Saturday, May 20, 2006

Rhinos Trample Timbers 1-0

It wasn't as bad as last year's humiliation. Last year, Lisa and I watched every agonizing moment from the stands, while Derek's work schedule spared him the horror of actually seeing it all unfold and he followed along with the radio broadcast until it became too much for him to bear. As I trudged up Burnside after last year's match, a group of people at a table outside Mazatlan called to me to find out the final score; they'd been unable to sit through any more of it and we all shook our heads in speechless united defeat. 5-0!

Later that night I met Derek for a beer and a bite to eat and as I was relating the dire details of the match, I found that my stomach was in such knots I not only could not eat, I could not finish my beer. Now, you must understand that, for reasons I can't fully explain, I consider leaving one's pint only partly-drunk a lapse of both propriety and good common sense. I have been known to point out pint-abandoners in restaurants and pubs. "Look," I'll say, "they didn't finish their beer" in the hushed tones one normally only reserves for observing the most appalling absence of social graces. I can, in fact, point to only one other occasion in my life when I have done the same: it was a rainy night in Dublin, Ireland, 1989, in a pub off Aston Quay, and my Irish drinking mates, refusing to believe that one more pint was going to render me so comatose as to be unable to make my way up from the table (much less navigate the half-hour walk home to Rathmines), continued to purchase rounds. Now that I think about it, my abandoned stout elicited the same contempt and disbelief I've displayed for similar behavior since; perhaps it all started there when I was young and impressionable.

At any rate, last year was devastating; this year was merely disappointing. The Rhinos are the top team in the league and I think most of us would have been pleased with a draw. The good news is that we held them off for much of the match and in the end only gave up one goal; the bad news was our complete breakdown inside the box. There were a couple of opportunities where it looked like it was going to be impossible for us not to score a goal, and yet somehow we managed the impossible.

Sunday evening against the Toronto Lynx we should be able to take away three points; if not, I'll start to be concerned about the remainder of the season.

Match reports at Soccer City USA and the offical Portland Timbers press room.

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