I walked to catch a bus that would take me the rest of the way into work this morning. I usually enjoy the brisk walk in the morning, as I get a chance to collect my thoughts before work or listen to the radio and get caught up on the events of last night or hear a favorite song when one of the stations here actually plays music. The music thing is a topic for another day, but I had practiced last night with members of my outdoor team and other guys from the North End United squad, and it was a blast. This morning, I was reminded of my practice as it took a slight bit to get going, but the walk and knowing it's game day helped.
There's plenty to buzz about, starting with an interview with MLS Commissioner Don Garber about the status of the league, expansion and other topics. I realize that MLS is very much in love with the success up north, and that's great that MLS is getting some attention because of it. However, the roof caved in just a bit last night off the lime green luster, as Barca came in and throttled FC Puke Green 4 to 0, which led to some early departures and lots of boos cascading from the stands. What, you all seriously thought that everything was going to go your way all the time? Yeah, that's the part about soccer that is most interesting is that sometimes, the soccer gods are just angry and things happen because of it. I don't know why sometimes, but after watching the Timbers of 2006 and 2008, trust me, it's important to keep everything in perspective as to not anger them.
There have been some match previews and articles about today's match, sprinkled with talk of the upcoming MLS change in 2011, which ironically will involve both teams playing tonight. A good article talks about the upcoming staffing and player changes for 2011 by Geoffrey Arnold, while Helen Jung talks about the long term plans to upgrade PGE Park for soccer and some of the things that will occur in the new park. There are plenty of challenges in having a team play in 2010 in the USL with an eye for moving up to MLS in 2011, but the Whitecraps and Timbers will be completing this challenge, and I think it will only help fuel the competitive edge and player development. Both cities also have dealt with some stadium issues, as while Portland has been dealing with getting PGE Park upgraded while finding a home for the Beavers, Vancouver has been trying to build a waterfront stadium that has been stalled, and they finally linked up with revisions to BC Place that are being done for the 2010 Winter Olympics, and so it will become the home of the MLS Whitecraps for a while.
I also liked a lot of the talk about what PGE Park will look like, and some of the considerations being made for the fans. I think it is important to have fans on both sides of the pitch, and have amenities and facilities that are accessible to all parts of the park. I would also agree that away seating will become an important consideration, as the Timbers will now have fans visiting from other west coast teams, and it's vital to not only take care of the home fans, but give away fans a pleasurable experience that will make them want to visit again as long as the Timbers win!! Some of the comments are the usual detractors, who either want baseball to stay in PGE Park or just hate soccer to the point of irrationality. I get that it might not be your cup of tea, but trying to destroy the idea with crass and thoughtless comments in a troglodytic fashion just shows how clueless you really are.
I also completed my match preview for the weekend, and found that I actually did get some nice pictures up in Vancouver. Things have changed quite a bit for the teams since their last meeting, as Marlon James apparently can't miss the goal, and the Timbers have found themselves sputtering a bit late in matches. But anytime old Cascadia rivals meet up, you can throw records and trends out the window, as both teams want to show off for their fans and get a win. But after this match, Vancouver travels quickly up to their place to face Charleston on Friday night in a quick back to back, while the Battery then travel to Portland to face the Timbers Saturday night. Needless to say, substitutions and fitness will be key in a long weekend of matches like this, especially with first place in the USL First Division table on the line.
I'm also looking forward to trying out my new and improved camera at the match tonight. It's still a point and shoot digital camera, but it's got improved zoom and other bells and whistles that should make picture taking a lot easier and the results better. Plus, it's a slightly smaller camera, so transporting it will be a lot easier. Granted, I feel a little dorky being on the pitch with my camera when the pros have big camera sets and massive lenses ready and waiting, but if you get the shot you are looking for, all the better.
Things in my blog will kind of slow down a bit after this weekend, as I move into another busy vacation time. Girl and I are heading north for the Depeche Mode show on Monday, then up to Spokane next weekend to see my family. I haven't seen my dad, aunt and uncle since my wedding last year, while I haven't seen my sister since we traveled back east to visit my grandmother back in 2006. I also get to meet my niece, which is very cool, and a long time coming. I'm hoping she thinks I'm fun enough to hang out with, or at least she's not completely screaming the entire time I'm around. We then get back in time for me to work a few days, then we head to Vegas for a week for some much needed rest and relaxation. It's going to be a blast, and while I'll check in from time to time, it probably won't be the same frequency as I have been. That just means more crazy stories upon my return.
Until next time, stay cool and enjoy the remaining weeks of summer. Get outside, take in a Timbers match, go hiking, do something. You'll kick yourself for not doing anything once the rains hit later in the fall.