Thursday, October 26, 2006


Early on, during my initial exposure to soccer, I was often perplexed by the use of the term 'unlucky'. It took a while for me not to cringe every time the word was uttered, and I'm still not a fan. You never hear a baseball player say, "Oh that's unlucky," when a teammate swings at a fastball and misses. If he did, the batter would likely chop him down at the knees on the way back to the dugout. But 'unlucky' isn't going away anytime soon in soccer football, so I'll just have to deal with it.

Which brings me to the topic of this post: the number 13. Considered unlucky, 13 is now the current number of teams in USL-1 (Toronto out, California and Carolina in). Having an odd number of teams is nothing new in professional sports, but something just doesn't seem right about 13 teams in the single-table format of USL-1. From a scheduling standpoint, it adds more parity and balance, which is a good thing (sorry Timber fans, no more feasting on Minnesota four times a year). It also means less than half the teams (seven versus six) would qualify for the playoffs, adding more legitimacy to the postseason.

But what if it turns out to be a bad omen? What if one of the 13 sides pulls an Edmonton midseason and bails? What if USL-1 really is unlucky, and not in the patronizing soccer sense? We'll just have to wait and see how it all pans out.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Ax to the Lynx

In a move that should come as no surprise, considering the addition of a Major League Soccer club to Toronto, the USL-1 Lynx are no more. The team will now play in the PDL, a level some would argue they have been playing at for some time.

From the Ax to the Road's standpoint, we're really not that upset with this development. You would think Toronto would be a cool city to visit once a year, but we were never really able to "do" the city. Early on, when the team still played within the city limits, we would be stuck in a hotel on the outskirts of the action. By the end of the Lynx's run, they weren't even playing in Toronto at all, but in a nondescript suburb.

The ATTR's most vivid memories of trips to Toronto include Timbers' goalkeeper Matt Napoleon being so mad at the locker room attendants that he took their cooler and a bunch of towels and hid them in one of our vans after a miserable defeat. Then there was Hugo and Fadi planning a mutiny before a match that came on the heels of a loss at Rochester. And who could forget the junior high rock band attempting to cover Green Day's American Idiot at halftime. Good times.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

UO vs. Cal: Live Blog

I understand this is off topic, but from a practice standpoint I'd like to take a stab at the relatively new craze that is Live Blogging. Since my day job is in the University of Oregon athletic department, today's Cal/Oregon match-up is as good a game as any to pound the keyboard to.

Final (24-45): Game? What game? Like the Ducks hopefully will do before touching the tarmac in Eugene, I've already forgotten tonight's result. 4-1, 2-1, not too shabby.

4th Quarter: The Tedford love fest that is ESPN on ABC is less than three minutes from completion.

4th Quarter (24-45): I just missed another Oregon score due to parenting obligations.

4th Quarter (17-45): Hey, at least the Yankees lost today.

4th Quarter: Back to that last post... I couldn't even tell you how Oregon scored its latest points. This blog is quickly deteriorating into a complete sham.

3rd Quarter (17-38):
Don't try this at home. No, really, don't try this at home unless you are alone. With crying kids, a new kitten tearing around the house, etc., etc., it's impossible to stay focused on the game. Now as I type this, the baby starts crying...

3rd Quarter (10-38): Where's the mercy rule in college football?

3rd Quarter: The new storyline for the broadcast is the fact that Nate Longshore leaves two tickets for Jessica Simpson for every game.

3rd Quarter:
This is the primetime college football game of the weekend and Musburger is telling people to switch over to ESPN to watch highlights of other games. That pretty much says it all.

3rd Quarter (10-31): A gift from the Yellow Bears as they go for the endzone on 3rd and 1 and come up short. Giving up three points on a drive feels like a stop at this point.

3rd Quarter:
I'm predicting 42 more points this half. I don't know who will get the bulk of them, but anything fewer than 80 total points in this one would be disappointing.

