just makes me play even better. So I’m not nervous getting in there. I’m just waiting for my chance to prove myself.”

He'll have that opportunity against a Timbers side that'll again be missing ever-moving midfielder Diego Chara, who's working through a toe injury. And in a rivalry match that's expected to be as "wonderfully reckless" as ever, coach Caleb Porter is pointing toward his team's ability to press—and finish—as a renewed focus.

"Not that it's been poor," Porter said. "For me, we haven't been quite as aggressive in that part of our game."

"It’s time to take it to another level...The guys know this is the time of year you separate the good teams and things start to shake out."

Man-oh-man, it's a drop-dead gorgeous day in Goose Hollow. So if you're not here (seriously, where are you?), click past the jump and follow along, as I deftly describe the action—on and off the pitch.

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Saturday, July 13, 2013

Timbers vs. LA Galaxy—High-Pitched Live Blog Action!

Posted by Brian Gjurgevich on Sat, Jul 13, 2013 at 7:45 PM

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We're LIVE at The Jelly where, tonight, streaking is highly discouraged.

Their 15-match unbeaten run in the books, the Timbers look to make losing a one-time thing when they host the LA Galaxy in an 8(ish) p.m. clash of Western Conference contenders.

If beating Seattle never gets old, besting Los Angeles is always welcome to Portland fans of every stripe, shade and chevron. Ah, but the defending Major League Soccer champs appear to be rounding into form midway through the season, rolling into town behind back-to-back wins and playing their best footy of 2013. Sure, Landon Donovan isn't here tonight (he's still on national-team duty) and the Galaxy haven't won a road match in months, but LA's unpredictable style and stout, Omar Gonzalez-anchored defense is enough for PTFC coach Caleb Porter to consider his team "clear underdogs" in this one.

Is Porter slow-playing his hand a bit? Perhaps not. The Timbers haven't allowed a goal in their last six home matches, but that historic trend will be tested with usual starter Pa Modou Kah suspended after straight kicking a dude in the face. Plus, without Capt. Will Johnson and spark plug Rodney Wallace in the building (they're also kicking it with their countrymen) Portland will need to find offense and energy elsewhere.

"You won’t see a team that is losing confidence," Porter said on Friday. "You’ll see a team that is probably a notch more hungry."

And still humble. After last week's not-so-bad loss at Columbus, Porter accentuated the positive.

"It’s not all that bad to get bloodied and taste defeat," he said. "This team will respond positively from defeat, like good teams do."

Will it be enough to beat LA? Click past the jump to find out, and follow along as I deftly describe all the action, on and off the pitch.

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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

BREAKING: Portland Will Host 2014 Major League Soccer All-Star Game

Posted by Brian Gjurgevich on Wed, Jul 10, 2013 at 1:38 PM

Major League Soccer All-Stars, meet Timbers Army.

Timbers owner Merritt Paulson, Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber and Portland mayor Charlie Hales just announced Portland will host next year's MLS All-Star game.

UPDATE (2:25 pm): If the nature of today's announcement wasn't completely obvious, one needed only look at the press conference's backdrop to see the news: Portland would host the 2014 Major League Soccer All-Star Game, the first major-league All-Star game of any sport to take place in the Rose City.

During a press conference on Wednesday afternoon at Jeld-Wen Field's Key Bank Club, Garber, Paulson and Hales made it official.

"There's something special happening in the market and this stadium," Garber said. "We're proud to announce that next year's AT&T MLS All-Star game will take place here in Jeld-Wen Field and the great city of Portland."

The exhibition match will pit the league's best—coached by Portland coach Caleb Porter—against a to-be-determined international team and will be aired on ESPN and in 130 countries worldwide.

Paulson—who joked that the presser was decidedly NOT to announce he'd been kicked off Twitter by Garber—said it's not hyperbole to say the Timbers have delivered on their promise of four years ago to shine a "terrific spotlight" on the community.

"We've got something really special here," Paulson said. "The eyes of the country and the world will be squarely on Soccer City, USA.

"We're gong to show them an All-Star Game like they've never seen before."

Paulson said he's looking to put together a "host committee" of key local, community and civic leaders, while promising "the biggest global soccer-name opponent that's ever played in Portland."

