Friday, June 5, 2009

Timbers Last Night and Saltzman Says Something..

I missed a Timbers home match. Oh, I've missed home matches before due to travel, like to my 20th high school reunion or for business, or my epic European honeymoon last year, but I've not missed a home match while being in town since 2004. But as I was working downstairs on the computer about 3 pm, girl came downstairs and said that bad thunderstorms were coming from Salem, so things could get bad later today. I continued to work until just before 5 pm, when the power went out bumping me from my task. I wandered upstairs to see the wind pick up, and so we went outside to grab lawn chairs, the gazebo cover, and other assorted outdoor furniture and put it in a safe place before the heavens opened. And right at 5 pm, they did. The power flickered on and off a few times, and it rained solid for over an hour, along with thunder and lightning strikes. Our cats were going insane with the racket outside, and as much as I wanted to head downtown, the weather was keeping me here, and then watching the television after the power came back on, traffic around town was terrible as every highway was backed up for miles.

Once I saw that, I was resigned to the fact that I wasn't going to make it to the match, but I had the feeling I wasn't going to be there all week. Our original travel plans were that we were supposed to have been in Mexico from the 29th until yesterday, so really I wasn't supposed to be here anyway. Our original arrival time would have gotten us back in time to go to the match, depending on how we felt, but really, it was insane watching the Waterfront Village for the Rose Festival as a ghost town. I also enjoyed seeing traffic shots and trees fallen down, it was as if the world was ending, but it was a powerful storm. Much like the Timbers Army, as I heard them chanting loudly during John Strong's pregame report. 95.5 The Game was calling the match on the radio, while FSN was providing television coverage, so I settled in to watch the match here.

The first 20 minutes were extremely calculated, as the rain continued to come down and both Montreal and Portland were trying to figure out what each other had planned. Guest analyst Antonio Harvey was really on his game last night, providing some nice insight into a match between a team that has been hot lately (The Timbers) and a team in a bit of trouble (The Impact). The Impact have been struggling with injuries and they made a coaching change recently, but they stuck with their basic idea of playing strong defense and slowing the game down to get a draw. And the longer the game stayed close, perhaps they could steal it with a late goal. Portland, meanwhile was trying to attack from everywhere, but the rain conditions were causing passes to fly in different directions, and it was hard to control the ball at times. Portland seemed to get better later in the first half, generating some chances finally, but Impact GK Matt Jordan was up to the task. The second half was more of the same, as Portland continued to shoot but come up with close misses on golden opportunities, while Montreal held its ground defensively. Some late substitutes for Portland gave some fresh legs, especially Keith Savage, Alex Nimo and Taka Suzuki, as the chances became more frequent, and finally just before stoppage time, David Hayes took a direct free kick that glanced off Cameron Knowles, and Keith Savage tapped in the rebound for the game's only goal. The celebration by Strong on the air was brilliant, and the Timbers got the 3 points and the win.

  • Montreal didn't start Eduardo Sebrango, who was one of their leading scorers. Not sure what that was about, but the starting lineup for the Impact was a bit odd. They had called up a few players for the match, but their lineup seemed to be built for holding the ball and then hitting the Timbers late with offense if needed.
  • Steve Cronin was very good again last night, making some good saves and keeping another clean sheet. But the defense was the man of the match, with Steven Keel, Scot Thompson, Knowles and Hayes all playing parts in keeping things solid in back, and making plays when needed.
  • I was very impressed with Aaron Heinzen's work as the color guy for FSN. He must be following the Keith Costigan school of TV work, using his experience as a Timber to get work. But seriously, Heinzen broke down a lot of key moments in the match with ease and simplicity, and I found that even the most novice soccer fans would gain some understanding from his work.
  • Even Antonio Harvey was solid last night, and he's a basketball guy. But he understood the basic concepts, and provided some great insight into a game that was being played under tough conditions, both physically with the weather and emotionally with Montreal being a bit wounded. I expect the Impact to be a bit more under control when they visit again on the 28th.
  • Don Garber was the halftime guest on FSN, and he spent a great deal of time talking about the Pacific Northwest, and the intense rivalry here. Ok, he spent a bit of time talking about the team up north and the good things there, while the background shot was a Timbers Army member with an ACES scarf.
  • John Strong's best comments of the night: "Keel is listed at 6-foot, but it's really more like 6-3 with the 'fro.", which is a clear Fletch comments, and "Hayes and Claesson love to play with themselves." I think Strong has been talking to Mike Rice a bit lately, as Mr. Rice loves to talk about sports in a uniquely double entrendre way.
Match Reports:

Allison did some great work as usual for Soccer City USA, while the Oregonian provides some good analysis as well.

Our next home game is the 19th against Minnesota, and ironically, Minnesota is one of the more famous matches where PGE Park suffered a power outage, so perhaps there will be more magic later this month. The Timbers have a busy week on the road, taking on the Kitsap Pumas on Tuesday in Bremerton as part of the US Open Cup, then they travel to Carolina on Thursday and Charleston on Saturday for matches. Our depth will be tested, but I expect our boys to do alright. And I'll have some information about each match out, and I will be watching the Saturday match on the road in Bend, OR, as the Row N crew go on road trip!!

Saltzman Speaks!!

Well, in a letter to the City Council, per this post on Soccer City USA. His main points, which are summarized in the post are as follows:

Dan Saltzman released a letter to the remainder of the city council yesterday with the following- if I can possibly summarize:

  • Considers MLS a unique opportunity, continues to support it, requests the council deliberates decoupling.
  • Concerned about the Lents proposal, will consider if Office of Management and Budget AND Lents URAC approve the deal.
  • List of other conditions: *Some of $2 million designated for park replacement go to new athletic fields at Marhsall HS, playing fields at Lent Elementary, lights and synthetic turf at the two remaining Lents Park soccer fields. *200-space south parking preserves the vital trees and uses the pavers or green bricks. *Paulson should help pay for expansion of Lents Farmers Market at said parking area. *Replace any trees removed. *Try to reduce footprint of stadium. *Do not locate team offices at the stadium site as originally proposed. *30 game tickets available for Marshall HS students. *Stadium made available for 600 hours of community events and use between March and October. *Paulson pays living wage to stadium workers.
The terms seem rather reasonable based on what I can see. Saltzman still sees benefit in MLS, but wants the baseball issue to be thought of separately to perhaps clear up confusion on the moving parts. His other demands mirror many of the same concerns the neighborhood has brought up in previous meetings. The last point about living wages has to do with a complicated agreement made between previous Timbers/Beavers ownership and the City of Portland whereby the city is making up a pay difference for stadium workers between the paid wage at the park and the prevailing minimum wage in Multnomah County.

Nothing on the list seems too outlandish of a request, and I can imagine if the other requests are met, the Lents URAC (Urban Renewal Admin Committee) might put a blessing on the whole idea, and we can finally move past these generic thoughts and put more tangible plans in place for the future. At least now, we know there is still support from three of the City Council, and what Saltzman wants to continue to provide his support. It feels like a win, and some of the air has been cleared. Now, it's up to Paulson and his team, and I have a feeling that we'll hear good things from him very soon.

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