This may be a stretch, but the score really could be 10-7 Ducks at this point. 14 points off turnovers and a punt return for a touchdown are points Oregon could have prevented. On the other hand, I predicted UO would have a 1-2 record through the first three games, so I should really just keep quiet and be happy with a potential 4-1 start going into next week's home game vs. UCLA.

2nd Quarter (10-28): There's the fake I was anticipating... And after another weak run into a pile of players (who is wearing 28 on offense for Oregon tonight?), the Ducks break the plane for six!

2nd Quarter (3-28): Took a break to feed the baby and two more scores go on the board for the Cal Yellow Bears. Oregon looks awful and Cal is playing out of their minds right now.

2nd Quarter: Cal tosses an interception on 1st and goal! This game has the makings of a wild one of Oregon can find some offense on this drive.

2nd Quarter: This is embarrassing. Another INT and Cal is ready to punch it in for a huge lead.

1st Quarter: End of the quarter. UO needs to find a running game.

1st Quarter: It's early, I know, but Oregon must score a touchdown on this drive or this one could be over.

1st Quarter (3-14): If anyone was going to exploit Oregon's secondary, it was going to be Cal. Yikes, that was ugly. From 3rd and 15 to the endzone in two plays.

1st Quarter: Brent Musburger's sidekick just said J-Stew didn't play against Stanford. I guess that was another guy wearing his jersey that went for 168 and two scores.

1st Quarter: The Ducks have a potential momentum-changing possession and need to make the most of it. Not only did that first-play interception give Cal an easy TD, but it essentially gave the Golden Bears first possession in both halves.

1st Quarter: With Reggie Bush gone, Marshawn Lynch is now the top back in the Pac-10. Cal went to him once on this drive and paid the price with a P-U-N-T.

1st Quarter (3-7): I guess that first series INT changed the game plan as Oregon played it safe and elected to take the 3 points.

1st Quarter: Jonathan Stewart just ran into a pile of players for no gain. Incomplete pass means fourth down. Watch for the fake field goal...

1st Quarter: Dixon is working it around. Multiple shots of Ernie Kent in the crowd. And just like that Jordan Kent makes another catch down in the red zone.

1st Quarter: Hey, there's Aubrie! One of the student workers in my department just got some facetime on the ABC broadcast as the camera focused on the UO section. Just don't go all Jenn Sterger on me A-Dot.

1st Quarter: I still can't get past the yellow jerseys. Seriously, what a bunch of posers. They just showed the replay of Dixon's INT. In a word: Atrocious.

1st Quarter (0-7):
First play interception. Guess Dixon was confused by the yellow jersey on the opposing side of the field. Cal turns the TO into six - not a good start for the Ducks, especially on national TV.

Kickoff: Cal is wearing yellow! That's funny, their official school colors are blue and gold. I've never been a subscriber to the Eugene South stance that many fans have regarding Cal, but this changes everything. They couldn't be more blatant in their Duck envy.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Monthly Blog

With October rapidly approaching, I need to get a post in to fill the September blogging obligation.

But seriously, the past season was just not blog worthy for many reasons, mostly the fact that my inside access to the club was nonexistent. Now that it's over, and the winds of change are blowing at a gale force, the ATTR's future is suddenly burning bright.

Cheers to the Green Wiggle on his promotion and stay tuned for the return of the real Portland Timbers Football Club.

Thursday, August 10, 2006


My unannounced blogging strike is over - the Timbers have won a match! 1-0 over the Virginia Beach Mariners to be precise.

This has been a much more difficult season to cover/blog about than I ever could have imagined. Without the inside glimpse of the team I have been fortunate enough to gain over the past five years as a full-fledged member of the traveling party, it has been almost impossible to get any true read as to what has really been going on during the 11-match winless streak that ended tonight.

Not only do I not know what these guys are like as individuals, I can barely keep their names straight with 30-odd players wearing the Timbers' colors at one point or another this season.