"I couldn't be more thrilled to be chosen," Paulson added. "We're gonna put our best foot forward, and work starts today on that."

Hales, who was introduced by an MLS emcee as "Charlie Sales," said it's a great honor for Portland and a great fit.

"We're Soccer City, not just here with the Timbers and the Thorns, but all over this city," Hales said. "We're rooted in with soccer here, just like those big Douglas Firs that Timber Joey uses to slice those wood cookies every time we score a goal."

"It's part of our culture, it's part of our community, and that's why it's such a great fit."

Hales looked at Garber and committed the city, its leaders, bureaus and citizens to "join with you and make this a great success for soccer and for Portland."

Click past the jump for the official release from MLS.

Continue reading »

Here's How Portland Welcomed The U.S. Men's National Soccer Team To Town

Posted by Brian Gjurgevich on Wed, Jul 10, 2013 at 10:44 AM

Some of the brightest stars in American soccer met their match in terms of fandom last night, as the U.S. Men's National Team cruised to a 6-1 victory over Belize in the first round of the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

The match was a rout (Chris Wondowlowski scored three goals in the first half to pace the Americans) but Portland footy fans certainly didn't disappoint. The USMNT's official supporters group—the American Outlaws—teamed with Timbers Army to create a tifo display that incorporated the ol' stars and stripes, an inspiring message (Community Club Country—Everyone has something to stand for) and even an Uncle Sam-inspired figure dressed in Cascadia garb.

Pretty cool. Just ask U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann: He called the crowd "fantastic" and said the match was "a wonderful experience," adding: "The players were all curious how it [would] be, and [the atmosphere] lived up to their expectations."

Video of the tifo rising from the North End after the jump!

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Monday, July 8, 2013

Timbers Snap Streak, Maintain Mystique

Posted by Brian Gjurgevich on Mon, Jul 8, 2013 at 1:59 PM

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  • Rick Osentoski/USA TODAY Sports

The Timbers' 15-match unbeaten streak may have ended on Sunday afternoon, but their reputation as one of the more dangerous clubs in Major League Soccer certainly didn't.

Portland gave up an early goal and played with 10 men for nearly 80 minutes during 1-0 loss to the Columbus Crew—PTFC's first defeat since March 9. So did a Timbers team that's rolled to the fourth-longest unbeaten streak in league history finally gets its comeuppance? Not exactly.

Despite losing defender Pa-Modou Kah to a straight red card (after he straight kicked a dude in the face), Portland dominated large stretches and possessed the ball 56% of the match. All this despite not having professional spark plug Rodney Wallace, All-Star (Capt.) Will Johnson and frontline threat Frederic Piquionne (the latter of whom faced each other in a Gold Cup match at the Rose Bowl during Portland's game).

File this one under "coulda/shoulda been worse." But according to coach Caleb Porter, don't put it anywhere near "failure."

"There's no failure, there's just feedback," Porter said postgame. "The feedback I got today was very positive in a lot of ways, again reinforcing just how tough and strong this team is. We got better today, even though we lost. You can get better through losses just as much as you get better through positive results. But sometimes it takes feeling defeat to really stay sharp and stay hungry.”

The loss hardly gives the rest of the league a blueprint on how to contain Portland. Scoring a goal early helps, sure, but even a man down, Portland's pass-happy attack looked effective as ever: They nearly equalized in the 75th, 77th and 85th minutes.

"I think we’re a team that likes to possess the ball, and whether we had 10 or 11 on the field, it’s not going to change much for us," said Cap'n Jack Jewsbury, who wore the armband in Johnson's absence. Added forward Darlington Nagbe: "Even with a man down we still played our game."

The Timbers look to start a new streak on Saturday, when they host Los Angeles at The Jelly. Highlights and full recap from Ohio after the jump!

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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Brass Balls, Big Hearts, (Portland) Can't Lose

Posted by Brian Gjurgevich on Thu, Jun 27, 2013 at 3:26 PM

May he have this dance?
  • Tim Heitman/USA TODAY Sports
  • May he have this dance?

The Timbers are two wins away from their first trophy as a big-league franchise (other than last year's Cascadia Cup, OF COURSE).

