Saturday, August 13, 2005

Mostly Cloudy with a Chance of Beer

Mostly Cloudy with a Chance of Beer
Originally uploaded by Slax.
Sign me up for the Dark Side. I'm not trading in my Timbers Army scarf and t-shirt, but the Thunder's support group, the Dark Clouds, are people after my own heart. Upon arrival at James Griffith stadium tonight, I was presented with a cooler containing a massive jug of Town Hall Gold, a local microbrew. Evidently, the blog's mention of sportswriters in Montreal drinking all of the Heines inspired the Clouds to make sure that didn't happen in the great state of Minnesota. What a surprise, and what a treat. Let me take a five second break from typing to have another pull of the Gold and toast the Dark Clouds. Ahhhhhhhh. When the plane takes off at 8:11 tomorrow morning, I will officially have left my heart in Minny-sotah. I ask the Army to send positive vibes to the Clouds for their quarterfinal Open Cup match at Kansas City coming up. Take the Wiz out of those wankers!

Despite the late goal tonight, this was an outstanding trip for the Boys in Green. This was a barometer match for Portland to determine if the wins against Seattle and Montreal were for real or just a fluke, and the survey said: Absolutely not a fluke.

The folks here at the Kelly Inn also appreciated this visit by the Timbers. The last team that stayed here - none other than Major League Soccer's Colorado Rapids - urinated in the bar and threw up on the patio after being disgraced 4-1 by the Thunder. I say the Rapids should be relegated to the first division and Portland elevated to MLS.

The 5:15 a.m. wake-up call forces this entry to come to an end. Cheers!

The Green Wiggle

Warning: If you don't have young kids, you may have no idea how funny this is.

Honestly, I couldn't make this stuff up. The Wiggles are here in St. Paul this weekend and some star struck guests at our hotel were convinced they were in the presence of the Aussie performers on Thursday night in the lounge. One of the guests finally went up to the table in question and asked if they were part of the group. According to the description given by the server who was telling the story to me (not knowing I was also with the Timbers), "they" were none other than Gavin Wilkinson and Bobby Howe. I nearly choked on my Nachos.

Match day is finally here and the lads are training at the moment. The bench will be very thin tonight with Gavin (suspended), Poltl (personal) and Thompson (Sunderland trial) all unavailable. The Timbers have been playing a 4-4-2 since the debacle in Kelowna, but will have to get very creative to employ that formation against the Thunder.

Friday, August 12, 2005

MOA Musings

Old Movie Props Put to Good Use
Originally uploaded by Slax.
If there were a professional mall walkers tour, the championship event would surely be held at Minnesota's Mall of America, where this blog originates from. I just finished circling all three levels and think I may need a hip replacement. My options for this off day were sitting at the hotel watching the PGA Championship or taking advantage of my possession of the keys to a 15-passenger van and hitting the road. Outside of some unintentional exercise, I'm not overly thrilled with my decision. This place - known to locals as the MOA - is massive and mall-like, and that's about it. There is an amusement park in the middle with multiple rides that will assist you with depositing your lunch directly back into the food court, but I guess I just expected more. Three Abercrombie & Finch stores and no Fashionable Male? C'mon. I must admit - I was tempted to get an Aqua Massage and have a few shots at The Oxygen Bar.

Yesterday was pretty uneventful. Our hotel lobby to hotel lobby trek was 10 hours, a time Lance Armstrong would have been pleased with on his bike. Adding to the Bad News Bears feel of this season's Timbers, our vehicles here in the Twin Cities consist of a Buick LaSabre sedan and Nissan SUV along with the previously mentioned beast of a Ford van - the worst handling rig I've ever had the pleasure to drive. I'm looking to purchase an orange jump suit so that fellow motorists will think I'm a prison work crew member on the lamb.

From the "important news that fans are actually interested in" department, the team trained this morning and the 14 players available for tomorrow's match all appear healthy and ready to go.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Soup Du Jour

Resident Soup Aficionado
Originally uploaded by Slax.
Oh, travel in the First Division always gets old. We were out of the hotel by 6:15 a.m. (Eastern) in order to catch an 8:40 a.m. flight to Chicago. About 20 minutes before our flight was to board, we noticed the gate next to ours was boarding for Minneapolis - a direct flight to Minneapolis on a different airline. A cruel joke as we have more than two hours to kill in the Chicago and most likely won't get the the hotel in St. Paul until 4 p.m. On the plus side, we've probably spent a total of a couple of days in O'Hare this season and know where all of the Starbucks are, hot to mention Wolfgang Puck's, today's lunch spot.

We opted for Wolfie's since Paul Conway had been talking non-stop about the tortilla soup he had there on Tuesday for the past two days. My lunch mates were Conway, Tony Guyette and the two hobbits, formerly known as Kiwis before the Lord of the Rings producers bought New Zealand. The soup was solid, but Puck's portions were in between a cup and a bowl, about three or four spoonfuls shy of total satisfaction.

Aaran Lines spoke of his plans to pen the screenplay for the Scot Thompson story, and we hashed out a rough script. In Lines' movie, Thompson goes from the USL first division to the World Cup in less than a year's time. He ends up sticking with Sunderland (following his current trial that begins this weekend) and works his way on to the pitch for an English Premier League match. As an EPL player, he is immediately recruited by Bruce Arena to play on the U.S. National Team, where he helps lead the Yanks into the quarterfinals of the 2006 World Cup in Germany. Fortune, fame and a spice girl marriage follow, capping an improbable journey that begins (on screen) with an overnight, 10-hour bus ride following a 4-0 loss in Kelowna B.C., and ends on football's grandest stage. Scotty II, the sequel, will concentrate in the pitfalls of instant fame, a variety of scandals, infidelity, aging ungracefully, etc.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Big Win

Big Win
Originally uploaded by Slax.
As poor as the Timbers played for more than a month stretch entering late July, they have been just as impressive over the past two matches. Handing first-place Montreal its first home loss of 2005 was easily the highlight of the season to this point.