But tonight, that doesn't matter. With their backs against the wall, the squad rallied and was able to grind out three points for the first time since mid-June. Hope has returned to PGE Park, where four matches remain. Four more chances to put a better, brighter face on a difficult season.

Well done.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Fresh Start

With my month-plus stint blogging about the Portland Timbers over at now over, it's time to get back to the Road. My thanks to Bob Kellett for allowing me to fill in on the O-Live blog. As I attempted to keep a steady stream of Timbers-related material flowing, I gained a greater appreciation of Bob's talents and like many fans, I'm happy he's back behind the keyboard.

So what is to become of the ATTR? I'm not completely sure at this point. Clearly, with no true road trips for yours truly this season, the ATTR is a shell of its former self. For now, I'll be blogging about a variety of topics and personal happenings. In the event that the Ax leaves the Northwest again, the ATTR will resume based on its original premise. But, for now it will be whatever my mind decides to spew out.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

This is a test...

Just oiling the ATTR keyboard as my fill-in blogging gig over at O-Live is about to come to an end...

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Ax to the O-Live

Big win in Minny on Saturday. With my 3-year-old daughter's first wedding flower girl role that day, I have nothing to offer on the match other than I'm happy they won in Blaine, which had been a miserable spot to play and broadcast from for Portland over the years.

For those who haven't heard the news, I'll be blogging over at while Bob Kellett is away at the World Cup. That will be a much more active blog than the ATTR has been this season - with the "to the Road" part of this blog out of the equation and all - so please stop by often.

However, the ATTR is looking forward to its first roadie of 2006, this Friday in Seattle.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Classic ATTR

Since my Minnesota passport has been revoked this season, I have no other choice but to relive the glory days of last season with a classic (use of the word in its loosest form - rerun would probably be more accurate) episode.

I used to be a big fan of The Fonz, so it's only appropriate that I too have now jumped the shark.

Ax to the Road: Mostly Cloudy with a Chance of Beer

Monday, May 22, 2006

Oral Surgery

Yes, you're not imagining this: The second of two ATTR entries in three days!

Thanks to a two-match homestand, I feel reconnected with the hometown 11 enough to sprinkle some thoughts and analysis. Undoubtedly, that connection will fade a bit as the squad jets off to St. Paul, Minnesota later this week, but for now I'm back in the Timber loop.

Big "must" win last night against Toronto thanks in large part to Oral Bullen's coming out party. A pinpoint setup to Kreamalmeyer followed by a finish worthy of a surgeon's touch for his first goal as a pro. The former Boys in Green (now white at home for '06) are set up nicely if they can snatch a point or better in Minny before back-to-back matches against the dreaded Seattle Sounders.

Surprised:Bullen's immediate effect on the match after coming on for Byron in the 50th ... Toronto's Rick Titus, who Portland desperately tried to acquire last year, was invisible on the back line for most of the match ... freak monsoon before the match, complete with thunder and lightning, appeared to be an omen, but was not.

Not Surprised:Portland took care of business against the bottom side in USL-1. The Timbers are young, but there are still enough veteran pros on the squad that were not going to let this one slip away ... that Toronto scored, considering they had gone 450 minutes without a goal to start the season it had to happen sooner or later.

Monday's big news is that three away matches have been added to the broadcast (I still can't bring myself to say "webcast") schedule this season. June 2 at Seattle, June 30 at Vancouver and July 22 at Seattle. Big props to Timber Brad Nicholson and Chris Agnello for making this happen.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

A Post!

What's this? An actual post to Ax to the Road?!?

Well, sort of...

It's been difficult to come up with blog-worthy material since being relegated to "home' radio guy. I suppose the theme of ATTR could be changed, allowing for more logical and timely updates, but I'm not quite ready to give up complete hope that my trusty iBook will find its way to a USL city other than Portland some time this summer.

In the meantime. I need to practice blogging for an upcoming internet gig. So let's get to some thoughts about last night's match against Rochester.