Portland scored thrice in an 11-minute span and messed with FC Dallas under Wednesday night lights, rallying from a halftime deficit to claim a 3-2 victory over the Hoops in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup.

Darlington Nagbe scored perhaps his most impressive goal as a Timber (and that's sayin' somethin', y'all) to start things off in the 61st minute, and within 10 more, Portland was well on its way to the final four of the country's oldest continuous soccer tourney.

Seriously. Look at this:

That's just ridiculous. It's one thing to unleash a laser beam or hit a surprise turnaround strike, but to make a defense full of professionals look that silly? Well, that's just special.

Just like coach Caleb Porter's postgame reaction.

"I can’t be any more proud of the guys," he said after goals from Diego Valeri (above, 63rd minute) and Frederic Piquionne (72nd). "They continued to show me they have big hearts and brass balls, because they know how to get it done when the game is on the line. That’s the mark of a good team."

Portland will now travel to Utah on Aug. 7 to face Real Salt Lake in its first-ever USOC semifinal. But first the Timbers will play for a more unofficial cup—the inaugural Copa Verde—when they host Mexican first-division club Monarcas Morelia in their first friendly of the season at 8 p.m. on Wednesday at the Jelly.

Full recap and highlights after the jump...

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Sunday, June 23, 2013

Timbers vs. Colorado Rapids—High-Pitched Live Blog Action!

Posted by Brian Gjurgevich on Sun, Jun 23, 2013 at 3:50 PM

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It's up to 14 games now, spanning three months, 26 points and uncharted miles of elevation in Major League Soccer's hierarchy. But step down into the Portland Timbers' locker room, and the word isn't exactly springing from everyone's lips.

"I haven't heard one guy talk about the streak," said Club Cap'n Jack Jewsbury last week, after Portland knocked off table-topping FC Dallas in an afternoon thriller here.

Chainsaw-proximity aside, the Timbers may be the only ones not buzzing aloud.

PTFC enters this afternoon's tilt with Colorado a win away from reaching the top of the Western Conference standings. They've already summited a number of MLS Power Rankings, and even fantasy nerds are beginning to take notice of the Rose City's realness.

"This group has something special," Jewsbury said. "And I've been in a locker rooms in the course of my career."

As I wrote about in this week's print edition, there's also a certain level of coolly collected calmness that starts at the top. Portland's turnaround under first-year coach Caleb Porter has been nothing short of a culture change. A club that was repeatedly kicked in the gut around this time last year has been reformed into a deep, versatile, experienced and resilient bunch that's about as well-rounded as it gets, leading the league in goals while earning shutouts in four of six matches. While most point to the Timbers' attack (Porterball! Whatever that is!), Porter says his fellas are becoming a "very good" defensive team, to boot. Andrew Jean-Baptiste and newly acquired Pa Modou Kah are playing beyond their time together after being thrust into starting roles earlier this week. Both are big, athletic and physical to be certain, but Jean-Baptiste says their success comes more from having "no worries" about whoever slides in.

“We just all know how to play with each other, no matter who it is,” Jean-Baptiste said earlier this week. “It’s crazy how it works, we have so many guys going in and out on the backline and we still manage to put up shutouts. It’s impressive, not many teams can do that."

Can they do it again? We have grey skies over Goose Hollow, but the top of the points table is still within sight. So click past the jump and follow along, as I deftly describe the action, on and off the pitch.

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Saturday, June 15, 2013

Timbers vs. FC Dallas—High-Pitched Live Blog Action!

Posted by Brian Gjurgevich on Sat, Jun 15, 2013 at 1:45 PM

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You know a team is in good form when the importance of a game is bandied about like a Diego Valeri through-ball into the box. After all, nothing says "we're legit" more than being involved in what's expected to be a real dandy against the top team in the league.

Relevance, after all, is the highest form of flattery. Especially with six months left in the season.

"It's our biggest game to this point," said defender Michael Harrington, describing this afternoon's clash of two of best of West. At training yesterday, Cap'n Jack Jewsbury agreed. And when Capt. Will Johnson was asked about the importance of Portland's next 10 days, he answered with a pair of questions.

“Are we going to be fighting for first in the West?" he said. "Or are we back to clawing for a playoff spot?”

