Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Portland Boys, We Are Here

A revamped Timbers squad--retaining a mere handful of players from last year's disastrous run--took to the pitch on Saturday night against the Puerto Rico Islanders. Among the more painful losses: longtime Timbers Byron Alvarez (gone to Charleston), fan favorite Hugo Alcarez-Cuellar (snapped up by--this one hurts--arch-rivals Seattle Sounders), and Josh Saunders, who was in the goal for Puerto Rico Saturday night. It's always wonderful, of course, to see Scot Thompson back, but why hasn't a European side offered him a decent contract yet?

We were guests of a generous friend who had tickets for seats just above the beer garden, which provided an excellent view of the players, the pitch, and a magnificently loud and magnificently full North End! The Timbers Army can no longer be contained in one, two, or even three sections! Also, I cannot quite believe that this is still coming up--but anyone who claims that the Bad Words of the TA go ringing throughout the park, scarring small children for life and setting them on a sure path to juvenile delinquency, is a dirty liar--the only obscenity which can be discerned is the tiresome, charmless, please-God-let-it-be-retired-already "You suck, asshole!" which is really offensive on account of being, well, lame.

Aside from the fantastic vantage point, lordy, those seats have nothing to recommend them, unless you enjoy a soccer match with all the atmosphere of a Midwestern Lutheran church service as described by Garrison Keillor. We were anxious to get back to our people and fled to our fellow hooligans for the second half. Kudos in particular belong to the youth of Rose City--we saw lots of enthusiastic teens and, uh, young people (we'll just be over here adjusting our walkers) filling out the sections. A fantastic and enthusiastic turnout on a cold, rainy, miserable night.

And the match! Josh Saunders, who gave us some good years as keeper before succumbing last year to the same loss of form as everyone, let three goals get past him. (Honestly, we like Saunders a lot and think he's a good keeper, and wish him much success and many clean sheets in his future, as long as he is not facing the Timbers.) The formerly-evil Andrew Gregor shed his bad-guy Seattle duds and opened the match in spectacular fashion, scoring the first of his two goals in the second minute (although he apparently has also spent some time training with England's national team, judging from the quality of his penalty kicks). Luke "Use the Force" Kreamalmeyer headed in our other goal for a final score of 3-1. Our new keeper, Josh Wicks (formerly of the Vancouver Whitecaps) looks pretty good, as does the rest of the new squad. (My friends pointed out that since the new keeper is also named Josh, I won't even have to scribble out the name I have written all over my pee-chee. I'm sure I have no idea what they're talking about.)

For an actual match report and incisive commentary, see Allison and Roberto.

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