Losing 1-0 to the top team in the USL is nothing to be alarmed at, and certainly was an improvement over last year's 5-nil beatdown at the hands of the Rhinos at PGE Park. The Timbers have got to start earning points soon, however, or it's going to be a long summer. Sunday's match against Toronto will complete one quarter of this year's league schedule and that's a hefty chunk when you stop to think about it.

Portland's first-half defense vs. Rochester was effective and the boys should be commended for executing the game plan, but that style can be brutal to watch. It was a clog fest by both sides, leading to a grand total of five shots combined - none dangerous.

I felt the Rhinos made the move of the match when they inserted Delicate for Dombrowski at halftime, pulling Menyongar back just a hair and going with what was essentially a 4-3-3, which the Ax Men failed to adjust to in time.

Luke added great energy as the Timbers' first sub, but unfortunately it was too little, too late.

Surprised:How balanced Rochester is. 5-0-0 (all on the road) to start the season is ridiculous. That said, I thought they would have pushed to attack more than they did ... Less than 4,000 at the old stadium on a Friday night was a bit of a letdown. Still better than most team's draw on a good night, but the park lacked it's usual energy ... Oral Bullen coming on as a sub despite not being listed on the team's official lineup card.

Not Surprised:Aaran Lines playing like the pro that he is. He's a different class and if healthy (he played hurt too much last season) will challenge for the USL assists crown.

One last thing... If you've listened to one of the webcasts thus far, I've got some good news. The audio quality should be increasing tenfold starting Sunday, May 22 vs. Toronto as we switch to a true web stream. I'm being assisted in the booth by UO student broadcaster and loyal Timbers' fan John Strong, who is helping me get a handle on the latest technology. If you're a fan of crackling crowd noise and random salsa music, I'm afraid you'll be disappointed and you can blame John for taking that away.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Blogger's Block

As the reality of the situation that I will not actually be taking the "Ax to the Road" in 2006, it hit me: What the fork am I going to blog about this season? After reading over some posts from last season, it's obvious that my traveling alter ego is much more creative with the keyboard than the homebody version. The ATTR is open to your suggestions.

My first firsthand impression of this year's squad this past weekend was positive. The Timbers earned a win and a draw in Match Nos. 2 & 3, but more importantly there was a different vibe surrounding the club at PGE Park. That's not to say there was a negative atmosphere in the past - far from it. It's hard for me to explain, but there was just a different kind of energy. With that, some thoughts on the matches...

Surprised:Portland shut down Vancouver's forwards and did not allow any significant counter-attack chances ... Lee Morrison stepped into the holding mid role and looked like he had been playing there his entire career ... Chad Bartlome scored the team's first goal of the season a mere four hours after being officially signed ... the Timbers held a Minnesota team that had exploded for four goals against Seattle to a single strike (and that was a gift).

Not Surprised:Hugo earned the club's first assist of 2006 ... nearly 9,000 fans showed their support over the two games ... Timber Jim did flips and sawed logs.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

and the final answer is...


Well, for the most part. That is, all home matches with a window to select road games remaining slightly ajar. And one more thing - internet only.

But seriously, there are NO complaints here. This result took an incredible effort by the PTPR Machine, USL PR Rookie of the Year candidate Timber Brad Nicholson and others. Well done everyone!

The question, of course, is will Portland Timbers matches be on "the air" in 2006. After an agonizing offseason of uncertainty, I couldn't be more jacked up about keeping the broadcasting torch aflame for another campaign.

Here is the direct link to the Timbers broadcast page at The page includes the current schedule of webcasts, including Coventry City on July 8. The Miami/PR swing is definitely out, but other matches on the road may be added.

Until tomorrow night... Cheers!

Monday, April 24, 2006

Same Old Swangard

Match No. 1 is in the books and the result wasn't entirely unexpected, considering Portland's USL-1 history in B.C. and the absence of one Byron Alvarez, who has more goals against Canadian sides than any other country or territory as a member of the Timbers (seriously, look it up).