Today could be indicative, despite a number of notable absences on both sides. Portland is missing budding star Rodney Wallace (he's still kickin' it with the Costa Rican national team) but Donovan Ricketts and Ryan Johnson will be back. The Hoops will be without leading scorer Blas Perez and former Timber Kenny Cooper, the latter of which flew home this morning to attend to a "family emergency."

Still, head coach Schnellas Hyndman's club is as dangerous as its 28 points from 14 matches suggests. They had a nine-game unbeaten streak earlier this season and have TWO starters who roll with single names (Michel and Jackson). Legit. Portland, of course, is unbeaten in 12 matches—they haven't lost since MARCH, when Hugo Chavez's body was still warm (too soon?). Can the Timbers make it a baker's dozen?

It's a Chamber of Commerce-type day in Goose Hollow. If you're not already here, go ahead and click past the jump, and follow along as I deftly describe all the action—on and off the pitch.

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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Timbers vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies: High-Pitched Live Blog Action!

Posted by Brian Gjurgevich on Wed, Jun 12, 2013 at 7:15 PM

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The Tampa Bay Rowdies were the toast of the town two weeks back (along with a certain New Caledonian) after the pluck NASL squad upended the hated Sounders to knock loathsome Seattle out of the U.S. Open Cup early for the first time in five years.

But tonight, Ralph's Mob reacquaints itself with your Portland Timbers, eager to earn a Northwest sweep. The Rowdies' supporters group arrived in J-WF just after 6:30 p.m. and for a moment at least, their voices were louder than Timbers Army.

Yeah, that probably won't last.

Coming off a rather "meh" draw in which they yielded a pair of second-half goals, the Timbers look to give Tampa Bay the 'ol Wilmington treatment and advance to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup with a win tonight. The Timbers have longest unbeaten streak going in Major League Soccer (they haven't lost since MARCH) but kick off a four-game, 12-day stretch this evening. With Western Conference-leading Dallas heading into town on Saturday, Portland coach Caleb Porter will likely be mindful of his gents' legs. After all, as Capt. Will Johnson pointed out, "it's not humanly possible for a guy to play four games in 12 days, or so, at a high level."

So is it possible for Tampa Bay to pull off an upset tonight? The defending NASL champs are right in the middle of their league's table but are 4-1-1 on the road this season. Their chances may be as dreary as the weather in Goose Hollow tonight, but stranger things have certainly happened.

There are plenty of good seats available in The Jelly tonight, but if you're staying dry and sitting at home, click past that jump and follow along, as I deftly describe the action on and off the pitch.

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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Timbers vs. Wilmington Hammerheads: High-Pitched Live Blog Action!

Posted by Brian Gjurgevich on Wed, May 29, 2013 at 7:00 PM

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You can't NOT mention Cal FC in a Timbers U.S. Open Cup live blog, so I'll only do it once. There.

Of course, now that we're on the subject, if 2012's shock heard 'round Soccer City taught us one thing, it's that you can never count out an underdog—like, ever. Further proof, it would seem, arrives tonight from Wilmington, N.C., where a struggling USL Pro League team called the "Hammerheads" sits 11th in a 13-team league with losses in every road match and a bleak outlook one-third of a way through its season. Oh, and they're probably exhausted, to boot: Since playing eight days ago in Austin, players have flown back to Wilmington, then bussed 600+ miles to Orlando and Tampa Bay for weekend matches, then flown Monday from Tampa to Portland. They'll fly back for a match on Saturday night before taking on two of the top USL Pro teams on the road over the next two weeks. Phew.

So can these well-traveled Wilmingtonians give Timbers Army the most unimaginably terrible case of deja vu—like ever? I'll say the same thing I said about this time last year—"naaaaaaaaaah." As rocky as Portland appeared in late May of 2012, they look just as smooth in 2013. Unbeaten in 11 matches, the Timbers are second in the Western Conference and seem increasingly dangeronfident (*coined!) by the week. Sure, Portland's lineup tonight may not feature every regular, but another early exit from our nation's oldest footy tourney?

