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Since my Minnesota passport has been revoked this season, I have no other choice but to relive the glory days of last season with a classic (use of the word in its loosest form - rerun would probably be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