It was very strange to be on the listening end of the broadcast, and to follow that by scouring over other people's accounts of the match. I still feel completely in the dark as to the personality of the 2006 team, something that will need to change in a hurry if/when this booth jockey returns to the booth. Peter Schaad is a pro, so having Vancouver be the first match of the season to listen to certainly wasn't the end of the world.

A slight source of concern was Coach Agnello's postgame quote that he was "very proud of this team because when we went down a goal, they didn't collapse, didn't give up." I'm taking this more as glass-half-full coachspeak spin and hope there was never actually a fear that this version of the Timbers would possibly collapse just 17 minutes into a 28-game (2,520-plus minutes) season.

Surprised: Portland did not score a goal in its season opener ... Timber killer Jason Jordan did not score a goal for the 'Caps.

Not Surprised: Hugo got his first yellow card of 2006 against Vancouver ... Josh Saunders, by all accounts, was solid between the posts ... Jordan figured in the game's only goal (assist) ... former Timber Jeff Clarke was on the winning side against his old team for the 861st time ... Swangard was sold out.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Ten Questions

Since I'm stuck, mumbling and grumbling to myself as I anxiously await Saturday's webcast of the Timbers/Whitecaps with Vancouver's Peter Schaad at the controls, I might as well share my thoughts on the season's first road trip, since that was the original premise of this blog. With no firsthand knowledge this time around, I can't help but wonder what will take place when the bus begins to roll up I-5 this afternoon...

Will Vern be back in the role of coach captain and will he be wearing his magic vest?

Will the rides first viewing of Van Wilder begin before or after the bus leaves the parking lot?

Which player(s) will forget his passport/green card/birth certificate?

How many times will Earl's be mentioned to the new guys on the ride up?

Will Vern speed away from the border again, setting off the alarm?

How many extra security guards will the Whitecaps employ to keep an eye on the Timbers Army?

How many goals will Timbers' killer Jason Jordan score?

How many annoying celebrations by Alfredo Valente will the Army have to endure?

How many cheap shots will Hugo recieve and deliver over the course of 90 minutes on the Swangard pitch?

Will Chris Agnello sit or stand for the bulk of the match?

Will Gavin be confused for a member of a children's musical troupe?

Oh, there's plenty more, but I do have a real job to get back to.

RIP: JT, Bobby, Romer, Tony, Benny, Winters, Aaron, Aaran, Sam, Dizzy, Higgins, Fadi, Shawn, Jarrod and Shonna

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Ax to the Radio?

Fans of the Timbers and yours truly are hopeful that the cliche' No news is good news holds true when contemplating the future of the team's presence on the airwaves/internet, not to mention this blog. Trust me when I tell you that the powers that be over at PGE Park want the matches on the air, but have not - as of yet - finalized a plan to make that happen. Will a decision be made before the home opener? We'll have to wait and see.

What I do know for sure is that Saturday's season opener in Vancouver, which is just over 48 hours away as of this post, will have an empty visiting radio booth for the first time in six years. The Accent Inn of Burnaby will have one less bed to make and Earl's Restaurant will lose out on one person's entire per diem (and then some). The Roots outlet store up the road from the hotel will retain at least one more article of clothing in its inventory than usual on a Timbers/Whitecaps weekend. Canadian Subways will take a hit, etc., etc. Woe is me.

The ATTR will sit idle, but its author will attempt to pull in the home webcast via To dispense another cliche' in closing, let's hope this will be The exception rather than norm.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Two Weeks and a Day

Hard to believe, but the Timbers' opener is just over two weeks away. My training camp has been going well (down five pounds as of this post with about seven more to go) and I even got a PGE Park fix by attending the Seattle Mariners' exhibition on March 31.

For a minute or two early on, the energy resembled the Sunderland match from '05. After seeing a sold out crowd turn up on a rainy, cold night to watch one Major League team play its regulars for all of three innings, I'm convinced there has never been a clearer sign that Portland sports fans are desperate for anything other than the NBA. Hopefully, the Axemen can also continue to capitalize on this trend.