There was beer in the press box and I was planning on grabbing one for the road to celebrate, but the two newspaper writers had a collection of empties around their computers and had wiped out the entire supply before the final whistle. Had to settle for a brew in the room and will call it an early night with a 5:45 a.m. wakeup call in store for tomorrow. Until Minnesota, au revoir.

Live From Claude-Robillard

Roll 107 - 5
Originally uploaded by Slax.
The radio pregame show is in the air and while I play a taped interview with Bobby Howe, here is a shot from the pressbox. Great setup here in Montreal. Looks like the rain has let up as the match gets set to begin.

Lunch Hour Lounging in Montreal

Lunch Hour Lounging in Montreal
Originally uploaded by Slax.
I skipped out on going to training this morning, opting instead to cruise around town in the daylight. Montreal is right up there with Vancouver in a battle for coolest travel destination in the First Division (other than Portland, of course). Unfortunately, we are spending the two ensuing off days after tonight's match in St. Paul, Minn., rather than here. C'est la vie.

Looks like the Timbers will employ nearly the same lineup tonight as they did against Seattle. Although, I wouldn't be surprised if Gavin starts or plays significant minutes since he is suspended for Saturday's match at Minny (yellow/red card points). Fadi was heckled by a customs agent at the airport who said "you know (the Impact) have only lost one game, right?" One point would be sufficient against this team.

In case anyone is wondering about the random photos of the stuffed cat in the recent photos link, that is my daughter's toy that she asked me to take along. She calls him Puss in Boots, even though he is sans footwear, and I told her I'd e-mail her pictures of him from the trip. I got more than a few stares as I propped him up for a photo op on a busy sidewalk this afternoon.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Red Light Chicken

Chillin' at the Holiday Inn
Originally uploaded by Slax.
My browser just crashed at the end of a post, so now I've got to try and recreate it. Ugh!

The executive staff and I went in search of a quality meal and passed by Chinatown and several adult oriented establishments just blocks from our hotel. There is definitely no shortage of activity on an Tuesday night in Montreal. We settled on a rotisserie place that had four kinds of chicken soup on the menu, not to mention every other chicken dish under the sun. I had - you guessed it - chicken. A hot chicken sandwich with gravy to be precise. We must have looked like total tourists, gawking at the signs and seedy shops, while the natives didn't even seem to notice on their way to clubs, restaurants, etc. More exploring is on tap for tomorrow, our last and only full day here in Quebec...

Swank Digs in Montreal

Door to door (PDX arrival to our hotel in Montreal) was just over 11.5 hours, but alas the Timbers are in French Canada for the first time. They must think highly of Ax to the Road here in Quebec, as I've been given what is essentially a one bedroom apartment complete with full kitchen, two TVs, etc. We've all seen the commercials, but who knew that the Holiday Inn Express would be this nice? Crazy.

It's nearly 10 p.m. local time, so this entry will be cut short as I go in search of a dining establishment on St. Catherine's St.

Not much to report from leg No. 1 of today's journey - PDX to Chicago O'Hare. I missed a golden opportunity to catch the trip's first unintentional comedy moment, when I discovered my camera batteries were dead. Lee Morrison was napping on the plane with a piece of paper dangling from his lip, which resembled a Lucy. I've since purchased new AAs here in the airport to make sure that won't happen again.

Back on Blog

And here we go again... Another road quest begins with the Boys in Green, with stops in Montreal and Minneapolis/St. Paul. Sadly or thankfully, depending on ones feelings with regard to these odd musings, this will be my final road trip of the season unless the Timbers qualify for the playoffs. A new job and two real estate closings in late August are preventing me from making the week-long trip through the Southeast later this month. Portland soccer afficianado Loren Wohlgemuth will be filling the headset in my absence. I was really looking forward to spending a week in Allen Iverson's hometown of Hampton Roads (Virginia Beach), but I guess I'll survive.

We're on American Airlines to Montreal this morning. So far, so slow. It took nearly 40 minutes to check in and now the flight is delayed for a half-hour. All this to climb on board an MD-80 jet, the same model that crashed into the Pacific Ocean a couple of years back because of a design flaw in the tail. Good times. We have a skeleton crew on this trek due to injuries, etc. There should be enough players for tomorrow's match, but if there is dead air on Saturday's broadcast, assume I've been activiated and playing at left back against Minnesota.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Oiling the Keyboard

Consider this a practice post as I try to prepare for the first true ATTR in nearly a month. I need to perform this and other various exercises, like trying to remember my passwords, what photo site I liked the best, yada yada yada. It will undoubtedly feel like I'm blogging for the very first time. Oh that faraway, magical night at a hotel in Rochester, N.Y....

I assume they have the internet in Montreal, but Quebec is a very unique place, so I wouldn't be entirely shocked if I struggle for conectivity. The entire provice is bilingual, but it was amazing to me upon my first visit to Montreal how many natives selectively forget how to speak English if you need directions, etc. I'm planning on putting my years of eighth and ninth grade French to good use: Je m'appelle Andy! Pouvez-vous me dire où je peux observer les bois de construction défaire votre équipe du football?

Jusqu'à mardi, adieu.