The match was slightly delayed for some reason and it was really hot at game time, reaching almost 90 degrees at game time. Girl and I had spent the day at Howie's wake earlier, then walking to the waterfront to wander about, and then wander back to the stadium for the match. My heart was in a bunch of different places after the wake, which I'll chat about later, but for the match itself, it seemed like the lads were keyed up after the big Puerto Rico trip, and because it was a rivalry game.
I had wandered to the far side of the stadium right after getting inside to get girl a margarita, and nearly ran over Merritt Paulson on my way to the beer garden. It's not my fault they put the good margaritas over there, but I did chat briefly with the owner saying Hi and thanking him for things with the team. He seems like a very good guy from what I've seen of him, and after reading the piece that John Canzano did earlier this week, I'm more impressed with the man who only wants to bring top level soccer to Portland. I just promise to be a bit more careful running around the stadium trying to get stuff before the game.
Before nearly 9200 fans (which seemed to be a short count), the match started with the anthem singer nailing O Canada but yet mauling the Star Spangled Banner. For a night where the Starlight Parade was going on, I thought it was a good sized crowd. And as people were getting settled in, Johan Claesson made a good move and was bumped hard by Jay Nolly, the Caps goal keeper and the center official pointed to the PK spot for a penalty kick. The center official, Hidajet Tica, was the official at one of the Timbers' darkest days where we lost in the Open Cup in Tukwila versus the team up north in a match that up until a point seemed even until the officiating slanted towards the home team. Ryan Pore knocked in the PK and we were up 1 to nil.
The Timbers seemed to press their speed advantage on the wings, keeping the Caps on their heels for most of the first half. The mids, especially Claesson, Pore, and Savage, kept control of the ball in the middle and fed it to the forwards almost at will for points. Vancouver only got a few shots on GK Steve Cronin, who really wasn't challenged for the whole match. Near the 40th minute as I was texting updates to my friend Obi, George Josten knocked in a great shot past Nolly to get the Timbers' second goal. I completely missed his run, but watching it on the sports report later, Josten used his speed and positioning to break away from the Vancouver defense and made a great move to knock in goal number two. The score remained this way in the second half, as Vancouver turned up the heat pressing more guys forward, but Cronin and the defense turned away a lot of shots, preserving the shutout.
- Jay Nolly looked great at points for the Caps, but he really was beaten by Josten. Also, his goal kicks seemed very short on the PGE Park turf, and the Timbers used some of these short kicks to provide quick counters.
- Josten really played well, and I was really surprised that he got the start over the other forwards, but he proved his worth with some great work and the goal.
- Can't say enough about the job of Cronin and the defense - SCOT, Keel, Hayes and C-Knowles. They held up their men very well, and really only gave Vancouver a couple of solid shots. It appeared that the Caps were completely outplayed and outclassed, which I don't see all that often.
- But I think the defense for the Timbers contributed, but also our midfield, which kept Nash and Knight under wraps for most of the game. The Caps only really dangerous shots were on set plays, and Cronin was up to the task.
- I loved seeing the 30 or so Caps fans that made the trip down from Vancouver. It's always nice to see away supporters, and they showed some love for their team, which I would expect. And not only did I appreciate the win, but they now know what it's like to make that rough drive on I-5 after a loss.
Videos From Saturday night including Ryan Pore's penalty kick, a really nice corner kick that had some good defense, and the after match march. All are available on my YouTube site, including some old archives.
I also got some pictures of my cats with Timbers gear, so thought I would share.
General Timber Howie Update:
And as I mentioned, we started our day by attending General Timber Howie's wake at PGE Park Saturday afternoon. We had attended his funeral service on Tuesday, and the ceremony on Saturday was a bit more surreal and more fun. Our friend, Drumman, organized it with the help of the team, who opened up the park to allow us to gather. They also allowed us to spread Howie's ashes in Feral Cat Alley at PGE Park, a special part of the park. There are some feral cats that live at the park, taking care of the mice and patrolling the area, but since they are feral, you don't see them much, but the park created a feeding station for the cats in the basement. Since Howie is a cat person, we thought it was a good idea to spread his ashes there, along with one of Howie's cats that he lost before he left us.
