March 3rd, 2017

Portland Timbers

Soccer's back in town!

Much of that Portland Timbers-Minnesota United FC game was closer than you'd think from a final, Portland-wins score of 5-1.

It's almost always closer than you'd think, it's soccer. Minnesota United, a first-year MLS team after playing in the North American Soccer League for seven years, had the ball slightly more than the Timbers in the first half, so more chances to get it towards the goal, and in the second half got its first-ever MLS goal. I was hoping they'd get a goal. Of course I was hoping the Timbers would get more. But the sooner a team proves (to itself, its fans, and its opponents) that goals are possible, the better. So Minnesota United got past that major psychological barrier.

I hope they win. Against someone else.

The final 15 minutes of the game (96 minutes total, with 3 minutes stoppage time added to each half) got crowded with Portland goals, I thought surprisingly so. They finally dominated; in its six-year MLS history Portland has had better records in odd-numbered years than its mediocre even-numbered years, and it wants to have another good odd-numbered year. And then, ideally, a good even-numbered year in 2018. (Hey, it's sports superstition, it's powerful.)

I listened via online radio — I'm not used to doing that, and I'm glad I remembered I could — to the game, played in Portland a few miles west of me. Providence Park (formerly PGE Park, Jeld-Wen Field, and Civic Stadium in the time I've been a Portlander) is, I hope you've heard, an amazing place to play soccer. Fans mean it, and know the game (more than I do, but I'm learning, I'm learning); I've been to wins, draws, and losses there, and I love the place's energy during a game no matter what. It's welcoming and smart-assed.

This is not my most coherent entry. I accept that. I figure it conveys my frequent giddiness I get from watching the Timbers, a giddiness I want to keep feeling as I watch more and learn more. I want to be a better fan. I'll never be a good player — I was mediocre in grade-school-age soccer in California and Virginia — so I'll follow these players, who are. I'm looking forward to it.

Timbers, play well. Minnesota, you know you can play better.