Friday, August 11, 2006

What's it like to, what's it like to, what's it like to score a goal?

The ever-fabulous Luke Kreamalmeyer struck again to show us exactly what it's like (answer: it feels really, really good) and led the Timbers to a 1-0 victory last night against the Virginia Beach Mariners, ending our 5,987-game losing streak (oh, no, wait, there was that "decent result" against the worst team in the league, the Toronto Lynx, on an away trip recently). You know what feels even better than scoring a goal (in open play, no less!)? Winning!

The Timbers were downright revitalized last night. A winningly enthusiastic Bayard Elfvin made a rare appearance, starting in place of our longtime keeper Josh Saunders. Byron Alvarez was particularly aggressive compared to some earlier games, and Tommy Potl was, once again, on fire. Alas, the same cannot be said of section 107. What was it--hangovers? The longest winless streak in Timbers history had us sullen with despair? A rampant case of sudden-onset laryngitis? Not until well into the second half--following the goal, in fact--did the Timbers Army begin to really sound like its usual raucous self. The first half was all about chants dying within seconds or never making it beyond the first couple of rows. I thought I was in church for a while there, and I don't mean the holy-rolling, speaking-in-tongues, Pentecostal sort but more like, you know, Lutheran. The grumpy old man living inside my head feels compelled to point out that if you come to 107 to gab with your friends and simper in post-ironic fashion at the zoo that is the Timbers Army--if you aren't going to sing or at least make noise--perhaps you could consider conducting your anthropological observations from almost anywhere else in the otherwise sedate stadium? 107 aims to be something a little different, a bit more fun. If you're new, you probably don't know any of the chants (although I'm not sure how difficult it is to pick up complex lyrics like ole, ole, ole, ole, ole, ole or to repeat the first six bars of the White Stripes over and over and over and over and over), or perhaps you're shy your first time out, or you were humiliated by your second grade music teacher into never singing another note, whatever, but an attempt to watch the match and show a modicum of enthusiasm is much appreciated. Okay end of lecture; the grumpy old man is going off elsewhere to complain about car alarms or something (and aren't you glad you don't read that blog?).

So the Army eventually got it together and supported the team in full voice, while the Timbers showed up from the opening minutes, prompting delirious, half-disbelieving chants of "Shot on goal!" and by the end of the night inspiring serenades of We're gonna win the league! (Note to the irony-impaired: We're not.) When it became clear that the season was a wash and we weren't going to have even a taste of playoffs, I had one wish, and that was for the Timbers to end on a high note. Still four games left, plenty of time for us to be thrust back down into the Slough of Despond, but maybe last night was not an anomaly. Maybe the Timbers have at long last regained a spark of that magic we saw at the beginning of the season. Mamba's back from Zimbabwe (his mother had passed away), Scot's back soon from tryouts at Coventry City (go Scot!), Byron is looking like his old self again, and with the unstoppable force of Luke Kreamalmeyer up front perhaps crawling out of the shattered remains of the season with a little restored dignity isn't too much to hope for.

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