We had a wake where some folks shared some stories, our friend Timber played the pipes, and we sang a few tunes before we left for the Bitter End to celebrate Howie. I was given the task of taking Howie's helmet to the Cheerful Bullpen to place in their trophy case, but before that, I needed to complete my task, because while we talked about Howie stories, I didn't share my story and the piece of Timbers history that I have because of Howie.
It was 2007 and the USL had a new team join, the California Victory, based out of San Francisco. Girl and I hadn't been there in years, and once we found out the schedule, we decided to make the first trip down there in late June to see the Timbers' first game at Kezar Stadium. We flew down there, staying near Fisherman's Wharf, with the game being on Thursday, and we were staying through Saturday before needing to be up here for another Timbers game in Portland. We ended up going to Kezar Pub to watch sports before the match because the Trail Blazers were also participating in the NBA draft, and as we were sitting there drinking, Howie came in and joined girl and I. We drank a bit, and then wandered over to the game. During the match, the PA announcer for the Victory kept talking about the Timbers - Victory celebration after the match, which we thought was pretty funny especially for the sense that the game was pretty much a draw until very late until David Hague knocked in a late goal on a looooong Josh Wickes goal kick and we won 1 to nil. We also met many of the Victory supporters, who were good folks and happy that some of the Timbers Army came down to visit.
As we wandered back to Kezar after the match, the TA congregated into one table, and suddenly the Victory supporters placed a pitcher of beer on our table that they had purchased. We then sat about, talking about scarves, supporter things, chants, and other things as the Victory were trying to really establish themselves. Their stadium is great, the crowd seemed to be good, and the fans were great, and my hope was that they were doing enough to do well. In the matter of discussion, we discussed the Cascadia Cup, a supporters cup between Vancouver, the team up north and us in which the team that scored the most points in matches against Cascadia Cup rivals would win the cup. The Victory wanted to do something similar with us, and so that night, we dreamt up the supporters cup with them. We thought that all matches would count, and the cup would remain with the winning team, but it would only be given to the other side if they won and they were present to collect. Since by then, we knew that there was one other match in San Francisco and 3 matches in Portland, it was decided that the Victory supporters would need to come up to get the cup if they won.
After figuring out the rules, we then needed to decide what would represent the trophy or cup. Well, Howie being the ingenious person he was, he pointed to the beer pitcher that was purchased for us, and said this would work. And now that it was empty, he looked about, zipped open his pack, grabbed the pitcher and put it in his pack quickly. It was subtle, quick and decisive, and we all laughed about the theft while realizing it would be perfect for this. The supporters would write the scores on the cup after each match, and so we left with Howie and our newly formed cup. Howie had offered to take girl and on a tour of the city on Friday, and so we met him at our hotel the next morning for a whirlwind tour of the bay. We went to the Presidio, the barracks and Golden Gate Park, and then spent some time in Chinatown for lunch and some shopping. We found a great restaurant where girl ordered a very warm dish that the waiter tried to get Howie and I to tell girl was too hot, but I knew better. She eats what she wants, and the only thing that messed her up was the amount of food, which was massive. Howie also gave us the cup for keeping, so that we could write in the scores. It was a truly fun day seeing the sights of San Francisco, and girl even bought some nice jewelry while we were out. Later that night, we saw Howie at the Giants - Diamondbacks game at Pac Bell Park, where Bonds hit number 750, which was exciting.
We flew back the next day, cup in hand, and the cup never left us, as we beat the Victory the 4 remaining times we played them. The team folded after the 2007 season, as the MLS returned to San Jose, and so the cup will remain as part of Timbers history, and something that girl and I will protect because not only is it a trophy that we have, but it's also something that we have because of Howie. The final picture of my photos from Saturday's wake is a picture of Howie's helmet and the cup that he never got to see, because I never got a chance to write down the scores until now. But girl and I also feel that Howie gave us the cup for a reason, and so it's part of the history of the team. And it's fitting that the helmet and cup will be put to picture, and the helmet will have a picture of the cup placed inside of it when it's placed in its new resting place at the Cheerful Bullpen sometime this week. I figure Howie would want to have his handiwork with him, and nothing would be a more fitting tribute for a truly honorable and humble man.