Monday, June 05, 2006

The Twelfth Man

Something extraordinary happened Saturday night, in the shed, on the pitch, and throughout PGE Park. Reports are trickling out that formerly sedate sections of the stadium were swept up in the frenzy of an entire North End pogoing to "Seven Nation Army" and took up the cry. The thick of 107 itself was a glorious, Dionysian madness. Less than 48 hours later the night already takes on mythic proportions, in tellings and retellings and remembrances of the best night ever. You'd trade a week, a month of your life for a night like Saturday. You would.

And it all started out innocuously enough, even quietly. The sections--which were eventually packed--were slow to fill before the game began, and the Timbers Army was on a slow burn, seeming to take its time finding a rhythm and a voice. I found myself worrying because we'd brought The Wave Generator to his first soccer game ever and promised him a raucous good time at the derby: but maybe following Friday's game the faithful were too weary and hungover to muster the usual energy? Plus, no Preston Burpo to heap abuse upon; perhaps it would all be anticlimactic!

I need not have worried. Fifteen minutes in, Guti (tragically shorn of his glorious locks, which fortunately did not have a Samson-like effect on his soccer god qualities) received a pass from Mike Randolph and his strike found the back of the net. Guti Guti Guti! Oi oi oi! Now the shed was heating up! Seattle leveled the score about fifteen minutes later (with an admittedly nice header from Zach Scott) but a minute after that Mamba Chisoni's strike brought the Timbers into the lead again. As Derek said of Mamba, Now there's a man who understands the narrative of the game!

The second half was madness: Timber Jim's inspired bean-filled-water-bottles-turned-shakers-and-noisemakers along with the din of an increasingly euphoric North End saw the Timbers transform into a beautiful, inventive, attacking, unstoppable force. It was only a matter of time before the Timbers increased their lead and in the 87th minute Hugo Alcarez-Cuellar scored the decisive third goal, at which point the North End just lifted off the ground and flew around in the air for the last five minutes or so.

In soccer lore, when a team achieves that mystical unity in which they seem to be moving as one mind, when suddenly there is more happening on the pitch than can be attributed to the eleven players, it is said that the twelfth man is on the field; Saturday night we conjured up the twelfth man, and it was as magical an evening as I can ever hope to experience.

Video, more pictures, and match report here.


Lisa said...

What a beautiful post! Perfect.

steeplechase3k said...

A wonderful recap of a magical night.

Lynda said...

Thanks, guys, I'm glad you thought I did it justice.

Lynda said...

Meant to add: really nice pictures, too, Steeplechase3k.