“That’s not going to happen on our watch,” said coach Caleb Porter this week, noting while the team is encouraged by its trajectory, a lack of trophies in its MLS era still drives them. "So this is an opportunity to do just that and win a trophy. “

It'll take five wins, starting tonight. But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves (just ask Seattle). Because nothing's guaranteed. Even road-weary minor league teams have a chance. Why else would you click past the jump for more?

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Monday, May 20, 2013

Portland 2:2 Vancouver—Timbers Finish The Fight

Posted by Brian Gjurgevich on Mon, May 20, 2013 at 1:42 PM

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  • Bob Frid/Vancouver Whitecaps

Prior to the Timbers' season opener in March, team owner Merritt Paulson used a slightly modified version of a Timbers Army chant to ask the question on every fan's mind.

"We'll sing for you, Timbers," he tweeted on March 3. "Will you finish the fight?"

The answer appears to be a resounding "YES."

Portland once again proved it's not a team to be counted out on Saturday: The Timbers rallied twice to shock a large swath of soccer-loving British Columbia and earn a 2-2 draw against rival Vancouver, leveling the playing field in the race for the Cascadia Cup.

Down a goal and a man after a dubious straight-red-card sent Futty Danso to the locker room, Jose "Trencito" Valencia caught chested down a Hail Mary pass from Will Johnson, calmly cut back and scored his first career MLS goal to kick Portland's unbeaten streak ahead to a historic 10 straight matches. An improbable result? Sure, but with these 2013 Timbers, improbability is slowly becoming more impossible to define.

“This team just seems to have that ‘never quit, refuse to lose’ [attitude]," said coach Caleb Porter postgame. "And you hope you can kind of harness it in a team.

"Some teams just never have it, but this team has it."

You simply couldn't say the same for the 2011 and 2012 Timbers. Road deficits seemed hopeless to overcome. Fans spent the final 15 minutes of matches searching for positives—moral victories to cling to. Now supporters spend that same time expecting something special to happen.

"You fight and you try because we’ve got a thousand fans that sit up in the stands who expect nothing less," said Johnson, who scored on a penalty kick in the 52nd to level the match. "We recognize we’ve got to fight even if it doesn’t look like there’s any chance and the task looks impossible."

Video highlights and official recap after the jump.

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Sunday, May 12, 2013

Timbers vs. Chivas USA—High-Pitched Live Blog Action!

Posted by Brian Gjurgevich on Sun, May 12, 2013 at 1:55 PM

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UPDATE: The Timbers dominated Chivas USA in every facet of the game to run away with a 3-0 victory on Sunday afternoon. Undefeated in nine straight, Portland sits all alone in second place in the Western Conference.

That's right, a team that only a mother could love last season is looking like a serious contender 11 games into its new era. And according to coach Caleb Porter, the Timbers are "just scratching the surface" on the possibilities.

"We're not where we want to be yet, which is what makes it scary," Porter said. "We can be even better."

Wallace—blossoming before our very eyes in the first-year coach's system—scored in the 34th minute of a first half owned by Portland. But they weren't done.

"As soon as came into the locker room, coach said it himself," said defender Andrew Jean-Baptiste. "He wanted two more goals."

And he got 'em. Diego Valeri scored in the 70th minute, and just for good measure (and perhaps because the Timbers aren't home again until June 15) Capt. Will Johnson netted another in stoppage time.

"We have a good group and we have good chemistry," Wallace said. "We're all flowing right now. The thing about this group is we like winning. It just shows on the field."

It was certainly a beautiful Mother-lovin' afternoon in Goose Hollow for Timbers fans. So put those flowers in a vase and click past the jump for FULL UNCUT video of Porter's postgame presser and more.

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Thursday, May 2, 2013

Timbers vs. New England Revolution: High-Pitched Live Blog Action!

Posted by Brian Gjurgevich on Thu, May 2, 2013 at 7:15 PM

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Are the Timbers...dare I say...legit?

UPDATE: Hmmm...maybe we table that discussion for next week, yeah? The Timbers thoroughly dominated The Revolution on Thursday night but couldn't quite find that final touch as the New England escaped The Jelly with a scoreless draw.

That's right, 90 minutes of soccer and no goals. Have at it, soccer haters. Done? OK, good, because Portland extended its franchise-best unbeaten streak to seven by out-shooting New England 22-12 and maintaining possession 67% of the match. They had nearly twice as many total passes (488-228) and won 55% of duels. Ah, but something was missing.

