Sunday, July 24, 2005

This is What It's All About

Okay, so the Timbers are not on the road. But tonight's match vs. Sunderland has got to be worthy of a quick blog. A record 15,376 at the stadium, 0-0 draw for Portland against a team from the top soccer league in the world? A missed penalty kick was the only thing keeping the home side from exclaiming We Can. Great stuff. I've always understood how fortunate I am to be behind the mic for a professional sports team, and nights like this just hammer it home.

In addition to the excellent crowd, it may have been a record listenership on the internet tonight as well. I received e-mails during the match from South Korea (two), England (several), Scotland, Wales, Australia and Hong Kong, not to mention New Jersey, Texas and California. All told, an amazing night and one Portland should be extremely proud of.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Cruel and Unusual

As if suffering through a 4-2 road loss at Seattle Friday night wasn't enough, we had to bus up to Chilliwack, B.C., hitting the pillow at 3 a.m. I had to be up by 9:45 for a radio interview on the Whitecaps' station, so those six-plus hours was likely the only quality rest I'll get until the bus rolls into Portland around 10 a.m. Sunday. Bus driver Bill will take us as far as the border tonight, where one of his fellow drivers will board the coach and haul us the rest of the way home. Can't wait for that ride!

My room at the Best Western Rainbow Country Inn smells like bacon grease, and not in a good way. Time to get packed up and head down to Tim Horton's for a coffee for the road. We should arrive in Kelowna, B.C. around 3:30 p.m. in advance of the 7 p.m. showdown with the Whitecaps.


No luck fiinding a connection today, so this blog edition won't be very timely. We arrived in Kelowna and had an hour and 20 minutes to eat, sleep, etc. Most of us chose the dining route and Jim Taylor and I checked into a hotel room for all of five minutes to change clothes. This is easily the second toughest travel in the five years I've been associated with the Timbers. Number one (2003 season) was flying from El Paso to Milwaukee on the day of the match and driving straight from the airport to the field. That result wasn't pretty, I just hope it's a different story this time.


Well, that was wishful thinking, the result was actually worse at 4-0. Maybe I was overestimating the ability of a sleep-deprived team with 14 healthy field players to withstand horrific travel and two matches in 23 hours.

The bus arrived at our meeting place at the Delta Park Best Western at 7:30 a.m., capping arguably the most miserable road trip in modern Timbers' history. Looking on the bright side, that was the final trip of the regular season involving a bus, which severely limits the ability to conduct a timely blog (no place to get online, et al).

Friday, July 08, 2005

Killin' Time

If mall walking ever becomes an Olympic sport, watch out. The Portland Timbers will have a leg up on the competition in terms of training and preparation.

As is too often the case on these road trips when we have to take off right after an evening match, the team is forced out of their hotel early and has to kill time before heading to the stadium. In Seattle, that usually means a trip to the mall in Southcenter, which is where this blog entry is originating from. The other option is staying on the bus and watching Van Wilder for the 14,000th time. Today, I chose the mall, figuring I could spend time surfing the net and/or blogging. Looks like I will be able to do both as I found power and WIFI at the Nordstrom cafe.

Ax to the Road has officially hired its second employee, none other than Portland Timbers' general manager Jim Taylor. JT has agreed to be the official blogtographer of ATTR for a salary of one Starbucks Americano per road trip. Of course payment won't be possible until we get the accounting department up and running, but that hasn't phased him. He was so stoked to put his lens to the test this weekend that he forgot to pack socks for the trip and is currently shopping for some here at the mall. You can see some of his Day 1 handywork by clicking the recent photos link.

I really want to order a coffee, but the line here is nonstop and I'm waiting for an opening...

Timber Collin Romer, Portland's crack PR guy, is on this leg of our two-match trip. I may try him out for a little play-by-play on the radio broadcast tonight in the event that I ever go on injured reserve. He won't be going with us to Kelowna, B.C., as the Canadian authorities saw photos of him dancing in downtown Vancouver from the last trip and want to question him as to what his motivation was for attempting a "break off" against a Canadian guy.

Got my coffee and it's excellent.

Also along for the ride is my two-year old daughter's rubber duck, Ducky. He was a last minute addition as I was leaving the house yesterday, when she insisted that I take him and that he would enjoy going on a bus. So far, he has no complaints.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Live from Qwest Field

Time to dust off the trusty iBook keyboard, stretch out the fingers and get back in the blogger's seat. It seems like a year since the last Timbers' road trip - four home matches to be exact - and Ax to the Road needs an update in the worst way. The blogger's seat reference was actually a lie, as I'm standing at a table in the swanky club level of Qwest Field in Seattle, looking for a WIFI connection as the U.S. National Team is stumbling on the pitch outside to Cuba. Of course, just as I type that, Clint Dempsey scores to tie the match at 1-1, although it's a gift as he was well offside.

I'm hooked into the Seattle Seahawks wireless internet, so this blog should be up in no time. I feel like Tom Cruise's character in Mission Impossible. Well, that might be a bit over the top, but it's cool none the less. Tomorrow Land at Disneyland really missed the boat on what the future (now) would be like, eh?

We bussed up today to take in a pair of Gold Cup matches prior to Friday's showdown with the Seattle Sounders. Then it's on to Kelowna B.C., for a game against the Vancouver Whitecaps, followed by an all-night bus ride of the 12-hour variety back to P-town on Sunday a.m. Hopefully, this whirlwind will generate a few points in the standings for the Boys in Green, as they need to put the last month of results squarely behind them.

A poor showing by Sam's Army tonight at Qwest. I think the Timbers' Army members in attendance out-number the alleged top support group in the U.S.A. The Starfire Soccer Complex - the site of tomorrow's match against the Sounders - will get to experience the TA first hand for the first time. Let's just hope there aren't any posers who decide to throw flares and then hide in bathrooms.

Cuba is now a man down. Things are looking up for the U.S., so I'd better get back out to the action.