Great to see the signing of Edwin the other day. If he progresses, he won't be here long, but I'll take him for as many matches as possible.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Wedge

The 6-3-1 Flying Wedge
Originally uploaded by Slax.
If the Portland Timbers soccer team was a salad - and regular readers of the ATTR know my affinity for quality roughage - it clearly would be a crisp, cold chunk of iceberg lettuce with roquefort dressing.

With yesterday's signing of midfielder Luke Kreamalmeyer, the squad now has 12 players under contract for 2006 - four of whom are not defenders or goalkeepers - and can now implement my patented Flying Wedge system of play (a 6-3-1).

One month until the first kick of '06.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Spring Training

Timbers' training camp does not officially open until shortly after April Fool's Day, but I'm no fool when it comes to fitness self-analysis and decided to begin my own preseason regimen a little more than a week before the team. Talking for more than two hours at a stretch for an entire soccer season can be grueling work and getting in game shape is no easy endeavor. Yeah right.

Actually, there is a different reason for my self-imposed spring training. I have a theory about why so many sportscasters and journalists are often times not trusted or respected by athletes. Think about it. You've just pushed your body so hard you want to hurl, knowing you'll be feeling the aftereffects for hours if not days, and some sloppy, out-of-shape media type who has spent most of the night eating popcorn and brownies in the press room, asks a stupid question or makes some crack about a lack of effort. After being hit by this revelation early in my career, I made it my quest to be the anti Tight Jeans.

First order of business was to determine what form of exercise to employ. After much deliberation, I opted to dust off my trusty bike and head out for a ride along the Willamette from my new home base in Eugene. That way I could kill multiple birds with one stone: Listen to some recently downloaded tunes on the iPod, get in a little cardio workout and do some world class people watching. For music, I went with live Dead - specifically some tracks off Dick's Picks Vol. 36 - in an attempt to acquire an authentic Eugene cycling vibe. Real hippies didn't tool around on Rockhoppers while cranking their MP3 players, but this was the best I could do.

It's about a 10-12 minute ride from my house to the nearest entry point of "the trail" as it's commonly referred to here and Jerry and Co. were barely past the midpoint of Playing in the Band. Once on the spacious asphalt path, 21st gear was the most common choice as I whizzed past dog walkers, baby walkers, joggers, lost souls and cyclists just out for a casual cruise. The real bikers, with spandex, camel-back water devices and carbon fiber wheels, blew by me like I was riding a Big Wheel (or more appropriate for this blog - The Green Machine). It's a pretty cool place to ride and over the course of 45 minutes or so you can see people from practically every different walk of life. From teens with dyed blue hair to older folks with actual blue hair, the trail has it all. That's one of the unique things about a college town, where you can witness a guy with a two-foot grey beard tending to his crops in a co-op garden while a sorority girl in a $200 track suit runs by, jogging off last night's hangover or buying herself a few extra calories for the evening ahead. I must admit riding past the guy in the garden while the band played He's Gone did kind of trip me out.

Twenty-four hours later I'm no worse for wear, which means that I either didn't push myself very hard or I'm not as out of shape as previously thought. Even though the weather was a bit on the cool side, spring is definitely in the air and it won't be long before Portland again takes the Ax to the Road.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Time to Ramp Up

Good God. Enough dead blog air already!

With the season barely more than a month away, it's time to oil up the fingers in preparation for what I hope will be season number six with the Boys in Green. Honestly, I don't really have a prepared statement at this time, but my lack of blog entries has been eating away at me like a massive guilt trip.

I keep telling myself this blog was intended to be strictly about life on the road with the Timbers, which is a seasonal thing, but there is little I despise more in life than stale web pages. Needless to say, I've got to come up with a better system or some added energy for offseason posting. Thank goodness for Bob Kellett's blog, keeping everyone up to date with the real news surrounding the Axe Men.