"Today was a good reminder that it's not just gonna happen," Timbers coach Caleb Porter said in his shortest (but most curt!) postgame presser of the season. "We certainly had enough chances to score the goal to win the game, but in the end you gotta credit their goalkeeper who made some great saves. I also felt a part of that was us not being as sharp as we could've been in the final third."

Capt. Will Johnson said the Timbers played well enough to win.

"You get a certain amount of chances at this level, and you have to put 'em away," Johnson said. "We could've focused a little more on the defensive side. At home, you gotta win your games. That's our mindset."

Click past the jump for so much more, including FULL VIDEO of Porter's postgame presser, more quotes from the locker room and minute-by-minute descriptions of all the action, on and off the pitch.

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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Timbers And Their Army Grant One Kid's Wish, Make 3,000+ Fans Misty

Posted by Brian Gjurgevich on Wed, May 1, 2013 at 5:42 PM

Three-thousand people packed the North End of Jeld-Wen Field this morning for one reason: Atticus Lane-Dupre wanted to play.

The eight-year-old learned he had cancer last fall. After missing his team's last soccer match of the season, Atticus hooked up with Make-A-Wish Oregon to put together a pick-up game between his side—The Green Machine—and your Portland Timbers. Word spread, and soon, signs were being painted, chants were being re-written, and for one day, loyalties of supporters considered the most rabid in North America were cut.

I walked west on Morrison at around 11:15 a.m. and saw a view that looked more like a late Saturday afternoon: A line of fans rounded the corner from Timbers Army's usual entrance clear to the east grandstand. Walking into the stadium felt like a typical gameday—music in the air, flags placed at the end of rows, chants randomly rising left and right, people milling about excitedly with colorful banners and signs in hand. Sure, I figured TA would be organized (these, after all, are the same folks who regularly gather on weekends to rebuild fields around town and force the Red Cross to bring in second shifts for blood donations) but clearly they'd prepared to pull out all the stops.

The team, too: "THE GREEN MACHINE" lit up the visitor's side of the scoreboard. The video screen was on, and as the team's familiar public address announcer read off the names of the kids, their pictures flashed amid chants of "GM-FC" (a play on the team's typical pre-game chant of "PT-FC" for "Portland Timbers Football Club." The teams walked out of the tunnel side-by-side and onto the pitch as they do during MLS matches. The national anthem even had a color guard.

It was before noon on a Wednesday, but for the next half-hour or so, it felt like one of those endless summer days when time didn't matter—y'know, like when you were a kid? Timbers Will Johnson, Jack Jewsbury, Darlington Nagbe, Mikael Silvestre, Futty Danso, Jake Gleeson, Ryan Kawulok and Sebastián Rincón took on the Green Machine in shifts of four wearing grins that matched their opponents'. The Green Machine jumped to a 3-0 lead before the game eventually pulled even behind Rincón, who seemed to especially embrace the "faux-villain" role by scoring four goals and egging on the crowd of yes-I-said-3,000 people. On this day, Timbers Army was clearly backing The Green Machine, modifying every chant and mercilessly booing every bit of success the home team enjoyed. At a certain point, Johnson (who traded jerseys with Atticus postgame) received a red card and was shooed off the pitch by Portland coach Caleb Porter.

And with the match tied at nine, the ball somehow found its way to Atticus for last-minute breakaway. He dribbled toward The Green Machine's nemesis—Rincón—while the 6-foot-1, 175-pound pro waved his finger. Atticus shot, and wouldn't you know, the ball went through Rincón's legs and into the net.

Game-winner. Green smoke. Tetris. Is it dusty in here?

UPDATE: Atticus grabbed the No. 1 spot on ESPN SportsCenter's Top 10 Plays last night, and other outlets nationwide (yes, even Seattle) have picked up the story.

More after the jump from a too-heart-swelling-for-snark (so don't even try it, buster!) event, including video highlights and more on Atticus' day.

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Monday, April 15, 2013

Timbers 1, Earthquakes 0, Saab owner -1

Posted by Dirk VanderHart on Mon, Apr 15, 2013 at 11:12 AM

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San Jose Earthquake fans don't yet have a legitimate stadium of their own to trash, so they've apparently taking to messing things up around here.

The Portland Police Bureau is looking for a contingent of Earthquake fans who—while headed to watch their team's defeat yesterday—decided to make a brief pit stop to wreck a Saab.

According to a news release, a 40-year-old Lake Oswegoan named James Decker was en route to yesterday's game in that Saab. But he either forgot or wasn't privy to what is apparently a rule: You don't taunt Earthquake fans on game day.

While waiting at a stop light on West Burnside, Decker spotted a group of rival fans headed to the game. Most of them had their faces obscured ominously by scarves. Decker taunted them anyway, telling police he "held up his Timbers scarf and yelled to the group," the release says.

A woman from the group ran over to try and snatch the scarf and, when Decker attempted to drive off, was knocked over.

From the release: "Decker told police that a group of 10 to 12 males then ran over to his car and jumped on the hood and smashed the windshield. Decker told police that one male punched him through the open car window. Decker told police that someone opened the passenger side door of his car and punched him also."

Police are asking for information on the suspect—the woman who rushed Decker is described as "Hispanic female in her 20s, 5'6" tall, heavy build"—and would love to see any pictures you might have taken.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Timbers vs. San Jose Earthquakes: High-Pitched Live Blog Action!

Posted by Brian Gjurgevich on Sun, Apr 14, 2013 at 7:20 PM

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UPDATE: The Timbers prevailed in yet another testy match, defeating San Jose 1-0 on Sunday night behind a timely a pregame text message, an on-field homophobic slur and a world-class bender from Capt. Will Johnson.

The fiery Canadian's 78th minute free-kick-goal came after Earthquake forward (and former Timber) Alan Gordon called Johnson a "fucking faggot" prior to being sent off the field for his second yellow card of the night. Johnson responded by throwing up three fingers—one for each of the games Gordon figures to be suspended by a league with little tolerance for such hateful garbage.

"I think it's probably better I don't comment on that," Johnson said to reporters post-match. "It's a very sensitive matter."

Gordon was escorted out of the locker room by team officials and didn't speak from the press. The Earthquakes, did, however, issue a statement on Gordon's behalf: "I would like to sincerely apologize to everyone who watched tonight’s match on NBC Sports Network. The language I used came during a heated moment and does not reflect my feelings toward the gay and lesbian community. I made a mistake and I accept full responsibility for my actions."

That ugly moment marred an otherwise great night for Portland, which won consecutive matches for just the third time in MLS franchise history. Porter, who noted Johnson spent 20 minutes after practice on Thursday booming those bending free kicks, said he texted Johnson and told him he had a "weird feeling" his on-field captain would deliver the same come match-time.

"I said, 'Why don't you smack a free-kick-goal today?'" Porter said postgame. "So when he hit it, I couldn't believe it."

Believe this: With the win, the Timbers vaulted from eighth to third in the MLS Western Conference table—a full seven points ahead of winless Seattle (oh by the way). And for the second staright week, Portland won by standing its ground in a chippy home match.

"[San Jose has] got a group of guys that roll up their sleeves and fight," Porter said. "We have no problem with it. We'll fight, too. We're not going to back down."

Click past the jump for minute-by-minute HOT LIVE BLOG ACTION, plus full video of Porter's postgame presser. Go!

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Saturday, April 6, 2013

Timbers vs. Houston Dynamo: High-Pitched Live Blog Action!

Posted by Brian Gjurgevich on Sat, Apr 6, 2013 at 7:15 PM

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UPDATE!: The Timbers defeated a bunch of ruffians from Houston 2-0 behind a pair of goals from Ryan Johnson and despite an equal number of nasty injuries to key starters.

Midfield magician Diego Valeri and burly defender David Horst left the field in the first half under varying scary levels of others' power—a wobbly Valeri on the shoulder of a trainer after being elbowed in the cheek and Horst laid out on a stretcher after an ugly ankle/knee/leg twist. With two starters down for the count in the first 30 minutes, the all-out-alpha-dog-scrap predicted by Porter ensued between the Dynamo and Timbers, with the halftime whistle seemingly throwing a bucket of cold water on a match ready to roar past chippy.

With the rest of Portland's starters still in the locker room before the second half started, Johnson emerged from the North End and jogged onto the pitch. He stood almost statuesque in the midfield circle looking South toward the goal he'd soon be attacking for nearly two minutes, seemingly ready to go.

Ten minutes later, he'd be celebrating the first of his two goals, sticking his tongue out to taste the driving rain as he ran to celebrate.

"I'm always pretty eager to get out there and play," Johnson said in the locker room after scoring in the 55th and 73rd minute—his first career brace. "I got a bit of a dead-leg and just kind of wanted to get out there and see how it felt. It felt alright to keep on going, but it doesn't feel very good right now."

What likely felt just fine was Porter's first victory as an MLS coach, though the rain-soaked, Timbers-Army-scarfed skipper didn't show it in his post-game press conference. After beginning by telling the media he'd "been a little long-winded in these" Porter spoke for 9+ minutes about "fantastic" performances from sudden offensive focal point Darlington Nagbe, superb sub Kalif Alhassan and a blossoming-before-our-very-eyes Rodney Wallace. He talked about a team gaining confidence in itself and the system and a coach learning right along with a new cast of players. He praised Jack Jewsbury's "mature" play on the back line and Johnson's "workmanlike" pressure, while noting midfielders Will Johnson and Diego Chara are "starting to figure out how to play together."

It all adds up a word Porter's used a lot since arriving in Portland.

"It really looked like what we want our identity to be here with the Portland Timbers," Porter said.

So much more after the jump, including locker room thoughts/quotes, a minute-by-glorious-minute live-blog of the Timbers' first win of 2013 and full, unedited video of Porter's postgame press conference. Go!

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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Another Moral Victory Proves A Victory For Morale

Posted by Brian Gjurgevich on Tue, Mar 19, 2013 at 11:14 AM

Last Saturday, after the Timbers outplayed but ultimately fell at home to Montreal, Portland captain Will Johnson wasn't exactly eager to accentuate the positive.

"The moral victories around here," he said, "are getting a little old."

Starting next week, of course. Because one more moral victory couldn't hurt, right? Especially when rivalry is afoot. Or when a dramatic ending gobsmacks rival fans prepping for an all-out celebration. Or when one second in time flips the perception of a team's first derby from "dud" to "dandy." The Timbers drew 1-1 with Seattle on Saturday night, making their point just in time and stunning a crowd of 40,000+ going away. It was a tie, but felt like a win for the way it happened. For a team just beginning its journey toward gelling, pulling even with Seattle was more than a moral victory—it was a clear victory for morale.

"It gives us a lot of belief moving forward," said coach Caleb Porter. "This team has a lot of mettle. I’m most proud of our effort defensively. We dug deep."

Rodney Wallace, who subbed on in the 80th minute, said his focus coming in late was to try to make a difference. Check. After spotting Andrew Jean-Baptiste with the ball and an opportunity to cross, Wallace knew he was open and made sure to stay onside. Check again, and with one lofted ball into the box, Jean-Baptiste went from the defender culpable for Eddie Johnson's early goal to the heads-up passer behind an equalizer Wallace snuck past the Sounders and into Cascadia lore. He ran toward the largest swath of Timbers Army at CenturyLink stadium, pulled his shirt to his lips, kissed the Timbers' crest and pointed at the fans.

“It just shows that everybody’s tuned in," Wallace said. "Everybody is ready to compete, from the starting 11 to the guys that come in, the coaching staff, the training staff, everybody is on the same page. This year we want to be successful and points like this is what gets us there.”

Johnson called snatching a point in Seattle promising, positive and something that's taking the team in the right direction. Still, he said, three games in, there's plenty of work to be done. But rest easy, Portland—there's time: Without a match until March 30, Porter has nearly two weeks to tinker with a squad reverberating on a high note.

"We’re fighting ourselves," Johnson said. "We’re fighting a lot of adversity. We could easily be 0-3 right now. This group could be sitting on zero points, getting ready to blow this thing up. We never panicked, we never wavered."

The Timbers return to action next Saturday, March 30, at Colorado. They return home on April 6 against Houston.

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